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Nude Painting Banned On Facebook Could Trigger Avalanche Of Legal Challenges For Social Media

PARIS, FRANCE (CBS SF) -- The painting is good enough for the famed Musee d'Orsay, but it's too risqué for Facebook, and now after banning a photo of a nude painting of a woman's crotch, the American company--whose terms of service declare users must sue in Northern California--may still face the first of potentially many lawsuits over how it does business overseas.

It all began four years ago when a French teacher thought he'd post a photo of "L'Origine du Monde" but after moderators nixed the portrayal of her "naughty bits" he sued in French court, and the court is agreeing to hear the case this spring.

Just the idea of a French court claiming it has jurisdiction over what an American social media firm does on the Internet could open the door to huge legal challenges.


SEE THE CONTROVERSIAL PAINTING: Warning: Not Safe for American Workplaces, And Maybe Not Safe For French Workplaces Too

Facebook's Terms of Service, section 16 states, "We strive to create a global community with consistent standards for everyone, but we also strive to respect local laws. The following provisions apply to users and non-users who interact with Facebook outside the United States:..."

Granted, in Facebook's defense, the photo of the painting is a very graphic and very realistic painting of a woman's vulva and nude torso. Nothing abstract or impressionist about it.

Moderators, of course, are the ones reporting the issue, and forwarding it to Facebook for review.

Regardless of how tasteful or tasteless or just plain pornographic the painting is, the legal challenge is historic and come May, Facebook will get its day in court, in France, despite Facebook's explicit statement that, "You will resolve any claim, cause of action or dispute (claim) you have with us arising out of or relating to this Statement or Facebook exclusively in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California or a state court located in San Mateo County, and you agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of such courts for the purpose of litigating all such claims. The laws of the State of California will govern this Statement, as well as any claim that might arise between you and us, without regard to conflict of law provisions."

The problem is, France didn't agree to those terms of service.



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