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Droits d'auteur (cf. Copyright) - a brief overview

The French expression 'droits d'auteur' is generally offered as the equivalent of the common law concept of 'copyright', but there are a number of differences between the two concepts and it would be imprudent to consider the two terms to be identical in legal terms.

French Law states, in translation, that 'droits d'auteur' grant protection to "any product of the intellect, provided that it is original" and that a work is original if "it bears the stamp of its author's personality".

However, ideas per se are not protected and there must be some sort of creative effort.

Article 112-2 of the French Code of Intellectual Property sets out a (non-exhaustive) list of "oeuvres de l'esprit" or "products of the intellect" which include

   - literary works, journalistic or scientific articles, brochures, titles etc
- conferences, court submissions (but not statute or case law), sermons etc
- dramatic works
- musical works
- software etc.

There has been some international movement towards harmonising concepts in this last field, for example the European Directive of 14 May 1991 relating to software offers its protection of the software, "if it is original in the sense that it is the author's own intellectual creation" and the Directive goes on to state that "no other criteria shall be applied to determine its eligibility for protection".

The foregoing is by no means intended to be exhaustive and for specific information relating to Droits d'auteur, please click here  .

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