France

French Court: Claim of First Amendment Rights in Search Results Inconsistent with "Neutral and Passive Role" as Host

On November 6, the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI) ordered Google and Google France to withdraw and stop displaying in their search engine results, for a period of five years, nine pictures of British citizen Max Mosley. By doing so, the TGI refused to consider Google as a mere Internet intermediary that provides hosting and/or caching functions.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

France Soon to Say "Get Lost" to its Criminal Offense to the President Law

The Legal Committee of France's Chamber of Representatives voted unanimously on March 27 to propose to repeal the offense of insulting the President of the Republic, which is still a crime under article 26 of the French Press law. French Representatives will now vote on April 18 to adopt the proposal to repeal article 26, then will send the proposal to the Senate.

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

RT the Hate: France and Twitter Censorship, Part Two

Last October I wrote about the rise in popularity among French Twitter users of the hashtag #unbonjuif ("a good jew"). In December we saw a growth in other offensive hashtags, including the homophobic #Simonfilsestgay, ("if my son is gay") or the xenophobic #SimaFilleRamèneUnNoir ("if my daughter brings a Black man home").

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Twitter, France, and Group Libel

On October 16, the Union des Étudiants Juifs Français (Union of French Jewish Students, UEJF) asked Twitter to remove several racist and anti-Semitic tweets. Using the hashtags #unbonjuif and #unbonmusulman ("agoodjew" and "agoodmuslim," respectively), some Twitter users were posting derogatory comments about Jews and Muslims, some allegedly meant to be 'jokes.'

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Honni Soit… French Republic Protects the Privacy of Commoners and of Kings

On September 14, French weekly gossip magazine Closer published several pictures of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge taken without their consent while they were spending a weekend at a private villa in the South of France. Some of the pictures showed the Duchess wearing only the bottom of a bikini suit.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Lèse Majesté: 16th Century Censorship Meets 21st Century Law

When hearing the expression “lèse majesté,” images of the Queen of Hearts ordering heads to be chopped off ASAP may come to mind. Marie-Antoinette, the queen who was once a “majesté” in France, herself lost her head during the French Revolution. Surely, the crime of lèse majesté is now a thing of the past?

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Hermès International v. Does

Date: 

02/29/2012

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

John Does 1-100; XYZ Companies

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

Case Number: 

1:12-cv-01623-DLC

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$100,000,000.00

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Default Judgment
Injunction Issued

Description: 

On March 6, 2012, Hermès International and its subsidiary Hermès of Paris filed a complaint (which had been prepared for February 29, 2012) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against 34 websites that allegedly sold counterfeit Hermes bags, scarves, and other Birkin products. In the complaint, eight of the defendants were identified by name and served by email, while the remaining individuals and companies remained anonymous. Hermès's complaint alleges nine causes of action:
  1. Federal trademark counterfeiting violating the Lanham Act §§ 32(a)-(b)
  2. Federal trademark infringement violating the Lanham Act § 32
  3. Cybersquatting under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act
  4. Trade dress infringement and false designation of origin violating the Lanham Act § 43(a)
  5. Federal trademark dilution violating the Lanham Act § 43(c)
  6. Trademark dilution violating the N.Y. General Business Law § 360
  7. Deceptive acts and practices unlawful violating the N.Y. General Business Law §§ 349-350
  8. Trademark infringement violating New York state common law
  9. Unfair competition violating New York state common law

Hermès requested 100 million dollars in damages, alleging damages in the amount of two million dollars per trademark that was counterfeited or infringed.

After reviewing Hermès's complaint, District Court Judge Cote granted a temporary restraining order against the defendants on March 6, 2012. At this time, Judge Cote also established a March 16, 2012 deadline for the defendants to file an answer and ordered that they appear in court to show cause on March 20, 2012. The order also permitted service by email, which was verified on March 8, 2012.

On March 21, 2012, Judge Cote ordered a preliminary injunction against the defendants regarding the use of the Hermès trademarks and granted domain name seizure on an ex parte basis.

