Abuses of freedom of expression, that is to say, writings of an offensive or defamatory nature published in magazines, books or websites, social networks are governed by a special text: the 29 of July 1881 Law. By this text, the legislator wanted to promote freedom of expression to the detriment of the persons implicated in writings. The victim of an infringement of his honor or consideration must comply with the very particular regime of this law to seek redress in the courts.
It will have to act quickly, since the prescription in the press is only three months. This period runs from the first act of publication, which is of little importance for the time it lasts. Secondly, the person initiating the proceedings is obliged to determine the nature of the infringement. This can be tricky for the layman. According to the law, a defamation is “Any allegation or imputation of a fact that infringes the honor or consideration of the person …” while an insult is “Any outrageous expression, terms of contempt or invective which does not contain the imputation of any fact … “. In practice, the boundary between the two offenses is often very thin … and an error will render the proceedings null and void.
Any victim of a press offense will therefore have the greatest interest in consulting a specialist as soon as possible to ascertain whether the proposed action falls within the scope of press law and not of the common law if it is not prescription and whether the infringement has been correctly identified.
Writers of all kinds will also have an interest in referring to a specialist in press and publishing law before publishing their writings. It will be in their interest to minimize the risk of prosecution on the basis of the aforementioned infringements of the press or on the issue of counterfeiting. It is also important to ensure that you understand, for example, the clauses of the publishing contract proposed by the publisher, including the extent of the assignment of copyright. Indeed, in its advisory role, the lawyer is competent to reread contracts and enlighten his client on the meaning of the technical clauses before the latter engages. Especially since the publishing contract is a special contract whose regime is provided for by the French Code of Intellectual Property.