A French judge has found French newspaper Le Monde guilty of libel in a lawsuit filed by Detroit: Become Human developer Quantic Dream over the paper's reporting over alleged studio misconduct.
At first glance, this may seem to successfully rebuff against the many, many reports about alleged sexist and racist behavior that took place at the studio. However in a head-scratching move, the judge found that partner outlet Mediapart had not committed libel over its reporting on the same subject.
According to French union Solidaires Informatique, the distinction between the two cases has to do with Le Monde's refusal to name its anonymous sources during the lawsuit. This may have put the news outlet in legal jeopardy thanks to the standards for proving libel under French law.
Mediapart successfully defended its reporting practices in the lawsuit, and therefore Quantic Dream was unable to successfully declare its reporting to be libelous. Considering that Mediapart and Le Monde collaborated on producing their reports on Quantic Dream's alleged misconduct, it's difficult to see how one outlet's writing could be considered false, and the other true.
Quantic Dream's lawsuit produced some unusual events during the proceedings. At one point in the trial, Quantic Dream co-founder Guillaume de Fondaumière allegedly turned to the judge to confirm he was not under legal oath and asked out loud if he could lie in court before stating that Mediapart and Le Monde's reporting severely harmed Quantic Dream.
The French legal system has taken Quantic Dream and its former employees through some strange twists and turns since Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC published their reports in 2018. It initially fined Quantic Dream €7,000 ($7,753) for unfairly dismissing a former IT director, then overturned that fine earlier in 2021.