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Johnny Halliday v Soc. Hachette Filipachi, Cour de Cassation, No. 979 P, May 30, 2000, La Semaine Juridique Édition Générale 2001, p. 937 No. 10524

Facts: the plaintiff, Johnny Halliday, was a French national and famous singer in France. After he went to Las Vegas to give a concert, the defendant magazine "Ici Paris" published a defamatory article on the plaintiff criticizing his financial situation and exposing all the debts he had. The article also stated that Mr. Halliday would never be able to reimburse his debts and criticized the lifestyle of the plaintiff. The article published photographs of the singer as illustration of the statements on his lifestyle.

Complaint: the plaintiff claimed that the defendant violated his right to privacy by making public his financial status and reproducing his photographs. The defendant argued that it only exercised its right to freedom of speech and press.

Holding: the court in the first instance rejected the plaintiff's claims. The Court of appeal overruled this judgment and ruled in favor of the plaintiff. On appeal by the defendant, the Cour de cassation upheld the judgment below and held in favor of the plaintiff too.

Reasoning: as regards the photographs reproduced in the article, even if the plaintiff consented to their sales previously, the Court found a violation of article 9 of the Civil Code because they were not published for the "authorized purpose". The publication of the financial situation and the lifestyle of the singer was also a violation of the same article since they were quoted out of the authorized and relevant context. The infringement of the right to private life of the plaintiff overweighed the right to freedom of the press.

 

 

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