Google wants greater French acceptance after winning TF1 copyright case

Google is waving its victory in front of French culture makers, after emerging winner from a copyright infringement case brought by France’s largest TV network.

TF1 sued YouTube and Dailymotion for intellectual property abuse in 2008, claiming YouTube was hosting thousands of clips of TV shows and movies for which it owned rights, including La Môme and Halloween.

TF1 claimed more than €130 million in damages. But a Paris judge on Tuesday finally dismissed the claims. The Dailymotion verdict is due in September, Dailymotion tells paidContent.

Christophe Muller,  YouTube’s head of southern Europe, Middle East and Africa partnerships, used a company blog to drape the result in the cloak of internet freedom:

“The overall decision is a victory for everyone who uses the Web. … After this decision, creators can be secure to post their materials on YouTube and other platforms and we can host their content without fearing a giant liability. The end result will be more videos posted on the Net, more revenue generated for creative artists, and more exposure to a global audience for these artists.”

And Muller used the case to make a play to French lawmakers, who are notoriously sceptical of how the large U.S. firm might impact on French language and culture:

“The verdict demonstrates how the Internet is enriching French culture. Over the past year, we have signed contracts with five French collecting societies to pay royalties to French writers, musicians, and other artists. More generally, we have a major investment plan for the French economy and culture, demonstrating how committed we are to France.

“By embracing the Web, this verdict moves France a step forward to further benefit from Internet’s massive economic and cultural opportunity. We hope this judgement will allow us to build constructive partnerships and bring more French language content online.”

When asked about the “major investment plan” Muller referred to, Google later pointed to this announcement of a new HQ and its ambition to take on French engineers.

YouTube’s travails have been mixed in Europe. In December 2009, it lost a copyright case brought by Italy’s Mediaset. But in September 2010 it defeated similar claims from Spain’s Telecinco. And YouTube has convinced many broadcasters across the continent to officially add clips and to use its ContentID copyright filter tool, plus has added full TV catch-up shows in the UK from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel Five.

The TF1 case gave an interesting insight in to how one broadcasters values its content. At one point, it used a metric of €20,000 per copyright breach to claim damages.

But the judge ordered TF1 to pay YouTube €80,000 in costs.