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France

E-commerce

The Supreme Court has rendered four anticipated rulings in relation to Google's liability for its paid referencing service, AdWords. The four rulings implement the ruling of the European Court of Justice, which considered the cases in a referral, and annul the appeal rulings that held Google liable for trademark infringement.

In accordance with the government's aim of liberalizing the online gambling sector before the 2010 World Cup, the National Assembly recently adopted the proposed legislation as presented by the Senate so that it could be ratified and promulgated. However, the Socialist opposition has challenged the terms for liberalization before the Constitutional Council.

Search engines are not subject to a statutory liability regime. In a recent case the Paris Court of Appeal reiterated several rules relating to the technical role of a search engine. Within this framework, the court reiterated search engines' obligations and then determined how they may be held liable.

Media & Entertainment

Film financing is a complex, constantly evolving field. While the rates of some tax credit systems are decreasing and are not a priority for some governments, the French system, introduced in the 2000s, has had positive results. The French government recently strengthened its system by widening the categories of eligible expenses and increasing some of the applicable caps.

Protecting the Cannes Film Festival is an ongoing concern for its organisers. In the absence of copyright protection of the event, the organisers may find protection through an unfair competition claim. A case brought before the Paris High Court illustrates the benefits of claiming unfair competition.

The Paris Civil Court has issued a high-profile judgment in respect of the action taken by film producers' and distributors' unions against the main internet service providers and search engines active in France. The claimants deliberately chose to make a claim not against the illegal download and streaming sites, but rather against the intermediaries.

The Finance Amendment Bill 2013 extends the tax on television services to catch-up television services and video-on-demand services offered to French consumers by service providers or distributors established outside France. The collection of this tax from foreign entities shall be identical to that for the collection of value added tax (ie, a mini one-stop-shop system).

According to the Supreme Court, the consent given by musicians for the use of their performances as "phonograms published to be commercialised" includes communication to the public through paid downloads. The court so ruled recently when it issued six decisions to end a dispute between record labels and Spedidam, the collecting society representing the musicians.

A series of disputes pitted a reality television show production company against programme participants to determine whether their relationship served to qualify the participants as employees or whether the participants should be classified as performers. The disputes allowed the Court of Cassation to address a new problem relating to the evolution of this television genre.

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