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French magazine held liable for publishing piracy guide

By | Published on Wednesday 1 July 2015

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A court in France has ruled that a magazine publisher violated French copyright law by running an article offering some top tips on how to access illegal sources of music and movie content online, including the low down on the best torrent clients, and guidance that Google is the pirate’s friend because “with some clever keywords and in a handful of clicks you will fill your hard drives with joy and laughter”.

French record industry group SCPP reckoned that the article, in computing mag Téléchargement last summer, violated a French law that forbids people from “knowingly encouraging” others to use software to infringe copyright.

The magazine argued that its article stressed several times that piracy was illegal. But, according to Torrentfreak, a court in Nanterre decided that wasn’t sufficient to avoid liability, and fined the publisher 10,000 euros, roughly the monies generated by sale of the magazine.

Fans of copyright case law will surely contrast this ruling with the 1981 case of RCA v Fairfax, am I right? Yeah. Ha. Who’d of thought it. Well, in that Australian case a magazine article bigging up the then growing world of home taping was accused of so called ‘authorising infringement’.

But that magazine publisher won in court, limiting, to an extent, the reach of the concept of authorising infringement in Australia, and arguably under English law too. Though the French case involves a different article, a different body of copyright law and whole different moment in history.

Still, it’s an interesting case all the same, with the ruling obviously welcomed by SCPP, which told Next INpact: “A line had been crossed. This is a magazine which clearly and shamelessly incited piracy. That’s what prompted us to act”.

Hmm, you know how we just told you that it’s well easy to find free movies and music via a Google search. Well we can’t stress enough that piracy is illegal. In fact you’re probably best off just not using Google at all. And I’d stop reading magazines if I was you.