• Copyright and freedom of expression as human rights
• Ashby Donald and Others v France (10 January 2013)
• Reporting current events and commercial speech
• What would have happened in the UK?
• What does the ruling mean to fashion industry?
Copyright and freedom of expression as
Copyright is a property right
• Article 1, Protocol 1, ECHR
Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful
enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his
possessions except in the public interest and subject to the
conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of
The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair
the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary
to control the use of property in accordance with the general
interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions
• Applies to IP: Anheuser-Busch Inc v Portugal (2007)
Freedom of expression is not absolute
Article 10 ECHR
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall
include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart
information and ideas without interference by public authority
and regardless of frontiers. […]
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions,
restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are
necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national
security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of
disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the
protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing
the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for
maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
• “Les crèations des industries saisonnières de l'habillement et de la
parure” are considered “oeuvres de l'esprit” protected by copyright
(Article L-112-2 No 14 CPI).
• Since 1968 fashion houses have had control over the images
(photographs and videos) taken during their shows.
• The author cannot prevent “[l]a reproduction ou la représentation,
intégrale ou partielle, d'une oeuvre d'art graphique, plastique ou
architecturale, par voie de presse écrite, audiovisuelle ou en ligne,
dans un but exclusif d'information immédiate et en relation directe
avec cette dernière” (Article L-122-5 No 9 CPI).
• In any case, “Les exceptions énumérées […] ne peuvent porter
atteinte à l'exploitation normale de l'oeuvre ni causer un préjudice
injustifié aux intérêts légitimes de l'auteur.” (Article L-122-5 CPI)
Ashby Donald and Others v France
(10 January 2013)
• Applicants were 3 fashion photographers who:
o were invited to attend a series of fashion shows relating to
women’s collections for autumn/winter 2003-2004;
o transmitted the photographs taken to corporation named Zepelin,
without obtaining the required permissions first.
• Zepelin transferred the images to US corporation Viewfinder, which
eventually published the images on its website and made them
available for free, upon payment of a price, and also for actual
• The Fédération française de la couture, along with 5 fashion
houses, sued for copyright infringement.
• Defence rooted within Article 122-5 No 9 (reporting current events)
and Article 10 ECHR.
• Tribunal correctionel de Paris (2005), Paris Court of Appeal (2007)
and Court of Cassation (2008) found them liable of copyright
infringement pursuant to Article 353-2 and -3 CPI (délit de
• Paris Court of Appeal ordered them to pay:
o fines between EUR 3,000 and 8,000;
o damages amounting to EUR 255,000;
o for publication of the decision in three professional
The case before the ECtHR
• Applicants’ arguments:
o fashion photographs are tantamount to “information” and
o their publication on a website is protected as freedom of
expression, even if the purpose is commercial.
o The public has a right to be informed about current
fashion trends and preventing dissemination of related
photographs represents a disproportionate interference with
Article 10 ECHR.
o Interference with freedom of expression is subject to 3 conditions:
1. Prescribed by law;
2. Pursue a legitimate aim;
3. Motivated as being necessary in a democratic society.
The response of the Court
• In principle online publication of the photographs in question could
have fallen within Article 10.
• However, liability followed prescription by law (CPI).
• Limitation on freedom of information intended to protect the
legitimated rights (copyright) of fashion houses.
• No evidence that sanctions had financially “strangled” applicants.
• Commercial speech-character of the publication of the photographs
weakened the freedom of expression/information argument.
• Wide margin of appreciation left to national authorities.
• Exceptions to freedom of expression to be construed strictly and
• Publication of infringing pictures was not related to matter of general
o A different outcome if otherwise?
o Scope of national exceptions and limitations
• Exhaustive copyright subject-matter categorisation
o No copyright in fashion creations per se
• But things may have changed: post-Infopaq string of cases
o An originality-based scrutiny?
• Originality in photographs
o No longer sufficient skill, labour or effort? Temple Islands
Collection v New English Teas  EWPCC 1
o (Mis-)interpreting Case C-145/10 Painer?
• UK system of exceptions and limitations (under revision)
o News reporting: photographs are and will remain excluded
o Criticism and review: of the work
• Alternative forms of protection
UK copyright and freedom of expression
“It is in theory possible that the propensity of an injunction restraining a
threatened breach of copyright to impinge upon a defendant's Article 10
[ECHR] right to freedom of expression might occasionally incline the
court, on particular facts, to decline the discretionary remedy of an
injunction, and leave the claimant to a claim in damages.”
Per Briggs J, Rocknroll v News Group Newspapers
 EWHC 24 (Ch), 
• Copyright is not immune from Article 10 ECHR scrutiny
• Section 171(3) CDPA allows copyright enforcement be restricted or
prevented on grounds of public interest
What does the ruling mean to the fashion industry?
• Judicial willingness to accept that copyright may unduly interfere
with freedom of expression: “adding an external human rights
perspective to the justification of copyright enforcement” (Voorhoof
o At least in theory: Neij and Sunde Kolmisoppi v Sweden, or The
Pirate Bay case (2013);
o CJEU case law (Charter of Fundamental Rights).
• Even in legal systems where copyright extends to fashion, such
protection may be superseded by freedom of expression.
• Importance of context in which “infringing” publication takes place.
• In any case, matter in which wide margin of appreciation is left to
member states …
o Scope of copyright exceptions and limitations.
Is human rights scrutiny the real driver of change??
Or rather CJEU?