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French court confirms sentence for Picasso electrician over hoarded art
The ducks on a smallholding in south-west France will live to quack another day.
In another symbolic story of the disharmony between town and country folk, a French court has ruled that the noise from the flock kept by a retired farmer does not warrant them being silenced permanently.
“The ducks have won,” the birds’ delighted owner, Dominique Douthe, declared after the hearing on Tuesday. “I’m very happy because I didn’t want to slaughter them.”
However, the court did order a sound test to establish whether the quacking from the flock is “abnormal”.
Douthe’s neighbours, who moved from the city to Soustons around 430 miles south-west of Paris in the foothills of the Pyrenees in June 2018, had complained that the racket from the 60 ducks and geese kept in the next-door garden was making their life a misery.
They could not enjoy their garden or sleep with their windows open and they wanted “immediate steps” to reduce the noise and €5,200 (£4,460) in damages.
The court in the town of Dax decided the birds should not be destroyed but agreed an expert acoustic assessment should be carried out to determine if their noise was abnormal and whether it constituted a breach of the peace.
“It’s a great relief for Madame Douthe who was very upset by this process. The ducks will live and she can continue going about her business as she wishes, which is excellent news,” said her lawyer, Philippe Lalanne.
However, the flock’s reprieve is likely to be temporary. Douthe told reporters she had been raising ducks and geese to make confit for more than 30 years.
“They’ll still end up as confit but it’ll be me who kills them and nobody else,” she said outside the court.
The legal ruling came two months after Maurice the rooster was allowed to carry on crowing. Maurice from the Île d’Oléron in western France, became the country’s most famous cock and a cause célèbre after neighbours lost a two-year legal battle to shut him up after insisting his dawn chorus disturbed their sleep.
In the Dordogne, a retired couple are at the centre of an ongoing seven-year legal row over the croaking of frogs in their garden pond. The couple originally won their case in 2014 but lost on appeal two years later when they were ordered to fill in the pond. The frogs were then given a stay of execution after it was discovered there were four protected species among them. Earlier this month, the case was referred to the Bordeaux appeal court for a final judgment.
In Le Beausset in the Var, Provence, a mayor has refused to kill the local cicadas after tourists complained they made too much noise.
Gilmour heard the four-note jingle for France’s national railway operator SNCF in Aix-en-Provence in 2013 and was charmed. “It makes me want to sing and dance,” he told Le Parisien in 2015.
Gilmour approached composer Michaël Boumendil to ask if he could use the music in a song – a request Boumendil thought was a prank at first. The pair reached an agreement and were billed as co-writers of Gilmour’s 2015 single, Rattle That Lock, receiving approval from SNCF.
A year later, however, Boumendil took Gilmour to court, arguing that he hadn’t used the notes from the jingle as planned, but the recording that SNCF plays in stations. Boumendil claimed the contract permitted Gilmour to replay the notes, not to interpolate the exact recording. He sought €450,000 in damages.
In May 2018, a court rejected Boumendil’s claims, saying that he was too slow to quibble the contract, and ordered him to cover Gilmour’s legal fees.
Now, Boumendil has appealed the judgment.
The Guardian has contacted representatives for Gilmour and Boumendil for comment.