How to contract with Influencers in France

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Time to read: 18 min

Given the significance of the influencer market (over €21 billion in 2023), which now encompasses all sectors, and with a view for transparency and consumer protection, France, with the law of June 9, 2023, proposed the world’s first regulation governing the activities of influencers, with the objective of defining and regulating influencer activities on social media platforms.

However, influencers are subject to multiple obligations stemming from various sources, necessitating the utmost vigilance, both in drafting influence agreements (between influencers and agencies or between influencers and advertisers) and in the behaviour they must adopt on social media or online platforms. This vigilance is particularly heightened as existing regulations do not cover the core of influencers’ activities, especially their status and remuneration, which remain subject to legal ambiguity, posing risks to advertisers as regulatory authorities’ scrutiny intensifies.


Key points to remember 

  • Influencers’ activity is subject to numerous regulations, including the law of June 9, 2023.
  • This law not only regulates the drafting of influence contracts but also the influencer’s behaviour to ensure greater transparency for consumers.
  • Every influencer whose audience includes French users is affected by the provisions of the law of June 9, 2023, even if they are not physically present in French territory.
  • Both the law of June 9, 2023, and the “Digital Services Act,” as well as the proposed law on “fast fashion,” foresee increasing accountability for various actors in the commercial influence sector, particularly influencers and online platforms.
  • Despite a plethora of regulations, the status and remuneration of influencers remain unaddressed issues that require special attention from advertisers engaging with influencers.


The law of June 9, 2023, regulating influencer activity  

The definition of influencer professions

The law of June 9, 2023, provides two essential definitions for influencer activities:

  • Influencers are defined as ‘natural or legal persons who, for consideration, mobilize their notoriety with their audience to communicate to the public, electronically, content aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or any cause, engaging in commercial influence activities electronically.’
  • The activity of an influencer agent is defined as ‘that which consists of representing, for consideration,’ the influencer or a possible agent ‘with the aim of promoting, for consideration, goods, services, or any cause‘ (article 7) The influencer agent must take ‘necessary measures to ensure the defense of the interests of the persons they represent, to avoid situations of conflict of interest, and to ensure the compliance of their activity‘ with the law of June 9, 2023.


The obligations imposed on commercial messages created by the influencer

The law sets forth obligations that influencers must adhere to regarding their publications: 

  • Mandatory particulars: When creating content, this law imposes an obligation on influencers to provide information to consumers, aiming for transparency towards their audience. Thus, influencers are required to clearly, legibly, and identifiably indicate on the influencer’s image or video, regardless of its format and throughout the entire viewing duration (according to modalities to be defined by decree):

    – The mention “advertisement” or “commercial collaboration.” Violating this obligation constitutes deceptive commercial practice punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of €300,000 (Article 5 of the law of June 9, 2023).
    – The mention of “altered images” (modification by image processing methods aimed at refining or thickening the silhouette or modifying the appearance of the face) or “virtual images” (images created by artificial intelligence). Failure to do so may result in a one-year prison sentence and a fine of €4,500 (Article 5 of the law of June 9, 2023).

  • Prohibited or regulated promotions: This law reminds certain prohibitions, subject to criminal and administrative sanctions, stemming from French law on the direct or indirect promotion of certain categories of products and services, under penalty of criminal or administrative sanctions. This includes the promotion of products and services related to:

    – health: surgery, aesthetic medicine, therapeutic prescriptions, and nicotine products;
    – non-domestic animals, unless it concerns an establishment authorized to hold them;
    – financial: contracts, financial products, and services;
    – sports-related: subscriptions to sports advice or predictions;
    – crypto assets: if not from registered actors or have not received approval from the AMF;
    – gambling: their promotion prohibited for those under 18 years old and regulated by law;
    – professional training: their promotion is not prohibited but regulated.


The accountability of influencer behaviour

The law also holds influencers accountable from the contracting of their relationships and when they act as sellers:

  • Regulation of commercial influence agreements: This law imposes, subject to nullity, from a certain threshold of influencer remuneration (defined by decree), the formalization in writing of the agreement between the advertiser and the influencer, but also, if applicable, between the influencer’s agent, and the mandatory stipulation of certain clauses (remuneration, mission description, etc.).
  • Influencer responsibility as a cyber seller: Influencers engaging in drop shipping (selling products without handling their delivery, done by the supplier) must provide the buyer with all information in French as required by Article L. 221-5 of the Consumer Code about the product, such as its availability and legality (i.e., guarantee that the product is not counterfeit), applicable product warranty, and supplier identity. Additionally, influencers must ensure the proper delivery and receipt of products and, in case of default, compensate the buyer. Influencers are also logically subject to obligations regarding deceptive commercial practices (for more information, the DGCCRF website explain the dropshipping).


The accountability of other actors in the commercial influence ecosystem


Joint and several liability is set by law, for the advertiser, influencer, or influencer’s agent for damages caused to third parties in the execution of the commercial influence contract, allowing the victim of the damage to act against the most solvent party.

Furthermore, the law introduces accountability for online platforms by partially incorporating the European Regulation 2022/2065 on digital services (known as the “DSA“) of October 19, 2022.


French regulation and international influencers


Influencers established outside the European Union (including also Switzerland and the EEA) who promote products or services to a French audience must obtain professional liability insurance from an insurer established within the EU. They must also designate a legal or natural person providing “a form of representation” (SIC) within the EU. This representative (whose regime is not very clear) is remunerated to represent the influencer before administrative and judicial authorities and to ensure the compliance of the influencer’s activity with law of June 9, 2023.

