GUSTAVE COURBET’S L’Origine du Monde Sparks Facebook Legal Battle




Social media giant Facebook has been taken to court by a French user whose account was closed down after he posted an image of Courbet’s racy painting(1866). According to Le Figaro, the world-famous oil-on-canvas was part of a promo for an art history video about the artwork, broadcasted by the highbrow TV channel Arte.

The plaintiff, a Parisian schoolteacher described by his lawyer Stéphane Cottineau as “a decent man, cultivated, and attached to the transmission of knowledge,” is seeking the reactivation of his Facebook account as well as €20,000 in damages.

The American company’s get-out clause is that, by opening an account, every Facebook user agrees any dispute will be taken to court in California, home to the company’s headquarters. On Thursday, Facebook asked Paris’s civil court to declare that it lacks jurisdiction over the case.

Facebook’s lawyer Caroline Lyannaz has argued that that French consumer laws don’t apply to Facebook as the service is free of charge and use of the social network is voluntary.

But the plaintiff’s lawyer Cottineau described Facebook’s clause as “abusive.” “Following your logic,” he said, “none of France’s 22 million Facebook users will ever be able to go to a French court should a disagreement occur.”

The case has been unraveling since 2011. According to Ouest France, Pau’s civil court ruled in 2012 that it had jurisdiction over the matter. Paris’s civil court is expected to give its decision on March 5, 2015.

Like several social media sites, Facebook has a strict no-nudity policy, one which is currently hotly contested by the likes of Lena Dunham and Miley Cyrus with the hashtag #Freethenipple.

Originally commissioned by an Ottoman diplomat, Khalil Bey, and once owned by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, Courbet’s painting appears as controversial as it was a century and a half ago. In February of last year, a group of philatelists was denied the request to have it printed on postal stamps.

More recently, the Musée d’Orsay, which houses the painting, filed a sexual exhibitionism complaint against performance artist Deborah de Robertis after she sat down in front of the iconic artwork, and recreated it in the flesh.

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2 thoughts on “GUSTAVE COURBET’S L’Origine du Monde Sparks Facebook Legal Battle

  1. Please do not mix up the controversy around Gustave Courbet’s iconic painting being posted on FB and the one around the performance of Deborah de Robertis. These are two different topics; obviously they have about 140 years between them! Put arguments back into context. As a reminder, Gustave Courbet was the leader of the Realist Movement. If one does not know Art History, then one has no right to censure one of its iconic examples.

    1. The only reason I approved your comment is so that I could reply to it, for you DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to come to a private website and drop your obviously uneducated opinions wherever you like. This article was published on Linkedin, go spew your venom there.

      This website is for people who want to learn the truth, not the crud that has been taught in art history classes all over the world with opinions that are inaccurate. Last tart history class I was in Jansen’s book weighed 8.2 lbs and all Pearson does is dum out the same crud and keep their little cash cow monopoly. It is not an open forum where trolls like you get to dump your supposed “intelligentsia” opinions-which are like body parts-everyone has one. AS for DE Robertis as far as I am concerned there is no such thing as performance art-it’s called acting. And sitting there brain ghee vagina to the world, for which she was arrested is not performance anything. It’s just porn and crass. Please do NOT come back here again, you do not add anything that will educate people properly and if you do come back your comments will be trashed. Have a nice life

      All the best,


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