Findlaw reports that US publishers Playboy Enterprises Inc. are due in court this morning to press criminal charges against the owner of Voici, a French women's weekly that printed miniatures of Playboy pages featuring the actresses Daryl Hannah and Shannen Doherty. Voici publisher Prisma Presse and chief executive Axel Ganz have been summoned to a preliminary hearing to face accusations of "counterfeiting by publication or reproduction", a court official said. Prisma's legal director, Berard Mirepoix, said Playboy had also filed for euro 400,000 in damages after Voici used the images in its press review.

What has Voici actually done? In its 6 October issue it ran page reproductions, measuring three inches by two, from a Playboy photo shoot with Hannah, 43, whose film credits range from 1980s sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" to "Kill Bill”. Entitled "Hannah from Heaven", the Playboy series shows the smiling actress in a variety of poses, sporting a pair of pink roller boots and very little else. The following month, when Playboy's American edition published photos of Shannen Doherty ("Charmed" and "Beverly Hills, 90210"), Voici once again carried scaled-down highlights. Prisma said they were baffled by Playboy's reaction to what they see as free publicity for the half century-old adult magazine.

"They felt we'd damaged their business and that because we'd shown their photos, people wouldn't buy their magazine afterward," Voici editor Hedi Dahmani is reported as saying, "but if I were a young man and I noticed in the press review that Daryl Hannah was appearing naked in Playboy this month, I'd want to go buy it". Prisma argues that using images from other publications in press reviews is common practice among newspapers and magazines ― including Playboy.

The IPKat is curious to know how this dispute will end. The French (and indeed the French courts) are not currently known for their love of Americans. On the other hand, they are just about the staunchest protectors of authors’ rights and copyright interests on the planet, which is why he tips Playboy, that undeserving exploiter of female flesh and male weakness for it, against the local publication.

The French: what’s sexy …. Moulin Rouge, Folies Bergere, Bridget Bardot

… and what’s not: French toilets, Gauloises, frogs’ legs and escargots

VOICI UN INFRINGEMENT DE COPYRIGHT VOICI UN INFRINGEMENT DE COPYRIGHT Reviewed by Jeremy and Ilanah on Tuesday, March 23, 2004 Rating: 5

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