The adoption of the law on the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital era: astep forward the French creation defence

18/11/2021

The Constitutional Council decision validated the constitutionality of the law on the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital era in its almost entirety. This validation enabled the publication of the law in the Journal Officiel on 26 October 2021 and the consecration of the Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority (Arcom).

The Constitutional Council has ruled on the constitutionality of Article 25 of the law on the regulation and protection of access to cultural works in the digital era. This article introduces a higher ceiling for the financial sanction that can be inflicted on audiovisual services publishers who have failed to fulfil their obligation to contribute to the development of cinematographic and audiovisual works.

In its decision of 21 October, the Constitutional Council ruled that sanctioning the failure to fulfil this obligation this duty is compliant with the general interest objective of promoting current creation. On the other hand, based on Article 8 of the Declaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen [1], the Constitutional Council ruled that by providing, in the event of a repeat offence, “by increasing the amount of the penalty without defining the conditions, in particular the time limit, under which this repeat offence can be established, the legislator has retained a manifestly disproportionate penalty[2]. Therefore, The Constitutional Council censured the words “or three times the amount in the event of a repeat offence” in Article 25 of the law as being contrary to the Constitution.

In addition, the Constitutional Council also censured several ‘legislative riders’[3]ex officio without prejudging the conformity of their content with other constitutional requirements. Indeed, it censured :

– Article 12, paragraph II , which specifies the standards applicable to certain televisions and adapters that allow the reception of digital terrestrial television (DTT) services in ultra-high definition;

– Article 16, which modifies the arrangements for the resumption of regional and local channels on networks other than satellite networks;

– Article 18, which requires distributors of high-definition (HD) services to resume local DTT services also in HD.

This decision allowed the adoption, on 26 October 2021, of this essential law for the defence of French creation.

This law has been very favourably received by the Minister of Culture, as well as by the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel (CSA) and the Haute autorité pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur internet (Hadopi). These two entities will thus be able to carry out their merger project and concretise their project to create Arcom which, according to the CSA, will allow “to constitute an integrated regulator with extended competences, notably on the chain of creation, from the setting of obligations to the protection of copyright and the fight against piracy[4]. As a result of the merger of the CSA and Hadopi, Arcom will benefit from the competences and heritage of both bodies and from a wider scope of action to carry out its missions, which will concern in particular “digital issues, the fight against infox and hateful content, and the regulation of subscription video platforms with the obligations incumbent on them[5]. The CSA underlines that Arcom will not be “a simple juxtaposition of competences” but a “new model of audiovisual and digital regulation[6] more attentive to the demands of its audience and to the defence of freedom of expression, information and creation.

As soon as it comes into being, which is set for 1 January 2022, Arcom will have to carry out various tasks in order to accompany the changes in the audiovisual and digital sector and to ensure its economic equilibrium

By the IP/IT team of UGGC Avocats.

Sources :

https://www.contexte.com/numerique/actualite/140454.html

https://www.culture.gouv.fr/Presse/Communiques-de-presse/Decision-du-Conseil-constitutionnel-concernant-la-loi-relative-a-la-regulation-et-a-la-protection-de-l-acces-aux-aeuvres-culturelles-a-l-ere-numerique

https://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/decision/2021/2021826DC.htm

https://www.csa.fr/Informer/Espace-presse/Communiques-de-presse/En-route-vers-l-ARCOM

https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr

[1] Article 8 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789: “The law must establish only strictly and obviously necessary penalties, and no one may be punished except by virtue of a law established and promulgated prior to the offence, and legally applied.

[2] Decision No. 2021-826 DC of 21 October 2021, point 10.

[3] A legislative rider is an amendment that has no connection with the bill or proposed law initially tabled.

[4] See on this subject the press release En route vers l’ARCOM! published on 26 October 2021, https://www.csa.fr/Informer/Espace-presse/Communiques-de-presse/En-route-vers-l-ARCOM

[5] See on this subject the press release “En route vers l’ARCOM!” op. cit.

[6] See on this subject the press release “On the way to ARCOM!” op. cit.

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