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Copyright – Photographs – Originality – Conditions

By Pierre Greffe

It is consistent that the photographer’s work consisted in taking photographs of two-dimensional images which he was asked to faithfully reproduce under the supervision of the designer of the said images.

The photographer did not therefore have any freedom to choose the subject of the photographs, or any freedom in the composition thereof, the framing and the lighting serving solely to reproduce an accurate representation of the images and not to express his own sensitivity or personality.

Thus, by executing the choices imposed and using his technical know-how to accurately reproduce the images, he cannot claim any protection by copyright to the photographs to which he asserts rights.      

Paris Court of Appeal. 13 Nov. 2009. Section 5. Division 2


Case law is today consistent on the fact that if the choice of the photograph or the lighting must comply with technical demands justified by the need to show off the product, there is no creative effort and the photograph shall not be protected by the law (Paris CA. 4th Div. 11 Sept. 1998. Gaz. Pal. 25-26 Nov. 1998. – Paris District Court. 7 Jan. 2003. Gaz. Pal. Nov. 2003. – Paris CA. 4th Div. B. 25 June 2005. Gaz. Pal. Nov. 2005. – Paris CA. 4th Div. A. 5 Dec. 2007. Gaz. Pal. May 2008. – Paris CA. 4th Div. A. 10 Sept. 2008. Gaz. Pal. May 2009. F. & P. Greffe. La Publicité & La Loi. 11th ed. 2009. no. 562 et seq.).

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