Dear Nicolas Seydoux, Commissioner, Dear Neelie Kroes,Dear Marie-José Roig,Dear Friends,

I am very happy to be among you once again in Avignon, for the
third edition of this Forum. A Forum that was designed to allow
cultural, media and business communities to meet
to imagine together the political or industrial means allowing
to protect and promote cultural diversity, in the spirit of
2005 UNESCO Convention. The Avignon Forum is also,
since its birth during the French Presidency of the Union in 2008, a
European and international project. This is setting aside, the time of a
dialogue, profit logic, national reflexes, to take
together the measurement of the digital turning point and its considerable impact
on all dimensions of culture.
For at least fifteen years and the rise of the internet,
there were many meetings on the notion of a “knowledge society” and
the intangible economy, on the Lisbon strategy for an economy
competitive knowledge and its uptake in the European strategy
2020. In the very broad spectrum of issues related to the digital revolution, we
cross as well micro-economic debates on the emergence of
sustainable business models, issues of law and
global governance affecting international trade and ownership
intellectual; but these are also fundamental transformations that are
of cultural practices and of a
new ecology of mind.
Once again, the theory and lexicon often lag behind
technological revolutions underway. We still hear a lot
talk about the “dawn” of a new era, as Digital Day
is already well advanced. However, this delay has its virtues: it corresponds
time for reflection. Meetings of all kinds are multiplying, the
efforts of the prospectivists also, watchers of trend and signals
and yet few are entrepreneurs, creators, or
decision-makers, or citizens of the net who can boast in total
honesty to see clearly – except to play the game, very often interested, of the
self-fulfilling prophecy, for the benefit of new apostles who want before
sell their pipes or their business model. In front of them, we find
sometimes heroes of late Western, always riding like James Coburn
in Once upon a time the revolution, who try not to see that the
modernity and the car have already made their appearance.
In contrast to the performative postures and the glitz of certainties,
I will adopt with you the path of modesty and prudence, for
cross the crest line of a few simple observations on which I
believe, we can agree on the digital shift.
A cognitive revolution is underway
Again with you, I would like to visit the pharmacy of
Plato». In the myth of Theuth, when the pharaoh Thamous receives
the present writing of this inventor god, he immediately perceives the double
constraint. In his eyes, writing is, for knowledge and memory, a
pharmakon, of which Jacques Derrida in a famous text reminded us
which in Greek means both remedy and poison. The world of epics
transmitted orally, the sacredness of the word, nothing will ever be
as before. What is the situation today? We find the main themes
that Plato addressed in the Phèdre: our new prostheses create in
we care about loss, like the writing tablet for Pharaoh. This
are other tablets, much more sophisticated, that we have
now, but which generate the same feeling, mixed, of a very strong
release and loss may be irremediable. Wasting time,
notably, is probably the cleanest at our turn
technological: time spent sorting content and rebuilding
a grammar, the time lost to zapper, not being able to fix, the whole
in favour of impoverishing cultural consumerism and at the expense of
time of appreciation, of the qualitative, as noted very rightly
Bernard Stiegler.
To this concern for loss is added that of the new dominations.
Anthropologist Jack Goody spoke in his book La raison
graphic of the painting of the world by writing, from the time
and before industrialisation: perhaps we are witnessing a
world table of a new type, where exclusions will not
only on access to new technologies, but also
their mastery. The digital divide is not just a
equipment; it is also a matter of acquiring
skills, a new approach to knowledge.
We are familiar with these concerns. We do not yet have
means of knowing if the formidable remedy of access and speed
will outweigh the poison of abundance and waste of time.
A revolution for creators
The same ambiguity is perceptible in the field of creation. The
Digital Turning is sure to offer great opportunities for
creators: a multiplying ability to reach their audiences, of course; the
perspective, also, to see emerging the possibility of producing works
networking, with adapted copyright management modalities:
with for example the participation this year of Creative Commons, we
will probably have a rich debate between open source and
those who defend, for cultural industries, more
For the time being, funding arrangements for creators on the
net still remain uncertain. Here again, the pharmakon knocks at the door:
for increased visibility, the compensation horizon remains
well foggy. Well before the MySpace years, we can see, in the
correspondence between Joseph Haydn and Mozart, how many
composers were also concerned about the safety of their
The Court of First Instance
One could still decline the ambiguity of the remedy and the poison for good
other areas where the digital revolution is having an impact
maximum. I am thinking of the revolution it implies for the media and
journalism. Behind the acceleration of transmission, probably also
dazzling as the one who once wore Martin Luther and leaves
of the Reform, there is also the question of financing
uncertain, in a horizon where the instability of a landscape in full
There are legitimate concerns about recomposition from paper to screen.