Furthermore, according to law of June 9, 2023, when the contract binding the influencer (or their agency) aims to implement a commercial influence activity electronically “targeting in particular an audience established in French territory” (SIC), this contract should be exclusively subject to French law (including the Consumer Code, the Intellectual Property Code, and the law of June 9, 2023). According to this law, the absence of such a stipulation would be sanctioned by the nullity of the contract. Law of June 9, 2023, seems to be established as an overriding mandatory law capable of setting aside the choice of a foreign law.

However, the legitimacy (what about compliance with the definition of overriding mandatory rules established by Regulation Rome I?) and effectiveness (what if the contract specifies a foreign law and a foreign jurisdiction?) of such a legal provision can be questioned, notably due to its vague and general wording. In fact, it should be the activity deployed by the “foreign” influencer to their community in France that should be apprehended by French overriding mandatory rules, rather than the content of the agreement concluded with the advertiser (which itself could also be foreign, by the way).


The other regulations governing the activity of influencers


The European regulations

The DSA further holds influencers accountable because, in addition to the reporting mechanism imposed on platforms to report illicit content (thus identifying a failing influencer), platforms must ensure (and will therefore shift this responsibility to the influencer) the identification of commercial communications and specific transparency obligations towards consumers.

The «soft law»

As early as 2015, the Advertising Regulatory Authority (“ARPP”) issued recommendations on best practices for digital advertising. Similarly, in March 2023, the French Ministry of Economy published a “code of conduct” for influencers and content creators. In 2023, the European Commission launched a legal information platform for influencers. Although non-binding, these rules, in addition to existing regulations, serve as guidelines for both influencers and content creators, as well as for judicial and administrative authorities.


The special status of child influencers

The law of October 19, 2020, aimed at regulating the commercial exploitation of children’s images on online platforms, notably opens up the possibility for child influencers to be recognized as salaried workers. However, this law only targeted video-sharing platforms. Article 2 of the law of June 9, 2023, extended the provisions regarding child influencer labor introduced by the 2020 law to all online platforms. Finally, a recent law aimed at ensuring respect for the image rights of children was published on February 19, 2024, introducing a principle of joint and several responsibility of both parents in protecting the minor’s image rights.


The status and remuneration of influencers: uncertainty persists


Despite the diversity of regulations applicable to influencers, none address their status and remuneration.

The status of the influencer

In the absence of regulations governing the status of influencers, a legal ambiguity persists regarding whether the influencer should be considered an independent contractor, an employee (as is partly the case for models or artists), or even as a brand representative (i.e. commercial agent), depending on the missions contractually entrusted to the influencer.

The nature of the contract and the applicable social security regime stem from the missions assigned to the influencer:

  • In the case of an employment contract, the influencer will fall under the general regime for employees and assimilated persons, based on Articles L. 311-2 or 311-3 of the French Social Security Code.
  • In the case of a service contract, the influencer will fall under the regime for self-employed workers.


The existence of a relationship of subordination between the advertiser and the influencer typically determines the qualification of an employment contract. Subordination is generally characterized when the employer gives orders and directives, has the power to control and sanction, and the influencer follows these directives. However, some activities are subject to a presumption of an employment contract; this is the case (at least in part) for artist contracts under Article L. 7121-3 of the French Labor Code and model contracts under Article L. 7123-2 of the French Labor Code.


The remuneration of the influencer

The influencer can be remunerated in cash (fixed or proportional) and/or in kind (for example: receiving a product from the brand, invitations to private or public events, coverage of travel expenses, etc.). The influencer’s remuneration must be specified in the influencer agreement and is directly impacted by the influencer’s status, as certain obligations (minimum wage, payment of social security contributions, etc.) apply in the case of an employment contract.

Furthermore, the remuneration (for the influencer’s services) must be distinguished from that of the transfer of their copyrights or image rights, which are subject to separate remuneration in exchange for the IP rights transferred.


The influencers… in the spotlight

The law of June 9, 2023, grants the French authority (i.e. the Consumer Affairs, Competition and Fraud Prevention Agency, “DGCCRF”) new injunction powers (with reinforced penalties). This comes in addition to the recent creation of a “commercial influence squad“, within the DGCCRF, tasked with monitoring social networks, and responding to reports received through Signal Conso. The law provides for fines and the possibility of blocking content.

As early as August 2023, the DGCCRF issued warnings to several influencers to comply with the new regulations on commercial influence and imposed on them the obligation to publicly disclose their conviction for non-compliance with the new provisions regarding transparency to consumers on their own social networks, a heavy penalty for actors whose activity relies on their popularity (DGCCRF investigation on the commercial practices of influencers).

On February 14, 2024, the European Commission and the national consumer protection authorities of 22 EU member states, Norway, and Iceland published the results of an analysis conducted on 570 influencers (the so-called “clean-up operation” of 2023 on influencers): only one in five influencers consistently presented their commercial content as advertising. 

In response to environmental, ethical, and quality concerns related to “fast fashion,” a draft law aiming to ban advertising for fast fashion brands, including advertising done by influencers (Proposal for a law aiming to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry), was adopted by the National Assembly on first reading on March 14, 2024.

Lastly, the law of June 9, 2023, has been criticized by the European Commission, which considers that the law would contravene certain principles provided by EU law, notably the principle of “country of origin,” according to which the company providing a service in other EU countries is exclusively subject to the law of its country of establishment (principle initially provided for by the E-commerce Directive of June 8, 2000, and included in the DSA). Some of its provisions, particularly those concerning the application of French law to foreign influencers, could therefore be subject to forthcoming – and welcome – modifications.

Christophe Hery
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