A Facebook nude painting case? A Facebook faceoff over a nude portrait was heard by a Paris appeals court this week, which ruled in favor of an art-lover who had taken a pic and uploaded the famous painting to his FB page. When French artist Gustave Courbet painted the L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World) in 1866, it’s difficult to imagine the legal quagmire that would be created 150 years later. The painting – a nude framing of a woman with her legs spread open – was photographed by a French user and posted to his Facebook wall. His account was then yanked by Facebook, and as all things go, a “hairy” litigation case has ensued.
Reports Reuters news service on Feb. 12: “Facebook blocked the account of a French professor and art lover after he uploaded a picture of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 canvas ‘The Origin of the World,’ which shows a close-up view of female genitals.”
In today’s culture of rampant pornography and sexualized adverts thrust into our noggin at the turn of every magazine page and the click of every channel change, it’s hard to imagine a more inane hullabaloo. But a French court said Frederic Durand-Baissas, a 57-year-old Parisian teacher, can sue the social media giant for suspending his account back in 2011 without notice.
Frederic is asking for 20,000 euros (approximately $22,480) in “damages.”
Facebook’s “Community Standards” page says: “We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content — particularly because of their cultural background or age… We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.”
Facebook, based out of Palo Alto, California, argued that French consumer rights do not apply to the U.S. company because “its worldwide service is free.” Lawyers said the suit could only be heard in a California court, and said the French court was “incompetent” to oversee this case.
But a High Court judge ruled in 2015 that, “if the proposed service was free to the user, Facebook was generating significant profits from the business, including via paid applications, advertising and other resources,” Reuters reported.
“This is a great satisfaction and a great victory after five years of legal action,” commented lawyer Stephane Cottineau, who represents Durand-Baissas. “All web giants will have to now answer for their possible faults in French courts,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
Facebook is getting a nude awakening, one might say.
The masterpiece, which is on display in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, depicts a provocative pose of a female’s body. According to the museum’s website, Courbet “regularly painted female nudes, sometimes in a frankly libertine vein. But in The Origin of the World he went to lengths of daring and frankness which gave his painting its peculiar fascination.”
“On one hand, Facebook shows a total permissiveness regarding violence and ideas conveyed on the social network,” Cottineau said. “And on the other hand, it shows an extreme prudishness regarding the body and nudity.”
Facebook: Prude on the nudes?