(Oct. 30, 2020) On October 19, 2020, French president Emmanuel Macron promulgated a new law on the commercial use of images of children under 16 years old on online platforms. This law, which was adopted by the Senate on June 25, 2020, and adopted unanimously by the National Assembly on October 6, 2020, aims to provide a legal framework for the activities of “influencer” children on Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, and other online platforms. This new legal framework fills an important void, as the work of child influencers was largely unregulated and their work could easily be exploited by their parents. Under this new legislation, which will come into force on April 20, 2021, child influencers will be protected by the French Labor Code in a manner similar to child models or child actors.
Prior government authorization will now be necessary before a child can engage in online video activities that can be considered as being within a labor relation.
The new rules will apply to situations where the child is in a labor relation. Such a labor relation exists if, for example, the child receives orders or directions from the video producer. The new legislation will require that parents seek prior government authorization before their child can engage in online activities that amount to a labor relation. As part of the authorization process, the child’s parents will receive information on the rights of their child and on the potential consequences of the release of images of their child on the internet.
The new rules will also apply to what the National Assembly’s committee report on the bill called a “grey zone,” where the child is not in a labor relation, but nevertheless spends a significant amount of time making videos or derives a significant level of income from them. Beyond certain thresholds regarding the number of videos produced, the cumulative length of these videos, or the level of income generated by those videos, the child’s parents will need to submit a declaration to the government authorities. On submitting this declaration, the parents will also receive information on the rights of their child and on the potential consequences of the release of images of their child on the internet. The thresholds of time and income that will trigger this obligation to make a declaration will be defined by government decree in the near future.
Perhaps most importantly, child influencers will see their income protected under this new law. Specifically, only part of the child’s income will be paid to the parents, while the balance will have to be placed in a special savings account that the child will be able to access when he or she reaches adulthood or legal emancipation. Additionally, the new law explicitly allows minors to assert their right to be forgotten. Video platforms will be required to remove the child’s videos upon his or her direct request, even without the parents’ consent.