French court issues mixed ruling in Facebook nudity case

Corporate Law

A French court ruled Thursday that Facebook failed to fulfill its contractual obligations by closing without prior notice the account of a user who posted a photo of a famous 19th century nude painting.

But the Paris civil court also refused to order the company to restore the account or pay damages as requested by the user, a primary school teacher and art lover. The court said no damages were warranted because he didn't prove any harm suffered due to the account's closure and there was no need to order the account reopened because he was able to set up a new account immediately.

The court also said the 60-year-old Parisian teacher, Frederic Durand-Baissas, didn't prove the deactivation was caused by his posting of the painting.

The judge wrote that Durand-Baissas also didn't provide evidence that he lost contact information for hundreds of "friends," as his lawyer argued during a trial last month.

The plaintiff claimed his profile was suspended in 2011 hours after he posted a photo of Gustave Courbet's "The Origin of the World," a painting from 1866 that depicts female genitalia. He asked the court to order Facebook to reactivate his initial account and to pay him 20,000 euros ($23,500) in damages.

His lawyer, Stephane Cottineau, said that the decision was disappointing and that he would appeal the ruling.

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