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Facebook to face trial in France over nude painting – Gustave Courbet’s ‘The Origin of the World’

Social media giant Facebook would be tried in France for blocking a French teacher's account after he posted an image of a nude painting, a media report said.

By: | Published: February 15, 2016 10:14 AM

Social media giant Facebook would be tried in France for blocking a French teacher’s account after he posted an image of a nude painting, a media report said.

A Paris appeals court threw out Facebook’s appeal after the social media giant argued that only the US courts had jurisdiction to hear cases against it. The court also backed a March 2015 ruling which said Facebook’s clause forcing all users to agree that any litigation must be based in California, where the site is based, was abusive’, The Local reported on Saturday.

Facebook was sued by a teacher whose account was blocked after he posted a 19th century painting by Gustave Courbet, “The Origin of the World”, depicting a woman’s genitalia.

The teacher filed a complaint against the social media giant, saying the site could not differentiate between pornography and art.

Noteworthy, Facebook closed its legal arm “Facebook France” in May 2012, meaning complaints have to be filed in the US.

On the basis of this, in a hearing on January 22, Facebook’s lawyer argued that the site did not fall under French jurisdiction as users have to sign a clause agreeing that only a California court can rule in disputes relating to the firm.

However, the teacher’s lawyer Stephane Cottineau said, “It is hugely significant because this decision creates jurisprudence not just for Facebook but for other social media networks who use their being headquartered abroad, mainly in the United States, to attempt to evade French law.”

“They might be multi-nationals but the court ruling means they are not outside French law. If they set up in France and contract workers here, then French law must be applied to them,” Cottineau added.

The French court will now decide whether or not the teacher’s freedom of expression was violated when Facebook blocked his account.

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