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Appeals court finds Quantic Dream in breach of security obligations over obscene material

A Paris appeals court confirmed that Quantic Dream was in breach of its security obligations by allowing a practice of sharing "questionable" photomontages.

Danielle Riendeau

October 6, 2023

2 Min Read
Detroit Become Human screen showing detective and crime scene

A Paris appeals court recently confirmed that Quantic Dream was in breach of its security obligations by allowing a practice of sharing "questionable" photomontages within the office, following a ruling in 2018, Quantic Dream's subsequent appeal, and a handful of related legal conflicts.

In this case, which sought to investigate Quantic Dream's handling of inappropriate material shared by employees, the court found the practice “manifestly inappropriate in a professional context,” according to a L'usine Digitale piece shared by Kotaku's Ethan Gach on X (formerly Twitter). The piece continued to say that the proliferation of inappropriate images carries “risks for employees” who could “legitimately be offended by these images" and argues that "it was up to the employer, who could not ignore them, to warn them."

However, the incident itself may not yet be settled. According to L'usine Digitale, the court only sided with the former employee opposite Quantic Dream in this legal conflict on the security obligation issue. The appeals court rejected requests that Quantic Dream face discriminatory harassment charges, and that the employee's dismissal be annulled, leading to the possibility of further appeals over those issues.

Allegations of toxicity follow Quantic Dream

The material at the center of these claims has been the subject of years-long litigation at the studio behind Detroit: Become Human and Heavy Rain. The original lawsuit was prompted by a 2017 report of a toxic workplace that alleged employees were subjected to "homophobic and sexist" images, including one infamous example where studio founder David Cage's face was superimposed on the body of a male stripper holding a power tool with a sex toy attached.

A cache of "600 photoshopped images, deemed homophobic and sexist," is mentioned in that report, apparently created by employees and shared around the office via email. The studio has been mired in litigation related to those images, including one ruling in 2018 that hit Quantic Dream with a $7,700 fine over the circulation of the offending material, which the studio has since appealed.

Following an initial ruling in that case, a former employee raised accusations of wrongful termination due to an inhospitable workplace culture based on a French law allowing individuals to take companies to court if they left due to considering themselves a victim of a company’s actions or culture. The court sided with the former employee at the time, prompting the Quantic Dream appeal at the center of this most recent ruling.

About the Author(s)

Danielle Riendeau

Editor-in-Chief, GameDeveloper.com

Danielle is the editor-in-chief of Game Developer, with previous editorial posts at Fanbyte, VICE, and Polygon. She’s also a lecturer in game design at the Berklee College of Music, and a hobbyist game developer in her spare time.

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