ALIBABA liable for its website’s content

In a decision rendered within summary proceedings on November 21st, 2017, the President of the High Court of Justice of Paris has ruled that the ALIBABA entities cannot benefit from the limited liability granted to internet service providers (hosts) by the EC Directive 2000/31 but must be considered as editors, thus liable for the content posted on the platform, in consideration of its active role in the managing of such platform.

According to the Court, such active role of ALIBABA on the content of the website results in particular from the “premium” subscriptions offered to “big international groups” by ALIBABA (the income from which represents 27% of the global income of the ALIBABA group) as these subscriptions lead ALIBABA to favor certain companies, in particular through the ranking of offers and the possibility for the subscribers to create personalized shops. As a consequence, ALIBABA is influencing the content of the virtual shops and therefore has the status of an editor.

The Court also underlined the fact that ALIBABA states that it has enacted a policy to protect IP rights by which it reserves the right to withdraw infringing products, which implies that it exercises a prior control on the content of the offers published on its platform.

As a consequence of the above, the Court states that ALIBABA is held to monitor the licit nature of the information posted on all of the website.

Please find the full analysis of Gaëlle Bloret-Pucci, partner, and Georgina van der Heijden, lawyer, by clicking here.