One of the striking features of French copyright law is the protection it affords to authors in their contractual dealings with would-be licensees and assignees.
One of the key statutory provisions that contributes to this high level of protection is Section L.131-2 of the Intellectual Property Code (IPC), which until recently provided as follows:
"Contracts for public performance, publishing contracts, and audio-visual production contracts defined in this Section shall be in writing, as shall be free authorizations to publicly perform.
This provision sets out a rule whereby certain named contracts (viz., public performance, publishing and audio-visual production contracts) must be in writing. (To this list must also be added, pursuant to a different section of the Code, contracts for the acquisition of audio-visual adaptation rights of a literary work).
Courts have long recognized that the requirement for a written instrument under Section L.131-2 IPC is merely for evidentiary purposes (ad probationem ) and not for the contract's validity (ad validitatem).
In all other cases, the ordinary rules of evidence under the Civil Code apply. However, it should be noted that even in such cases, a written instrument is highly recommended in light of other formal requirements (set out particularly in Section L.131-3 IPC).
The Act of 7 July 2016 added a new paragraph so that Section L.131-2 IPC now reads as follows: