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Corbis Sygma case Surprisingly, the Court of Cassation did not ratify the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal which had ruled that the Corbis Sygma press agency had committed an act of infringement for having digitized and disseminated photos of a photographer  without   his  permission  .

The Court’s assessment of the violation in the Corbis Sygma case: –

The Court of Cassation, in a surprising move, overturns the judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal relating to the alleged infringement committed by the Corbis Sygma press agency. The agency had scanned and distributed photos without the photographer’s permission.

In its decision of May 30, 2012, the Court of Cassation insists on the need to examine the specificities of the contract and the mandate received by the agency for the marketing of the images. The court points to the absence of a clause dealing with digital exploitation and urges the Court of Appeal to examine the contractual provisions and the intention to allow potential buyers to view the images.

The complexities of contract and digital exploitation  : –

The Court of Cassation refrains from ruling on the question of whether or not the actions of the agency constitute an infringement. Instead, it orders the Court of Appeal to examine the economy of the contract between Corbis Sygma and the photographer, because it did not provide for its digital exploitation when it was created in 1995.

Corbis Sygma, now in compulsory liquidation, had dismissed the photographer for economic reasons. However, an agreement has been reached between the parties for the exploitation of the image archives. According to the agreement, the agency would pay the photographer 25% of the income  generated  by the archives.

The case is complicated because the agency lost 753 photos of the ex-employee and proceeded to market other photos on its website without obtaining the photographer’s authorization for digitization or dissemination on the Internet.

The decision of the Court of Cassation underlines the importance of analyzing contractual arrangements and taking into account the evolution of technology in digital exploitation cases. He emphasizes the need for a full assessment of the circumstances surrounding the alleged violation and the intent of the parties involved.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeal is responsible for reassessing the case, taking into account the contractual aspects and determining whether the agency’s actions constituted an infringement or fell within the scope of the mandate received for image marketing.