Parisian Court Rules It Has Jurisdiction in ‘L’Origine du Monde’ vs Facebook Case

Mark Zuckerberg.

The legal saga involving a French teacher who posted an image of Gustave Courbet’s L’Origin du Monde on his Facebook page and the social media giant continues . AFP reports that a Parisian court has finally ruled it has jurisdiction over the case.

The ruling comes after long deliberation to establish whether Paris’s Civil Court had jurisdiction over legal matters pertaining to French users of Facebook, which adamantly denies being accountable to French laws.

The US–based company has a get-out clause which establishes that every Facebook user agrees any dispute will be taken to court in California.

But the plaintiff’s lawyer, Stéphane Cottineau, has described the clause as “abusive.” “Following your logic,” he said, “none of France’s 22 million Facebook users will ever be able to go to a French court should a disagreement occur.”


Gustave Courbet, Origin of the World (1866)
Photo: Courtesy Musée d’Orsay

Stephane Cottineau has deemed last week’s ruling as a “first victory won by David against Goliath.”

“This decision will create jurisprudence for other social media and other Internet giants who use their being headquartered abroad, mainly in the United States, to attempt to evade French law,” he declared.

The case has been going on since 2011. After posting the image of the 1866 Courbet painting—which challenged Facebook’s staunch no-nudity policy—and seeing his account closed as a result, the teacher filed a complaint in a French court claiming Facebook could not distinguish art from pornography. He seeks the reactivation of his Facebook account as well as €20,000 ($22,550) in damages.

According to AFP, Facebook is considering its response to the ruling. The case will be presented at the Paris court on May 21.

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