French court fines user-generated website for privacy breach
Paris court ruled on Thursday that a user-generated website had violated a film star's privacy
PARIS, March 28, 2008 (AFP) - A Paris court ruled on Thursday that a
user-generated website had violated a film star's privacy by hosting a link to
a report about him, in a potentially landmark ruling for the French Internet.
The court ruled that fuzz.fr made an "editorial" decision to link to a
story on a gossip news site about French actor Olivier Martinez and his
relationship with singer Kylie Minogue -- and was therefore responsible for
The fuzz.fr website -- taken offline following the lawsuit -- allowed users
to post links to their favorite stories elswhere on the web, with the most
popular ones automatically displayed at the top spot.
Its creator Eric Dupin was ordered to pay 1,000 euros (1,600 dollars) in
damages to Martinez and 1,500 euros in legal costs.
Dupin said the decision was a blow to other user-generated websites.
"It's a black day for French participatory websites, because it opens the
door to all kinds of (court) procedures," he said.
In addition to web giants such as the user-edited online encyclopedia
Wikipedia and the video-sharing site YouTube, many individual web users have
built sites based on fellow users' contributions.
Martinez' lawyer Emmanuel Asmar said he was "very satisfied with this
ruling which upholds respect for the right to privacy, whatever the platform."
Dupin plans to appeal to a higher court. But he has given up his website,
saying it was impossible to vet all the links posted there one by one.
It is the second time in a month a French court has cracked down on new
forms of publication on the Internet.
On March 3, a Paris court ordered a website that allows pupils to rate
their schools to stop naming teachers, after the country's educational
establishment denounced it as "public lynching."
The website, www.note2be.com, opened in January based on similar sites that have existed for years in Britain, the United States and many other countries around the world, proving wildly popular with students and parents.