French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made it very clear over recent years that he sits firmly in the pro-copyright protection and further internet regulation side of the debate, and with the panels addressing the e-G8 conference this week in Paris it seems he is trying to promote those claims.
For the Plenary IV debate on Intellectual Property and the Culture Economy in the Digital Age, on the official bill was: French Minister of Culture & Communication Frédéric Mitterrand; CEO of Universal Music France Pascal Nègre; Chairman of 20th Century Fox Jim Gianopulos; Chairman of Éditions Gallimard Antoine Gallimard; and Chairman & CEO of Bertelsmann Hartmut Ostrowski. Bruno Patino, Director-General, Digital & Strategy at France Télévisions was moderator, but EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow was added at the last minute as I think it became pretty obvious that all other panellists don’t exactly fulfil the “digital age” part of the title – all coming from old-media corporations.
The tone of the panel was set early with moderator Bruno Patino claiming that “everybody recognises the principle of protecting copyright”, and going further by stating “if you protect copyright you protect artistic creation…if you don’t do that…you get a drying up of artistic creation…ending up with the disappearance of artistic creation” – a claim which has yet to be backed with any study. The issues of creators being paid and protection of copyright and old media were conflated from the first few minutes, something John Perry Barlow took the panel to task.
He noted that he was “one of very few people in this room who actually makes his living personally by creating what these gentlemen are pleased to call “intellectual property” and that the whole e-G8 conference appeared to be about “imposing the standards of some business practices and institutional power centers that come from another era on the future, whether they are actually productive of new ideas or not.”
If Sarkozy was serious about the e-G8 representing the future of media on the internet they would have had, at the very least, representatives from some new technology companies that are shaping our digital future such as Google, Apple, or Amazon, or even a representative of an internet media company such as Spotify or its competitors. Without Barlow, there would have been no representative of new technology or new frontiers and it would have appeared that the claimed consensus on the issues surrounding copyright would have been true when in fact that is far from the case.
Watch the whole debate below: