Thing 000768 (Passion-Cinéma)

On 28 February, 1969, the Cinémathèque Française, founded in 1936, was set-up in the building of the Palais de Chaillot based on an agreement with the French state, owner of the building. In 1972 Henri Langlois, founder and general secretary of the Cinémathèque Française, conceived and organized a permanent exhibition at the Palais de Chaillot presenting the history of cinema, under the name Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois. The museum’s collection was developed from the private collection of Henri Langlois, which he donated to the Cinémathèque Française, and the collection of the Cinémathèque Française itself. As the archivist of the Cinémathèque Française Langlois not only kept films, but also acquired cameras, projection machines, sets, costumes, programmes, etc. The collection exhibited by Langlois at the Palais de Chaillot was set up over 3,000 square metres, in 19 different rooms and in 36 parts.

In 1984 the French State proposed to create Palais des Arts de l’Image at the Palais de Tokyo which included among others also the Cinémathèque Française, together with the exhibition of the permanent collection. In 1994 the realization of this project was launched and the French State ended the agreement for the use of the Palais de Chaillot rooms with the Cinémathèque Française. In 1995 the Cinémathèque Française announced the closure of the museum until its relocation to the Palais de Tokyo. Some visitors were worried that the exhibition would get altered due to the relocation and initiated a museum protection group called Comité de Défense du Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois. On 17 May, 1995, the group demanded an inventory of the museum drawn up under the presence of a court-ordered expert. On 3 July, 1995, the Association Henri Langlois joined this action by Comité de Défense du Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois. On 10 July 1995, in order to protect the museum, the Comité claimed neglect of the heirs for the damage of Henri Langloi’s museum through a written legal document addressed to the Cinémathèque Française. The Comité summonsed the Cinémathèque Française before the court Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris in order to have the arrangement of the exhibition recognized as a work of art and to have it re-installed by legal order. The Comité objected to any transformation and any change of the permanent exhibition of the museum. The Cinémathèque Française responded that the move implied that the permanent exhibition Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois would be modified and stated that the claims of the Commité and the Association were not valid, because these bodies cannot exercise rights held by the heirs of Henri Langlois. On 2 October, 1996, the heirs of Henri Langlois, his nephews Jean-Louis and Hugues Langlois, joined the legal action and initial claim over the qualification of the museum as a work of art. The heirs tried to obtain protection of the droit d’ auteur [copyright] and its related moral rights against any infringement of the integrity of the permanent exhibition Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois. They declared to be the sole holders of the moral rights over the exhibition. The Cinémathèque Française contested these arguments and declared that it was not opposed to mediation with the heirs concerning the move of the exhibition.

On 5 March, 1997, the court case Le Comité de Défense du Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois et autres c. La Cinémathèque Française was heard at Tribunal de grande instance in Paris. Judge Gomez held that:

Whereas without disregarding the role of Henri Langlois in the creation and development of the Museum, which in its opinion rightly bears his name, the Cinémathèque Française on the other hand contests the analysis that the Langlois heirs are making of the exhibition because its specific purpose cannot be reconciled with the intangible character of the work, in regards to the modern and evolving conceptions of museology which prohibit any individual appropriation;

Whereas the permanent exhibition of objects in specific but not exclusive spaces, and in accordance with a scenography guided by a personal vision of the history of cinema is not sufficient to augment a museum of cinema as a work of the mind benefiting from legal protection, both because of its character, which destines it to show objects brought together the collection of which is necessarily going to evolve, and because of its purpose, which compels it resolutely to undertake adaptations and modifications entailed, in a spirit of permanence, by the material and museological necessities;

Whereas consequently this work cannot give rise to droit d’ auteur [copyright];

But whereas however the Cinémathèque Française recognizes “the legitimate concern of the heirs of Henri Langlois to protect the fundamental message of its author, in regards to the technical and administrative constraints imposed by this project”, and declares to be prepared to take this into consideration within the framework of mediation which could enable the transfer of the museum and its adaptation in compliance with the modern conceptions of museology;

For these reasons: the court, [...] consequently, declares [...] Comité de Défense du Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois and the Association Henri Langlois inadmissible in their claims in that they are separate from those presented by the Langlois heirs; And dismisses the Langlois heirs of their claims;

The court concluded that the Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois does not merit being considered as a work of art protected by droit d’auteur and its moral rights. Subsequently, both associations and the heirs of Henri Langlois appealed this decision. On 2 October, 1997, the court case L’ Association Henri Langlois et autre c. Cinémathèque Française was heard at the Paris Court of Appeal. Judge Colcombet held that:

Whereas pursuant to Article L.121-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code, the right to respect the work enjoyed by its author is attached to its person; this right is however transferable to his/her heirs; in this instance Jean-Louis and Hugues Langlois are undisputed holders of the capacity of heirs of Henri Langlois; the two appellant associations do not claim to benefit from particular provisions of the last will and testament conferring on them the exercising of the right to protect the work of Henri Langlois; these associations are consequently inadmissible in being recognized the capacity of holders of a moral right relating to the work of Henri Langlois, separate from that of the heirs;

Whereas [...] the claim of the two appellant associations becomes only admissible in relation to the action of the Langlois heirs, having the purpose of supporting them in their claim to have the exhibition on the history of cinema called Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois recognized as a work of the mind;

Whereas it is not disputed that the exhibition called Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois has Henri Langlois as its sole author, who had the idea and entirely assured its conception, as moreover is unambiguously testified by the report of the higher commission of historic monuments, which indicates that it is a “unique ensemble that summarizes the work of Henri Langlois”... which “takes place in some thirty parts entirely designed by Henri Langlois”; notably Henri Langlois not only selected the objects and projections composing this exhibition, but also imagined its presentation in an order and according an original scenography; in particular, as reported in several extracts of articles and publications on the Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois designed the exhibition as a travel through time recounting the history of cinema and set in a cinematographical way;

Whereas it is thus not a simple methodical presentation of elements relative to the history of cinema, but a resolutely personal creation, expressing both the imagination of Henri Langlois and his own conceptions of the history of cinema, and thus reflecting his personality; the original nature of this creation is accentuated by the fact that at the time of its completion there was no other museum presenting the history of cinema, and this one imagined by Henri Langlois served as a model and reference as emphasized in some of the aforementioned articles;

Whereas the legal status of the objects composing [the exhibition] matters little; the exhibition, called Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois, is an original creation of its author, calls upon the intellectual qualities and senses of its visitors and indisputably constitutes an intellectual work, whose recognition does not require a collective or intangible character; this quality does not indeed prevent the adaptations to the constraints, notably museological, that may prove necessary under the conditions authorized by the legal protection related thereto; consequently the judgment handed down must be overturned on this point;

Whereas we took act that Jean-Louis and Hugues Langlois admitted in that they authorize the translation of the exhibition entitled Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois to the Palais du Tokyo, under the condition that the spirit is not altered;

For these reasons, [...] Rules that the exhibition called Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois constitutes an work of the mind, benefiting from legal protection; Admits the Langlois heirs in that they authorise the transfer of the exhibition entitled Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois to the Palais du Tokyo, providing the spirit is not altered;

The court of appeal reversed the previous decision and recognized droit d’auteur [copyright] and the related moral rights for the arrangement of the exhibition made by Langlois. In the end the Cinémathèque Française relocated into a building on rue de Bercy in Paris with little space for the permanent collection. As a result of the legal decision, Cinémathèque Française conceived a very different permanent exhibition. Although the new permanent exhibition, entitled Passion Cinéma, contains many of the same items of the collection as the Musée du Cinema Henri Langlois, the new arrangement recounts the history of the three principal donors of the collection itself : Will Day, Henri Langlois and Jean Vivé.