The Appeal Court of Paris considers that auction catalogues are intellectual works eligible for protection by copyright

Symbole copyrightAppeal Court of Paris, 26 June 2013, Stéphane Briolant and SA Camard et associés against SA (1)


In a decision made on 26 June 2013, The Paris Appeal Court ruled that the company, international leader in valuations of the art market on Internet, should pay almost €900,000 to photographer Stéphane Briolant and auction house Camard et associés.


The Appeal Court upheld the claims of counterfeit and parasitic competition regarding the reproduction, and digitalization, without permission, of both the auction sales catalogues and photographs.


As regards the auction sales catalogues edited by the Camard company:

Firstly, the Appeal Court reiterated that a catalogue can be considered to be a protected work according to article L 112-3 of the Intellectual Property Code as long as “the work of selection, classification and presentation reflects the personality of the author”. (2)


The Court considered that certain auction catalogues reveal an originality which “ is demonstrated by their composition, the methodical presentation of lots in a certain order, the choice of quotes and the drafting of biographical summaries, all of which display a unique character which distinguishes them from other auction catalogues and demonstrates an esthetic approach reflecting the author’s style.”


This being the case, the Court upheld that even the partial reproduction of these catalogues, without permission, constitutes counterfeit.


As regards the photographs reproduced in the catalogues:

The Appeal Court sought to distinguish between original photographs and those which are not considered to be intellectual works “due to their purely technical and informative nature”.


The Court recognized the originality of certain photographs in which the photographer had gone beyond a mere snapshot of the objects but had specifically researched their situation and context.


Appeal jurisdiction concluded that, by reproducing the original works on its site, had also committed counterfeit. has lodged an appeal against this decision and also intends to file a complaint in the courts against the photographer and the auction house, being of the opinion that they “have deliberately misled the Appeal Court in order to obtain a favorable decision for their own ends, notably by the presentation and use of false intellectual documents and by concocting a scenario of fanciful events.” (3)


To be followed!


2) Based on article L. 112-3 of the Intellectual Property Code
3) Press release by on July 9 2013