Sarkozy Worried About The Internet 'Stealing Audience Share' From 'Regulated' TV Services
from the a-series-of-tubes dept
Earlier this week Techdirt reported on the surprisingly forthright statements of Neelie Kroes concerning the failure of the copyright system in the digital world. She made her remarks at the Forum d’Avignon in France, which was about “strengthening the links between culture and the economy”.
Of course, Kroes was not the only speaker there. Another participant was the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who used the occasion to present his by-now familiar tirade against the “lawless” Internet and its dire effects on creativity. His speech was a classic compilation of his greatest hits in this respect, as captured in the impressive live-blogging of the English translation by David Weinberger.
Early on, Sarkozy states one of his chief concerns about culture in the age of the Internet:
all cultural protagonists are facing a crisis of distribution. This is a matter of extreme seriousness, if we consider ? as I consider ? it is no service to culture to say that it is free for all. The disappearance of traditional distribution methods threatens traditional culture itself.
Sarkozy seems to believe that without traditional distribution methods, there is no traditional culture, and that a means of controlling and selling culture is essential for culture to exist. The implication being that the best way to provide both is to allow the traditional media companies to preserve their stranglehold – and with it, their existing business models. No wonder that he can’t quite understand the point of the Internet and its new approaches that help artists profit from their work more directly – for example, without the need for distribution companies. And no surprise either that he goes on to say:
I have always believed that there would be no form of creation if there were no longer to be respect for upholding and respect for copyright and author?s rights.
Unfortunately for Monsieur le Président, a couple of thousand years of cultural history disagrees. The vast majority of art we regard today as forming the cultural heritage of humanity was produced around the world before copyright existed. It is simply a myth that copyright is needed for creation: artists have always created, whether or not they were given legal monopolies for their works, because that’s what artists do.
Sarkozy also asks the usual rhetorical question, responding to which is left as an exercise to the reader :
Who would buy the film or music if you can access it free of charge?
On the subject of getting stuff for free, he has this to say about free access to museums:
I don?t think that?s the ultimate response because you don?t respect what is free. Everything has a price. Everything has a value. There has to be a bit of an effort for there to be pleasure. But we have for 18-25 and teachers access to museums should be free.
So let’s get this straight: if you have free access to anything, you don’t respect it, but in France access to museums “should be free” for students and teachers according to Sarkozy. So from that must we deduce that he wants those groups to disrespect culture? Probably not, but at the very least it shows how confused his thinking here is.
Unfortunately, there can be no doubt about his thinking when it comes to regulation:
We are indeed facing challenges. E.g., digital TV that puts on the same screen the traditional, regulated services and the Internet world, which is not regulated and that does not contribute to the film industry the way the traditional services do. The latter will be stealing audience share. So we are going to have to work on how to regulate digital, connected TV era.
That sums up Sarkozy’s mindset perfectly: that the Internet should be regulated like traditional TV services, because otherwise it would be “stealing audience share” – that crisis of distribution, again. Indeed this reveals that in Sarkozy’s view, the main problem with the Internet is that it isn’t a traditional TV service ? and suggests that he aims to do everything in his power to rectify that dreadful state of affairs.