Bastille Day is a French national holiday that
commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, an
important episode in the French Revolution. Each year, Paris
celebrates the day with an elaborate military parade down the Champs Elysées. Large
and small fire departments across France hold balls with music,
wine and dancing; and of course fireworks are set off from the Eiffel Tower.
This year, the theme of the Eiffel Tower fireworks show is
"Paris est une
fête" (Paris is a party), which is the
French translation of Hemingway's memoir "A Moveable Feast."
Perhaps you knew all this already. But did you know that, in
France, copyright law will protect the "Paris est une
fête" fireworks display?
When the 100th anniversary of the building of the Eiffel Tower
was commemorated, the French Supreme Court, or Cour de
Cassation, held (in its Judgment of March 3, 1992, Case No. 90-18081)
that a show "consisting of lighting effects of the tower by a
combination of ramps and projectors, along with image projections
and fireworks" is a work of art protected by copyright. In
making this holding, the Court affirmed a lower court's
decision that a publisher cannot sell postcards reproducing
photographs of the show without the show designer's prior
The Supreme Court's ruling is a good illustration of how
extensive the notion of copyrightable work is under French law. Article 112-1 of the French Intellectual
Property Code, states that works are protected by copyright
"whatever their kind, form of expression, merit or
So, if you get a chance to see the "Paris est une
fête," you might be reminded of original artworks
and copyright protection.
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