The reader is also concerned by too much information, when
access becomes excess. The prayer of the modern man which Hegel spoke to
about the morning reading of the newspaper is now played well
it has become a connected, connected prayer, all the
throughout the day. Generally speaking, whether it is reading, listening or
to see, it is to a revolution in cultural practices that we
assists. The individualization and atomization of online practices of
reader, listener, spectator, loneliness and lack of reference points
sometimes comes with an incredible freedom: the freedom to access
content from all walks of life and around the world.
With the digital shift, the tablet that Theuth gives to Pharaoh has
transformed into a pill in our modern mythologies: it is the choice that
Neo, in Matrix, must do between the red pill and the blue pill, between
ignorance and knowledge - except that there would only be one, blue
and red at the same time. What to do when we have, all or almost, swallowed it,
at least in our industrialized countries? First, perhaps, we
keep new fetishisms that technology can produce, and do not
not take the pipes for content. Our screens, small as they are,
large, flat, portable or not, are above all instruments at the service
of each one. Moreover, they can sometimes produce singular works,
like that of David Hockney, who was able to
old drawing of Dürer on IPhone or IPad, playing on the
new possibilities offered by these media.
In France, we have largely made the shift to digital; we
and the challenges they face.
pose. Both public and private actors have fully seized it.
It remains to be seen, in view of the few observations I have just mentioned, what
are the responsibilities we must carry together. I will remind you of them
this morning some with you.
Ensure access
First, to ensure access to cultural goods and services in
line. I don’t particularly like the term fracture
“digital”: in the global new language, fractures and “gaps” are
increase. There would no longer be any problems, there would only be fractures to
reduce. The digital shift is a new dimension for a
the production of inequalities. As one of the
studies produced for the Forum, the road to
democratization of access to culture through digital media is
and disparities, both at local and global level, do not
are not going to go away if you just stare
only general increase in connection rates. On this point, the
responsibility of public authorities is essential, at local and
at national and global level.
Don’t lose the memory of the world, and «archive the future»
Among the challenges posed by the digital shift is also
the preservation of written and audiovisual heritage. The
digitization offers us the chance to make it a heritage all the more
accessibility will be increased. This is, as you know,
a priority for my Ministry and for the State, which has decided to
a significant part of the Grand Loan, €750 million in this case,
investments in the digitisation of cultural content,
scientific and educational partnerships.
The digitisation of content is also, at Union level, the
virtual libraries and especially Europeana, to which we
may, I hope, soon give a second breath. As such,
Commissioner, please be assured that I will review the
greater attention to the conclusions of the Committee of Wise Men
created on the challenges of digitization.
Among these issues, I would like to briefly mention the issue of
and the complete reconfiguration of the profession of archivist they
involve. Having different search engines means benefiting
a plurality of approaches; it means giving oneself the means to
serve, on all the knowledge, several cartographies. As such, I
for example, I am pleased with the agreement reached between a large company
and the National Library of France
for the indexing of his digitized works. However, I say this without
no demonization of a large company in the industry
cultural, whose power and capacity for innovation open us without
no doubt very good partnership prospects; but it is good,
sometimes, to recall that regulation is not a concept of the past, and
that the State must more than ever play its role as guarantor of the collective interest.
The maintenance, moreover, of a plurality of actors can only be one
benefit for all those concerned by this digitization, that it
public institutions, companies or researchers
involved. It is to several - and not to two - that we must draw the
consequences of this reinvention of conservation and indexing that
is currently taking place, in order to better «archive the future», to
take back the beautiful expression of Milad Doueihi.
The strength of the new rankings, the need to evaluate also weigh, well
on linguistic diversity. As Minister of Language
I am thinking in particular of researchers, now judged on the
their online citation rates, in publications primarily in
English. If there is one area where the spectrum of standardization does not
It is not an easy scarecrow, it is that of the modalities
conceptualization languages, especially for the humanities
and social issues, especially in countries where they are rooted
historically in a very productive theoretical field, as is the
for example in France and Germany. I am not saying this to agitate
the red cloth of the French against the English, or to contest in vain the
A formidable vehicular function assumed by English, on the contrary.
But languages carry ways of thinking, and foster
production in French in the humanities, that’s where
also give themselves the means to preserve several angles of view for
to decipher the world. The General Delegation of the
languages of France is currently studying the possibilities open to us
to support the English translation and posting of this
French scientific production, following a simple principle: translate and
put online in English to be able to think in French – while
ensuring that the researcher has the necessary international visibility. This
could be Chinese, Arabic or Dutch but
also, paradoxically, English .
Another major challenge of the digital revolution is the need to ensure
the dynamism and pluralism of creation. This is the aim of the
that I set up with HADOPI, whose function I recall above all
educational and preventive, and the launch of operations such as map
music. Creativity is not in itself a renewable energy; it is
a source that can quickly dry up, just as the diversity of
supply, if conditions are no longer met for minimum funding.
