Myspace considered as a publisher by a French tribunal and found liable for copyright infringement by its members

23 October 2007

Jeanne Méhaud

On 22 June 2007, a French humorist successfully sued MySpace before the Paris first instance tribunal for infringement of his author’s rights and personality rights, as his name, image and some of his sketches were published on a MySpace webpage without his authorisation.

The summary judge found that the defendant’s website is aimed at allowing its members to create a personal webpage with a structure of frames specific to this website, that includes a photograph of the member in the centre and various frames placed around it to specify the members’ identity, contact details, URL address, hobbies, presentation, friends, etc.

Consequently, the judge stated that, although it was not disputed that MySpace carries on the technical tasks of a hosting provider, its role is not restrained to said technical tasks. The judge ruled that MySpace is a website publisher, as it not only imposes a presentation structure with frames, which is made available to its members, but also broadcasts advertising upon each visit of the webpage, from which it profits.

The claimant was awarded provisional sums of 50,000 EUR in lieu of damages for the material loss incurred, 1,000 EUR for the moral damage suffered as a result of the author’s rights infringement and 5,000 EUR for the violation of his personality rights.

This summary judgment is in line with the "Lucky Comics" decision rendered against Tiscali on 7 June 2006 by the Paris Court of Appeal, which ruled that hosting providers of personal web pages who place profitable advertising on these web pages shall be considered as web publishers. However it contrasts with the Dailymotion decision of 13 July 2007, which we reported here.