Episode 1 – Copyright issues on the campaign trail


UGGC Law Firm proposes to analyze the presidential campaign through the prism of intellectual property and personal data, at a rate of one episode every 15 days.

Episode 1: Copyright issues on the campaign trail.

For this first episode, the firm’s intellectual property team looks back at the broadcasting of two videos announcing presidential candidacies which, each in their own way, brought copyright into the campaign:

  • The first one integrates film extracts without the authorization of the rights holders;
  • The second one shows a candidate in front of the Louvre pyramid without the authorization of the Louvre museum.

Our proposal has no partisan vocation. It is limited to a legal analysis of these two current events which allow, in the end, to recall the extent of the prerogatives conferred by the copyright when some present it as a right of censorship coming to limit the freedom of expression (of which one would not know how to do without a fortiori in period of election…).


The campaign clip of the ” Reconquête ! ” candidate would have reproduced 114 sequences[1]of films without the authorization of the rights holders, in particular scenes from the film Joan of Arc (1999) by Luc Besson or the film A Monkey in Winter (1962) by Henri Verneuil[2].

Under the Intellectual Property Code, any representation or reproduction in whole or in part without the consent of the author or his successors or assigns is illegal[3].

In other words, any use of a work without authorization is necessarily an act of infringement, regardless of the good faith of the infringer[4].

On this basis, the candidate and his party “Reconquest!” were summoned before the Judicial Court of Paris for copyright infringement, in particular by the company Gaumont; and the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers – a collective management society better known by its acronym: “SACD”.

At the hearing held on January 27, 2022, the candidate would have invoked the exception of citation[5]to justify the fact that no authorization was requested from the rights holders.

However, and without prejudging the solution of the Judicial Court (whose deliberation is set for March 4, 2022), it seems to us that this defense is not appropriate. 

Indeed, the exception of quotation is admitted under strictly defined conditions relating to (i) the object of the borrowing; (ii) its extent; (iii) its recognition and (iv) its purpose – it being specified that these conditions are cumulative:

  1. As for the object of the borrowing, there is no legal definition of the quotation, so that one must rely on jurisprudence which specifies that the quotation is a partial identical reproduction (or representation, if necessary)[6].
  2. As for the extent of the borrowing, it must be brief. This brevity is assessed in relation to the total length of the work in which the quotation is incorporated.

Thus, were not considered as a short quote:

  • A 17 minute and 36 second film clip included in a 58 minute program[7] ;
  • The representation of images of a software for 3 seconds in an advertising film, i.e. one tenth of the total duration of the film[8].
  1. With regard to the recognition of borrowing, the name of the author and the source must be indicated (in the credits for example).
  2. The purpose of the borrowing must be justified by the critical, polemical, educational, scientific or informative nature of the work to which the extract is incorporated.

Au cas présent, au moins 2 conditions semblent faire défIn this case, at least 2 conditions seem to be missing:

  • No reference to the name of the author, nor to the source of the extract has been integrated in the clip and its credits;
  • The purpose of the clip is to announce a presidential candidacy, therefore it seems to us that the quotation cannot be justified by its critical, polemical, educational, scientific or informative character.

In doing so, the exception of quotation should not be admitted and an authorization of the right holders was required.

The rightful owners may also invoke, in any case, an infringement of their moral rights for the use of their work for political purposes and be compensated for this[9].


The candidate of the National Rally chose to launch her campaign on social networks by publishing a video filmed in the courtyard of the Louvre, with the Pyramid in the background.

The Louvre is the exclusive assignee of all proprietary rights to the pyramid designed by architect Ieoh Ming Pei.

As such, the representations or reproductions of the image of the Pyramid[10]must be authorized in advance by the Musée du Louvre.

Thus, any representation or reproduction in whole or in part of the Pyramid made without the consent of the author or his assigns is illegal.

Is any video or photograph of the Pyramid illegal?


Indeed, the panorama exception allows any physical person to reproduce or represent an architectural work, placed in a permanent way on the public way[11].Indeed, the panorama exceptionof panorama allows any physical person to reproduce or represent an architectural work, placed in a permanent way on the public way[11].