Hermès further filed a motion for default judgment against all of the defendants on April 13, 2012. In this motion, Hermès argued that that the defendants' failure to appear justifies the entry of a default judgment, in the form of enhanced statutory damages of 100 million dollars and permanent injunctive relief. On the same day, Hermès's attorney, Joseph C. Gioconda, filed a declaration in support of Hermès's motion for default judgment.

On April 19, 2012, Judge Cote issued to the defendants an order to show cause by appearing on April 27, 2012 to defend against an entry of default judgment. None of the defendants responded or appeared, and therefore on April 27, 2012, less than two months after the original complaint was filed, Judge Cote granted Hermès's motion for default judgment. Judge Cote awarded Hermès 100 million dollars in statutory damages and permanently injoined the defendants from use of the Hermès trademarks, designs, and/or domain names.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

France Continues to Confuse Censorship with Civility

A French court last month stomped on what we in the United States consider a “basic, vital, and well-established liberty” – the right to record and publish the public activity of police.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Hey, When Did This Slope Get so Slippery? The Danger of Self-Surveillance in Three-Strikes Internet Laws

I recall a Twilight Zone episode with a great twist: a man, in order to win a bet that he could stay quiet for an entire year, has had his vocal cords severed. The idea being, it is particularly gruesome to imagine a human being rendered mute for money.

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Jurisdiction: 

France v. Weiler

Date: 

09/28/2008

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Joseph Weiler

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

International

Court Name: 

Paris Criminal Tribunal

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

In September 2008, New York University law professor Joseph Weiler was summoned to appear before a French Examining Judge in connection with a complaint of alleged criminal libel made by Dr. Karin Calvo-Goller, a senior lecturer at the Academic Centre of Law and Business in Israel.  Professor Weiler will appear for trial before the Paris Criminal Tribunal in June 2010.

Professor Weiler is the editor in chief of the European Journal of International Law and the affiliated book review sites, Global Law Books and European Law Books. In 2007, Global Law Books published a book review written by Professor Thomas Weigend, Director of the Cologne Institute of Foreign and International Criminal Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cologne.  Professor Weigend reviewed Dr. Calvo-Goller's book, The Trial Proceedings of the International Criminal Court. ICTY and ICTR Precedents, and criticized it as an "exercise in rehashing the existing legal set-up" and "unproductive," among other things. 

In June 2007, Dr. Calvo-Goller wrote to Professor Weiler in his capacity as editor of Global Law Books, requesting that he remove Professor Weigend's review from the site. Her letter detailed several perceived factual inaccuracies in the review, claiming that it went "beyond the expression of an opinion, fair comment and criticism" and contained "false factual statements which the author of the review, a professor of criminal law, could not reasonably believe to be true." It also claimed that "[t]he review is an indirect insult to former ICTY and actual ICC officials, defense counsel of the ICTY and ICTR, who took the time to read and comment on previous drafts of the book."

In a response to Dr. Calvo-Goller, Professor Weiler declined to remove the review, expressing his sympathy for Dr. Calvo-Goller's hurt feelings, but also pointing out the unorthodox character of the request:

 I have seen all manner of reviews and from time to time received letters from unhappy authors. In these long years of experience I have never received a letter such as yours both in content and tone. It departs from what in my view are considered common conventions of academic discourse and academic publication.

. . . 

It is a very extreme request to ask for a critical review to be removed. I could imagine acceding to such a request only in most egregious circumstances of, say, bad faith, conflict of interest etc. In reviewing a complaint such as yours the task of the editor is not to engage in a de novo review, but to assess whether the review falls into one of those extreme categories of egregious unreasonableness.

After noting Professor Weigend's distinguished professional credentials and addressing each specific factual/substantive contention in turn, Professor Weiler concluded that removing the review was not justified:

My conclusion from this preliminary enquiry is that the heavy burden needed in my eyes to suppress a book review has not been met. In fact not even a prima facie case has been made. I found nothing to impugn the integrity or professionalism of the reviewer and, independently of whether or not I share his opinions or conclusions on your book, I must decline your request to suppress the book review by removing it from the site. 

