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Friday, July 05, 2019

French defamation (Corrected)

Three groups of Michael Jackson fans (sorry, writing in a train station) have sued the men featured in Leaving Neverland accusing Jackson of sexual assault. The lawsuit was filed in France, which, the article repeats, recognizes defamation of a dead person.

But the story does not discuss what to me should be the real issue about French law: How have fan groups suffered a compensable injury, or using unfortunate U.S. terminology, how do fan groups have standing? Even if a dead person can be defamed under French law, how is a group of people who like his music (perhaps too much) injured by that?

Anyone familiar with French tort law?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on July 5, 2019 at 09:22 AM in Howard Wasserman | Permalink

Comments

A United States "fan group" would be able to establish standing for a suit agaisnt the defendants by alleging that the libellous statements cost it money: Attacks on Michael Jackson lead to fewer people paying dues to the group, and/or buying t-shirts, CD's, books about Jackson, and similar things marketed by the fan group. It wouldn't be a libel case. If the defendants were, for example, marketing their own books about Jackson, they might have an unfair trade practices claim (with a potential first amendment defense).

Posted by: arthur | Jul 5, 2019 12:40:17 PM

A United States "fan group" would be able to establish standing for a suit agaisnt the defendants by alleging that the libellous statements cost it money: Attacks on Michael Jackson lead to fewer people paying dues to the group, and/or buying t-shirts, CD's, books about Jackson, and similar things marketed by the fan group. It wouldn't be a libel case. If the defendants were, for example, marketing their own books about Jackson, they might have an unfair trade practices claim (with a potential first amendment defense).

Posted by: arthur | Jul 5, 2019 12:40:16 PM

The image of "three groups of Michael Jackson" is, frankly, a bit terrifying.

Posted by: Marty Lederman | Jul 5, 2019 12:37:24 PM

It is obvious how they have been harmed: guilt by association. The meaningful question is whether this is the kind of harm or the degree of harm the court should recognize. My own instincts, without having giving it much thought, is yes and no. Yes because associative guilt seems something akin to false light but no because being a fan is too far out on the chain of causation to matter.

Posted by: James | Jul 5, 2019 10:55:02 AM

Meanwhile,one can reach the statement of their french lawyer( written in English) here:

http://www.emmanuelludot.fr/images/affaires/mj/mj_suit-01.pdf

I shall check further ....

Posted by: El roam | Jul 5, 2019 10:18:12 AM

Interesting. One may assume, that maybe, the online publication,has granted them standing. Suppose that an American would suffer labeling or defamation in France, through online use or dissemination (Internet). Part( at least ) of the offense, has reached him and his entourage, reached him to the US of course. So, he may have standing in France for his injury. But, the issue more problematic, is, how his fans, could represent him or suing for him or in his name (even as dead, it is rather typically, up to his living family members or relatives).

But I shall check it......

Thanks

Posted by: El roam | Jul 5, 2019 9:52:27 AM

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