Cour de cassation [Cass.] [supreme court for judicial matters], 1e civ., Sept. 30, 2015, Bull. civ. I (France)
Comment by Gauthier Lunardi:
The composer of the song “Forever” sued the singer and composer, Mr. Goldman, for the “Aicha” song.
In this decision, the judges of the Cour de cassation held that the judge of the Cour d’Appel did not respect two important Droit d’auteur (copyright) principles :
When an artist wants to sue another artist for Copyright infringement, he/she needs to sue ALL the authors of the song.
Most of the time, a song is created by several persons. In copyright law, we call it “Oeuvre de collaboration” (collaborative work). In this case, the composer of the song “Forever” did not sue the coauthor of the lyrics of the “Aicha” song.
Also, the judges of the Cour d’Appel had considered that the element copied in this case was not original. Indeed, they held that the 4 consecutive musical notes present in the two songs were not original. Therefore, this element cannot be protected by copyright law.
However, the Cour de cassation’s judges held that the lower court did a mistake because the judges should have taken the “Forever” song as a whole (and not only the 4 consecutive music notes) when they were evaluating the originality of the song.
In other words, the lower court should have verified whether the whole song was original. If so, the song should have been protected by copyright law
Cour de cassation [supreme court for judicial matters] (French) (2015): PDF
We will soon provide here an abstract in English of the decision.