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Case 95-13694 , Cour de Cassation Chambre civile 1, 13 janvier 1998, Bulletin 1998 I N 14 p. 9

Facts: The plaintiff X was a comedian who was portrayed and depicted with a caricatured image on "pins" by the defendant, a company which produced and distributed the pins. The plaintiff brought an action to restrain the defendant from marketing some "pins" depicting his caricatured image. 

Complaint: the plaintiff complained of a violation of his right to privacy guaranteed by Article 9 of the Civil Code. The defendant argued he was entitled to freedom of speech, parody and caricature. The Colmar Court of Appeal held that the right to parody and caricature had to be allowed whatever basis or material used. Therefore, pins had to be considered as a means of parody. That also meant right to market and to sell them. The Plaintiff appealed this decision to the Cour de Cassation.

Holding: the Cour de Cassation overruled the judgment below and found a violation of article 9 of the Civil Code.

Reasoning: article 9 of the French Civil Code guaranteed that any individual had a right to oppose the reproduction of his own image. Freedom of expression allowed others to criticize, as in using parody and caricature. Such acts were lawful so long as they were done "according to the laws of the art". In those circumstances, marketing pins depicting someone's face was not justified and constituted a breach of article 9.

 

 

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