Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Law on the Freedom of the Press of 29 July 1881 (Loi sur la liberté de la presse du 29 juillet 1881), often called the Press Law of 1881, is a law that defines the freedoms and responsibilities of the media and publishers in France. It provides a legal framework for publications and regulates the display of advertisements on public roads. Although it has been amended several times since its enactment, it remains in force to the present day.

It is often regarded as the foundational legal statement on freedom of the press and freedom of speech in France, inspired by Article 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 26 August 1789. At the same time, the law imposes legal obligations on publishers and criminalises certain specific behaviours (called "press offences"), particularly concerning defamation.

A first restriction on the law of 1881 happened one year later in the law of August 2 1882 and the crime of "outrage aux bonnes mœurs par voie de presse, d'affiche ou d'écrit de toute nature." This law was made in order to curb the promulgation of erotic and pornographic literature signalled by the police.

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