Over a series of decisions working their way up to the Supreme Court (and then back to appellate courts after remand), participants in this adventure have successfully challenged the legal characterization of their contract with the production company (a subsidiary of TF1). While ostensibly labelled a "rulebook for participants", the courts have agreed with the participants that their proper legal characterization is as employment contracts. This was once again re-affirmed by the Supreme Court in its recent April 24, 2013 ruling.
The piece of good news for TF1 lay in the Court's refusal to go along with participants' other argument to the effect that they were also performers within the meaning of intellectual property law. The Court held:
"...the court of appeal did not contradict itself in finding that the participants had no role to play nor any text to say, that all that was asked of them was that they be themselves and express their reactions to situations they encountered and that the artificial nature of these situations and the way they unfolded did not suffice to make them actors; having determined that their work involved no interpretation, the court correctly held that the status of performer did not apply to them."The reasoning brings to mind another ruling involving the well-known documentary "Etre et avoir" where it was similarly held that the fact that one was being asked to be oneself in the context of a documentary (no screenplay or script) precluded treating that person as a performer or actor.
Info re Koh-Lanta scandal here
Supreme Court Ruling of April 24, 2013 (L'île de la tentation): here
Supreme Court Ruling November 13, 2008 (Etre et avoir): here