Bepanted shovel-toting farmer wins privacy payout from France TV

Unwitting star of #Slipgate viral images awarded reduced damages, tempts Streisand effect


Updated A French farmer who was filmed setting about bird conservationists with a shovel while in his underpants has won damages from a TV company that filmed the incident for violating his privacy.

The set-to originally occurred back in 2015, when a French bird conservation group called the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO, or Bird Protection League in English) invited a group of journalists to accompany them as they investigated a farm in Audon in southwestern France for bird traps.

Bird trapping, in which songbirds are trapped using various techniques and later eaten, is mostly forbidden in France, but it is still practised in many regions either illegally or via legal exemptions issued for supposed small-scale trapping.

According to thelocal.fr, the group duly sneaked on to the farm and began removing what they claimed were illegal traps set for finches from an area planted with corn. They were then confronted by two men, including furious farmer Jean-Marc Dutouya, who appeared wearing just a blue T-shirt and a pair of blue striped underpants and wielding a long-handled shovel like a pike.

A fracas duly ensued between the bird enthusiasts and the farmers in which a number of LPO members alleged they were assaulted, Dutouya's octogenarian mother was reportedly shoved, and four vehicles had their tyres slashed.

For his part in the bepanted brouhaha, according to the Agence France-Presse, Dutouya was fined €400 in 2018 for violence with a weapon.

But footage of the scuffle shot by the journalists present went viral on the internet and Dutouya and his stripy pants became a sensation on Francophone Twitter, whose users referred to the incident using the hashtag #Slipgate (which translates to #Underpantsgate).

The livid Frenchman became the unwitting hero of countless memes in which his underwear-clad image – clipped from a photograph of the confrontation published by the Agence France-Presse agency – was superimposed onto unlikely surroundings, famous works of art and film scenes. One Twitter wag created an image in which the shovel was replaced by a lightsaber.

As a result of his unwanted fame, Dutouya sued national broadcaster France Télévisions – which had been among the journalists present and had shot video footage of the incompletely clothed contretemps – for breach of privacy and demanded damages of €200,000 for his bruised feelings, if not his chilly legs.

Yesterday (15 September) a court in the nearby town of Dax adjudicated in his favour, ordering France Télévisions to pay his legal costs and blur his image in their footage, but limiting his damages to only €10,000.

Following the victory, Dutouya's lawyer Frederic Dutin reacted with a measure of Gallic philosophy: "Can a man who is at home in his garden be thrown to the wolves in any old fashion? The courts say no."

The Register asked M.Dutin for further comment and he politely responded by sending us a copy of the judgment transcript, which can be read here [PDF] by those with suitably adept French.

While this could be considered purely metaphorical, wild wolves began recolonising France in the 1980s, having crossed from Northern Italy into South East France. There is evidence that they are now present in most of the south of the country, including the Landes department of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region where Audon is situated.

The population is very small and the animals are very wary of humans, however, so if Dutouya were to be thrown to the wolves as his lawyer suggested, he would have to be thrown very carefully, as bird enthusiasts may wish to take note. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Research finds consumer-grade IoT devices showing up... on corporate networks

    Considering the slack security of such kit, it's a perfect storm

    Increasing numbers of "non-business" Internet of Things devices are showing up inside corporate networks, Palo Alto Networks has warned, saying that smart lightbulbs and internet-connected pet feeders may not feature in organisations' threat models.

    According to Greg Day, VP and CSO EMEA of the US-based enterprise networking firm: "When you consider that the security controls in consumer IoT devices are minimal, so as not to increase the price, the lack of visibility coupled with increased remote working could lead to serious cybersecurity incidents."

    The company surveyed 1,900 IT decision-makers across 18 countries including the UK, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, finding that just over three quarters (78 per cent) of them reported an increase in non-business IoT devices connected to their org's networks.

    Continue reading
  • Huawei appears to have quenched its thirst for power in favour of more efficient 5G

    Never mind the performance, man, think of the planet

    MBB Forum 2021 The "G" in 5G stands for Green, if the hours of keynotes at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai are to be believed.

    Run by Huawei, the forum was a mixture of in-person event and talking heads over occasionally grainy video and kicked off with an admission by Ken Hu, rotating chairman of the Shenzhen-based electronics giant, that the adoption of 5G – with its promise of faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency – was still quite low for some applications.

    Despite the dream five years ago, that the tech would link up everything, "we have not connected all things," Hu said.

    Continue reading
  • What is self-learning AI and how does it tackle ransomware?

    Darktrace: Why you need defence that operates at machine speed

    Sponsored There used to be two certainties in life - death and taxes - but thanks to online crooks around the world, there's a third: ransomware. This attack mechanism continues to gain traction because of its phenomenal success. Despite admonishments from governments, victims continue to pay up using low-friction cryptocurrency channels, emboldening criminal groups even further.

    Darktrace, the AI-powered security company that went public this spring, aims to stop the spread of ransomware by preventing its customers from becoming victims at all. To do that, they need a defence mechanism that operates at machine speed, explains its director of threat hunting Max Heinemeyer.

    According to Darktrace's 2021 Ransomware Threat Report [PDF], ransomware attacks are on the rise. It warns that businesses will experience these attacks every 11 seconds in 2021, up from 40 seconds in 2016.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021