Professor Weiler also explained that he would forward Dr. Calvo-Goller's comments to Professor Weigend and would consider a request by Professor Weigend, if any, to change the review. Professor Weiler also pointed out the comment feature on the website and suggested that it would be "perfectly in order for you to write a comment which, after editorial approval, could be posted on the website and seen by anyone who reads the review."

Professor Weigend declined to make any changes, Dr. Calvo-Goller posted no comment, and Professor Weiler stood by Professor Weigend's decision.

Content Type: 

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Liberte, Egalite, Technologie: The French Resistance and the Anti-Piracy Campaign

The music and motion picture industries suffered a setback in their global anti-piracy carpet-bombing campaign on June 10, when the French Conseil Constitutionnel struck down the internet-banning portions of the HADOPI law.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

La Societe Metro Cash & Carry France v. Time Warner Cable

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Date: 

10/01/2003

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Time Warner Cable

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of Connecticut

Case Number: 

CV030197400S

Legal Counsel: 

Scott R. Lucas, Michel Bayonne (for intervenor Jane Doe)

Publication Medium: 

Email

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

La Societe Metro Cash & Carry France sought a "bill of discovery" in Connecticut state court compelling Time Warner Cable to disclose the identity of an individual who allegedly sent an anonymous email to several of its regional directors accusing the company of deceptive and unethical business practices.  The request was based on an ex parte order of a French court requiring Time Warner to give up this information.  Time Warner notified its subscriber of the Connecticut action, and she intervened through counsel to oppose the bill.

The court granted the bill of discovery.  It applied an unusual standard with two requirements.  First, the plaintiff must show that what it seeks is necessary to mount a claim or defense in another action, and that it has no other way of obtaining the desired material.  Second, the plaintiff must "demonstrate by detailed facts that there is probable cause to bring a potential cause of action." It defined "probable cause" as "knowledge of facts sufficient to justify a reasonable man in the belief that he has reasonable grounds for presenting an action . . . Its existence or nonexistence is determined by the court on the facts found."

The court found that La Societe Metro had put forward enough evidence to establish probable cause that it had suffered damages as a result of the defamatory action of the anonymous emailer (potentially under French law), and that it was seeking information about her identity in good faith and not for any improper purpose.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Threat Source: 

CyberSLAPP.org

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Jurisdiction: 

Susan Scheff v. Psyborgue

Date: 

07/31/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Michael Crawford (aka Psyborgue)

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Administrative

Court Name: 

WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

Case Number: 

D2008-1177

Legal Counsel: 

Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Susan Scheff, a self-described “parent advocate” who “assists parents of troubled teens research and identify programs and schools that can assist their troubled teens in getting back on track to a healthy, productive lifestyle” and the publisher of www.suescheff.com, filed an administrative complaint with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center against "Psyborgue" pursuant to the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). (The UDRP is a policy that website operators automatically agree to when they register a domain name; the policy enables trademark owners to initiate an administrative proceeding challenging the registration of a domain name in "bad faith.") 

"Psyborgue" is the name Michael Crawford used to register the domain name "sueschefftruth.com."  Mr. Crawford, who represented himself in the WIPO action, stated in a declaration that he registered the domain name primarily to "provide information to the public regarding Sue Scheff, her company PURE, and the quality of services offered under the name free of charge to parents."  According to the WIPO administrative panel:

The website associated with the Domain Name posts Mr. Crawford’s blog comments, media articles, court documents, and postings by readers concerning [Sue Scheff]. Typical postings question [her] objectivity, assert that she or her daughter have financial ties to some of the institutions and programs that [she] recommends to parents, and allege that some of these programs have been implicated in charges of child abuse or neglect.  A disclaimer at the head of the website advises, “This site is not endorsed by or affiliated with Sue Scheff™.

The WIPO panel denied Scheff's complaint, finding that Mr. Crawford was making a legitimate, nomcommercial fair use of the domain name for purposes of criticism.  The panel indicated that "[t]o the extent the Complaint may be read as suggesting that the Respondent registered and used the Domain Name in bad faith because his purpose was to defame the Complainant, such a claim is essentially outside the scope of the Policy."

