Court says Facebook nude painting case can be tried in France

Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:24pm EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - A French court ruled on Friday that a case against social networking company Facebook over a painting of a nude woman can be tried in France, rejecting Facebook's argument that it is governed by Californian law.

Facebook blocked the account of a French professor and art lover after he uploaded a picture of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 canvas 'The Origin of the World', which shows a close-up view of female genitals.

The Paris Appeal Court's decision upheld a lower court ruling in March 2015 that a clause in Facebook's terms of agreement signed by users was 'abusive' in reserving exclusive rights to a California court to hear disputes.

Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, had appealed against a Paris High Court's authority to hear the case but the appeal court said Facebook's claim was inadmissible.

Facebook said French courts were not competent to handle the case and that the contract with the user was "not a consumer contract because Facebook's service was free."

But a High Court judge ruled in 2015 that, "if the proposed service was free to the user, Facebook was generating significant profits from the business, including via paid applications, advertising and other resources."

(Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Alister Doyle/Ruth Pitchford)

Jean-Jacques Fernier, Gustave Courbet Institute art expert, stands at his desk near photocopies of his own document which shows the "L'Origine du Monde, 1866"  (The Origin of the World) as he speaks to the media in his office in Paris February 7, 2013.  REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen