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French Supreme Court Uphelds Legality of DRM on DVD


The French Cour de Cassation – the highest court in the French judicial system – recently reversed a ruling by the Paris Court of Appeals in the landmark case UFC v. Films Alain Sadre et al. and remanded it, stating that the private copying “right” is not an absolute users’ right and, therefore, that the application of technological protection measures inhibiting the making of copies for private purposes is not illegal under French law.

Recall that UFC, a consumer rights association, filed a lawsuit claiming that a copy protection system on a DVD (here: DVD Mulholland Drive) is in conflict with the provisions of the French Intellectual Property Code, which limit copyright owners’ rights regarding reproductions strictly made for the copier’s private use. The District Court disagreed and confirmed that such technological protection measures comply with the EUCD and French legislation. The Paris Court of Appeals, in contrast, held – as reported here – that the DRM system in this particular case was illegeal and that the failure on the part of the producers and distributor of the DVD to inform consumers of the presence of DRM upon the DVD violated French consumer protection law.

Last year, the Versailles Appeals Court rendered a judgment upholding the legality of technological protection measures on a CD from the French singer Alain Souchon, and – only a few weeks prior to the Cour de Cassation’s judgment – the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris (District Court) blocked the application of anti-copying technology on Warner Music’s “Testify” CD from Phil Collins (more here). Against this backdrop, it is interesting to observe how things will develop – not only on the copyright front, but also with regard to the consumer protection argument. For a detailed discussion pre-Feb 28th, see Natali Helberger’s analyses on INDICARE (1, 2, 3, 4).

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