Analysis: Are French privacy laws really strict?

France has a strict privacy law that makes it a criminal offence to publish information on a person's private life without the express permission of the person concerned.

In France they will tell you their laws are much tighter than they are in the UK - but it's only half of the truth.

While the French are sniffy about the tabloid culture in Britain, many celebrity magazines have been publishing these kind of pictures for years. France is the home of one of the oldest celebrity magazines in the world - Paris Match.

But these days there are raunchier titles, like Closer, Public and Voici, who unashamedly indulge in the celebrity gossip. And they budget for the legal payouts which in this case are seemingly inevitable.

A few years ago Closer was sued for invasion of privacy by Jenifer Bartoli, a well-known pop singer who featured on Star Academy.

Image caption Chateau D'Aulet, where the royal couple were taking a private holiday

As part of its punishment half of the magazine's front cover was blanked white, with the facts of the judgement printed in black. But for editors the fine is worth the risk.

And no doubt this latest edition of Closer magazine will sell out, there will be a bigger print run, a legal tussle to follow - but the end result is a huge profit and for Closer some priceless publicity.

Closer's editor, Laurence Pieau, recently said that each month three out of every four covers wil feature stars from the US because it carries less risk.

"It is very hard here in France," he said. "The privacy law is very restrictive but our readers are interested in what people are doing, how they dress, how they do their make-up.

"They do not want to automatically trash them, but they like to know how they are living their lives. And that is what we like to show."

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