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  • NETMEDIA International

Information or forgery: no confusion!

The sharing of information contributes daily to the enhancement of knowledge. However, be careful not to confuse common good with respect of property. Authorized copying of press content must meet well established requirements, and under certain preconditions of proof.

The exception of short quotation

The intellectual property code provides that, when a work has been disclosed, the author cannot prohibit short quotations justified by a critical, polemical, educational, scientific or informative character.

This exception is subject to several accumulated conditions:

  • Do not distort the main work.

  • Clearly state the source: author and, if applicable, publisher.

  • Limit the short quotation justified by its informative character for example with the use of quotation marks.

What consequences?

In journalistic matters, the tolerance imposed by the sharing of knowledge is limited to this exception and any offender exposes himself to heavy financial penalties, publications of the pronounced sentence, and to engage his civil liability.

The originality of the contents

The scope of protection of a press article depends however on the necessity to prove the uniqueness of the work.

On this subject, the appreciation of the jurisprudence is rather extensive. The following can be protected by copyright: the article itself, as well as compilations of articles, short articles if they are not limited to a raw data of information, a specific graphic charter or a set of key words if they are not technical terms commonly used in a specific field.

For example, in the financial press, it has been judged that the use of certain words such as indicator, parameter, trend, cycle, rise, consolidation, etc., represent generic and usual terms in the financial field. Their use, even if systematic, by a competing publisher in articles on the same themes and presenting a common typology cannot be considered as faulty.

No translation exception

The original work thus covers any work, whatever its medium of dissemination, web, paper, audio, radio, blog, social networks, against any undue use, whether it is in the same language or translated on foreign websites.

The transclusion technique

More importantly, it may be the responsibility of the person responsible for disseminating the work to ensure that it is addressed to the audience for which the copyright owner holds the rights.

Indeed, very recently, a digital library that networks catalogues of written and graphic works in thumbnail form was condemned by the CJEU for not having put in place effective technical measures to prevent the incorporation of these thumbnails by clickable or embedded links (transclusion or "framing" technique) within third party internet pages.

Ownership of content

Originality is not enough; it is also necessary to be able to demonstrate with certainty one's previous authorship and status as author, or as owner of the rights for publishers.

In this respect, the technology available to authors and publishers is extensive. It can be the regular safeguarding of web pages and/or websites by classical processes such as online bailiff's reports, or legal deposit platforms. Most of these processes make use of blockchain technology, although blockchain time stamping is not yet fully integrated into French law as irrefutable evidence.

What is NFT

The NFTs that are rocking the artists' charts with record price sales recently achieved for digital works time-stamped by a Non Fungible Token.

Remember that these certificates of authenticity by means of a record of the transaction on a decentralised network are effectively verifiable, tamper-proof, unique and non-fungible.

On the other hand, today it is only a private technical standard that commits only the co-contractors, and has no legal value for third parties unless they are also committed by a contractual communication with each of them.

Lastly, although this transaction gives the right to ownership of a copy of the work, it does not give the right to the creation itself. For press articles covered by copyright, the unauthorised exploitation of the copy will therefore remain an infringement of the rights of the author and his publishing company.

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