Content Type: 

Threat Source: 

User Submission Form

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Immunomedics v. Doe

Date: 

10/12/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Jane Doe, aka "moonshine_fr"; John Does 1 - 10; John Foe aka "bioledger"; John Foes 2 - 10

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court of New Jersey, Morris County; Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Divison

Case Number: 

L-003085-00 (trial); A-2762-00T1 (appeals)

Legal Counsel: 

Steven B. Stein (Stein & Stein)

Publication Medium: 

Forum

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Pharmaceutical company Immunomedics sued "moonshine_fr," a company employee who allegedly posted confidential internal documents on a Yahoo! Finance message board, and several John Does in New Jersey state court on claims of breach of contract, breach of duty of loyalty, and negligently revealing confidential and proprietary information.

Soon after filing its complaint, Immunomedics amended it to include claims of defamation and tortious interference with economic gain against a second anonymous poster, "bioledger." In the amended complaint, it also accused moonshine_fr of continuing to reveal company information online, including product shortages in Europe and the imminent firing of the company's "european [sic] manager."  While Immunomedics admitted that moonshine_fr's online allegations were true, it claimed that her posting of them was a violation of the company's confidentiality agreement and employment provisions.

Immunomedics subpoenaed Yahoo! to determine moonshine_fr's true identity.  Yahoo! notified moonshine_fr of the subpoena, and she moved to quash it. The trial court denied her motion, and she appealed.

The appellate court affirmed the lower court's ruling.  Using the test established in Dendrite International, Inc. v. John Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001), the court determined that Immunomedics had produced sufficient evidence to support its claim that moonshine_fr was an employee and was thus subject to the company's confidentiality agreement. Without extensive analysis, the court also concluded that Immunomedics's need to identify moonshine_fr in order to enforce its confidentiality agreement outweighed her right to speak anonymously.

It is not clear what happened after the appellate court's decision.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Case citation: 775 A.2d 773.

Jurisdiction: 

Programmes Internationaux D'Echanges v. Grijalva

Date: 

09/21/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Danielle Joyce Grijalva; Veronica Beddick

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

North Carolina District Court, Forsyth County

Case Number: 

2007-CVD-656

Legal Counsel: 

Jennifer Arno (Grijalva)

Publication Medium: 

Email
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued

Description: 

Programmes Internationaux D'Echanges (P.I.E.), a French nonprofit that organizes student exchange programs, filed suit against Danielle Grijalva, director of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students (CSFES), over emails and postings on CSFES's website that criticized the organization's handling of students. P.I.E.'s complaint asserted claims of defamation, civil conspiracy, interference with contract, and interference with business relationships. The suit also named as a defendant Veronica Beddick, a former employee of ASSE International, a nonprofit that assisted in student placements, alleging that she provided confidential information to Grijalva and assisted in the disputed acts.

In emails and postings to the CSFES website, Grijalva allegedly accused the plaintiff organizations of numerous wrondoings related to their treatment of foreign exchange students. According to the complaint and other court filings, the accusations included that the organizations failed to place students in schools, failed to place students in permanent homes, placed students in homes with felons, and otherwise violated laws that regulate foreign exchange programs.

According to press reports, Grijalva has said that she sent an email to the father of a foreign exchange student at the student's request but that she has not engaged in any "mass effort" to contact students, their families, or host families.

P.I.E.'s complaint included a request for a temporary restraining order against Grijalva and Beddick. On September 21, 2007, the court granted the request, ordering the defendants to cease communicating with P.I.E. students as well as the students' familes, host familes, and educational institutions. The temporary restraining order, by its terms, expired after 10 days unless the court renewed it.

On Dec. 12, 2007, the court granted a preliminary injunction against Grijalva that reiterated the prohibition on direct communication with students and others involved with the plaintiffs and further ordered her to refrain from disseminating false or misleading information about the plaintiff organizations via email or her website.

On May 30, 2008, the court granted a near-identical preliminary injunction against Grijalva brought by P.I.E. associates (and plaintiff-intervenors) ASSE and World Heritage, Inc.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

2-Normal

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Pages