Thus, an individual can take and post photos of the Louvre Pyramid on social networks without being prosecuted on the grounds that he or she did not request permission from the rights holders.

The solution is different for legal entities for which the exception is never intended to apply (the exceptions to copyright being of strict interpretation).

In this case, considering that the video was filmed by the candidate’s political party, i.e. by a legal person, the panorama exception would not apply.

In the alternative, the relevance of invoking the theory of accessory is questionable.

According to the theory of the accessory, when the work of the mind is not the principal subject of the image, but constitutes the secondary plan of it, the exclusive right of its author is limited and the prior authorization of this one is no longer necessary.[12]

Generally speaking, the jurisprudence proceeds to an analysis in concreto of the place occupied by the object protected by copyright, both on the purely visual level and on the intellectual level.

  • On the visual level, the candidate appears in the foreground and the Louvre pyramid in the background, but in a visible way;
  • On the intellectual level, the candidate indicated in her publication that she wanted to return to “the place where Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term began,” so the fact that she was filmed in the courtyard of the Louvre and in front of the Pyramid is not accidental.

For these reasons, the theory of accessory does not seem to be validly invoked.

As no exception is intended to apply, it seems to us that an authorization from the Louvre Museum was required, even if the latter has not yet pronounced itself on the consequences it wishes to give to the diffusion of the video.

The heirs of the architect could, in any case, invoke their moral rights to obtain the removal of the video from social networks.

Du reste, la vidéo est toujMoreover, the video is still accessible on the candidate’s social networks, in particular on Instagram – which ultimately raises the question of the platforms’ liability in case of dissemination of infringing content. Indeed, under Article 17 of the Copyright Directive[13], Instagram legally performs an act of communication to the public for content uploaded by its users, which in principle obliges it to remove infringing content.

Next episode, in 15 days ….

The intellectual property team of UGGC Avocats

Tags : copyright, economic rights, moral rights, presidential campaign, freedom of expression, exception, campaign clip, infringement, rights holders, presidential candidates

[1] According to the count made by R. Imbach, R. Geoffroy, P. Breteau, A. Maad in “Le clip de campagne d’Eric Zemmour décortiqué : 114 séquences ” emprunées ” et quelques contresens ” (Eric Zemmour’s campaign video deconstructed: 114 “borrowed” sequences and some misinterpretations), Le Monde, December 3rd, 2021, https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2021/12/03/le-clip-de-campagne-d-eric-zemmour-decortique-114-sequences-empruntees-et-quelques-contresens_6104627_4355770.html.

[2] S. Laurent, ” Eric Zemmour confronts the rights holders of the images used in his campaign launch clip “, Le Monde, January 27th, 2022, https://www.lemonde.fr/election-presidentielle-2022/article/2022/01/27/justice-eric-zemmour-face-aux-ayants-droit-des-images-utilisees-dans-son-clip-de-lancement-de-campagne_6111287_6059010.html.

[3] Article L. 122-4 of the Intellectual Property Code.

For an application to the reproduction of a photograph of a film scene, see Civ. 1ère, June 3, 1997, n°95-14.664.

[4] Civ. 1st, May 29, 2001.

[5] Article L. 122-5-3°a) of the Intellectuel Property Code

[6] CA Paris, 4e ch., 9 nov. 1989: JurisData n° 1989-025328.

[7] TGI Paris, Sptember 14th, 1994.

[8] Paris, September 22th, 1988.

[9] Article L. 121-1 of the Intellectuel Property Code

[10] Considered as a work of the mind within the meaning of article L. 112-2 7° of the Code of the intellectual property.

[11] Article L. 122-5-11° of the Intellectuel Property Code

[12] Com., March 1(th, 2005, n°03-14.820 : « dans les vues en cause, l’œuvre de MM. X… et Y… se fondait dans l’ensemble architectural de la place des Terreaux dont elle constituait un simple élément, la cour d’appel en a exactement déduit qu’une telle présentation de l’œuvre litigieuse était accessoire au sujet traité, résidant dans la représentation de la place, de sorte qu’elle ne réalisait pas la communication de cette œuvre au public ».

[13] Directive (EU) 2019 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on copyright and related rights in the digital single market and amending Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32019L0790&from=DA.