On 22 October 2014, the French Minister of Culture and Communication presented a new bill aiming to bring France’s law into conformity with EU directives in the fields of copyright and cultural heritage (Bill n° 2319 Law aiming to adapt to the law of the European Union in the Fields of Literary and Artistic Property and Cultural Heritage). The bill is intended to amend French law on three separate topics:
1. The term of protection of related rights of performers and producers of sound recordings
The bill aims to transpose into French law EU Directive 2011/77/EU on the term of protection of copyright and related rights and to extend, the term of protection of related rights of performers and producers of sound recordings from 50 years to 70. However, the protection for performers and producers of videos would remain at 50 years. The bill also ensures the exploitation of sound recordings during the additional period of protection by providing that performers can recover their rights if the producer does not offer sufficient copies to the public.
2. The use of orphan works by non-profit institutions
The bill is also intended to transpose EU Directive 2012/28/EU on certain permitted uses of orphan works by various non-profit institutions (libraries, museums, archive services, etc.). These institutions will no longer need the authorization of a collecting society to digitize and make available works from their collections which are considered as orphan, that is to say works for which the rights holders have not been found despite diligent search. The bill provides that, in the case where the right holder is finally known, the institution must stop using the work, unless it obtains the agreement of the right holder. In addition, under the proposed bill, the right holder will receive a compensation in relation to the damage sustained by the use of his work.
3. The return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from territory of member state
Finally, in accordance with EU Directive 2014/60/EU on the return of cultural objects, the bill would amend the French Heritage Code to ensure the restitution in favor of a Member State of any cultural object considered a "national treasures of artistic, historic or archaeological value" unlawfully removed from its territory after January 1st, 1993. The possessor of the cultural object must prove that he/she exercised due care and attention at the acquisition of the goods. If the possessor can demonstrate such due care, he/she shall be entitled to a compensation on return of the goods on the territory of the requesting Member State. The bill also aims to extend the limitation period applicable to return proceedings from one year to three years, starting from the date upon which the authority of the requesting state was aware of the location of the cultural object and the identity of its owner.
The government has initiated an accelerated procedure for this bill. The bill was passed by the National Assembly on 20 November 2014 and will be discussed before the Senate on 18 December 2014.