It must be recognized that for several years, supporters of the
Free online content delivered a compelling message:
cultural goods belong to all, and must escape the logic
market. Who, in principle, would oppose such a proposal, which has
the moral merit of recognizing that a cultural property in itself has no
price? But to taste the sweet chill of what sometimes appears as a
subversion finally well consensual, we forget in passing the
creators who have suffered the full force of piracy. In view of the ravages that
the latter has in recent years resulted on the financing of the
creation and preservation of its diversity – I am obviously thinking
first in the music industry -, the last supporters of the
“free at all costs” look more and more, to take back the good
by Philippe Muray, to the mutineers of Panurge. Fortunately, the time
where one imagined, in a kind of runaway on the economy of
the immaterial, that gratuitousness would reign over the whole of what is called
cultural “content”, both for their production and
consumption, is largely gone, and the free market has lost its
lustre. The question of the remuneration of creators and the value of said
content has returned to its central place in a debate aimed at articulating
legal digitalization and dynamism in the cultural sectors of our economies.
I take this opportunity, Commissioner, to welcome the opinion
The Commission’s support for the introduction of the card
music in France, confirming its compatibility with the regime
The Commission’s proposal for a Directive on State aid.
Supporting cultural and creative industries
Defending the legal offer against piracy is not, of course, giving in to
the logic of any market. The digital revolution brings us
to rethink the relationship between the private sector and public authorities, including
the position cannot be content to guarantee and monitor. The spirit of
public-private partnerships that I advocate is part of a
cultural and creative industries, including the
of SMEs that must be able to contribute to the
their ability to innovate.
I will take the example of an emerging sector: the e-book. The Senate,
as you know, has just passed a bill on price
unique homothetic book, to prevent concentration effects
that could harm the diversity of creation. We
would like, Commissioner, to raise awareness in future
EU Member States.
There are many areas where public policy intervention is
more than ever necessary: I am thinking for example of VAT at reduced rates
for online cultural goods. The pluralism of broadcasting is at stake:
book, music or video, the new services of
distribution of cultural works online are still looking for a
economic model, and must be able to benefit from a
favourable fiscal environment, as is the case in Japan or
in much of the United States. We would therefore like, as
You know, Mrs Kroes, that the VAT Directive allows
States wishing to apply reduced rates on cultural property
online. It is for me, as for the President of the Republic, a
key cultural and economic issue for our country and our partners
Supporting new practices
Finally, I hope that in a meeting such as the Avignon Forum,
we did not lose sight of the contribution of an essential actor: I mean
of civil society. Associations, idea agitators, bloggers
and opinion-makers form the motley population of this ensemble
under which we continue to gather, for convenience, all the energies
creators who are in fact neither of public power nor of the world
of the company. The reason I’m talking about civil society is that this old
the lady of political philosophy knows a new youth thanks to
the internet. From blogs to social networks, there is tremendous potential
for the emergence of amateur communities, for shared analysis,
for the contribution to criticism, be it music, literature, or
cinema or video game. By giving the technical and
reviving the desire to cross the eyes, the network promotes the
multiplication of what I would call taste communities.
Encouraging this dynamic means giving ourselves the means to turn more
quickly the page of consumerism, of the waste of time that I mentioned more
early, drowning in the virtual area. These communities of taste
online constitute one of the forms the culture for everyone who is
to build oneself: the duty of the public authority is then to stand
listening as much as possible to the good ideas emerging from these
new networks, to support them, to give them body, to
“good practices” in the literal sense of the word. Fostering culture to
everyone, it is also this: putting the qualitative at the center of the practices
the individualisation of which is increased by the new media,
for the best and worst of our new industrial age:
the extraordinary freedom of choice, the profusion of supply, on the one hand; on the other
“podcast consumerism”, loneliness and online illiteracy.
Support and help structure new online practices,
this is one of the themes of the consultation on culture for everyone that I
I am launching at regional and national level with stakeholders
of culture.
Bringing ideas to the fore, exposing them, debating them is precisely the
ambitious mission of this Forum, whose programming promises to be a
once again very promising. I would like to warmly greet his
organizers for the quality of their work their unfailing commitment, in
Laure Kaltenbach and her team. I also greet the
study firms that have prepared the ground for these two days of
discussions and meetings, on topics as varied as the creation of
value in the digital world and micro-payment, on writing in the era
on culture and territorial development, and on
online access and cultural practices. The debates that will follow will focus on
help us to see more clearly in partnerships between actors
public and private sector that we can and must rise, both in
European and international levels, if we want to make
ensure that the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity does not
are not empty words.
Thank you.