New French law to promote Intellectual Property rights and cultural heritage

AnticiperThe French Parliament passed a Law on February 20, 2015 (n°2015-195) transposing three different European directives in the fields of copyright and related rights and the return of cultural goods.

These transpositions reflect a significant improvement in respect of protection of certain related rights and of orphan works and a strengthening of the European cooperation for the restitution of national treasures.

Three European directives have been transposed by the Law n°2015-195:

  • Directive 2006/116/CE of September 27, 2011 extending the term of protection for phonogram performers and producers
  • Directive 2012/28/UE of October 25, 2012 on the new regime of orphan works
  • Directive 2014/60/UE of May 14, 2014 on the interstate cooperation for the restitution of cultural goods.
  1. Directive 2006/116/CE: increased protection of phonogram performers and producers.

The Law of February 20, 2015 amended Article L.211-4 of the French Intellectual Property Code (FIPC), extending, for the performers and producers of phonograms, the term of protection of 50 years to 70 years after the 1st of January of the calendar year following the moment when the work was made available or communicated to the public.  However, the protection for performers and producers of videos would remain at 50 years.

The Law also inserts new articles in the FIPC (L.212-3-1 to L.212-3-4) which grants performers the right to terminate the agreement whereby the performer assigned his/her rights to a phonogram producer, if the latter does not sufficiently exploit the work.  Hence, the revised law brings a more favorable environment for performers of phonograms. The 20-year extension term   is accompanied with the introduction of an additional yearly compensation for those performers remunerated on a lump-sum basis by producers of phonograms in exchange for the assignment of their rights. .The second amendment will enable them to find a way out in case of a detrimental contractual relationship with a producer.

These new guarantees will probably lead to an increase of the number of new performers and producers in France.

  1. Directive 2012/28/UE: new regime of orphan works.

The Law introduces a new Chapter in the FIPC, enabling the public libraries, museums, archives, depositary institutions of cinematographic and audio heritage and educational institutions to make works considered as orphan available to the public, i.e where their owner cannot be reasonably identified and located after extended researches.

This amendment represents a major legislative progress considering the difficulties that legislation about orphan works had caused in the past.

  1. Directive 2014/60/UE: restitution of cultural goods.

Finally, the revised Law embeds new provisions in the French Heritage Code to guarantee the return of cultural goods which are considered national treasures and which present a major interest for the national heritage in matter of History, Art and Archeology, and that have been unlawfully removed from their national territory after December 31, 1992. This new process facilitates the restitution of the goods and contributes to the enhanced cultural cooperation at the European level.