Dear Minister Hervé GAYMARD, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

We are gathered today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
Yes, that is why we are gathered here today in this beautiful hotel on rue de Verneuil.
For the excellent report by Hervé GAYMARD illustrates, as you have just rightly done, the whole relevance of one of the laws that have marked the most these fifty years of state action at the service of culture. I am referring, of course, to the law on the single price of books, the great law of regulation, which has had many virtues and to which I am very attached:

This law of 10 August 1981 covers and promotes editorial diversity: it has helped to preserve a network of committed and dynamic bookshops;
This law stimulates innovation: it has enabled bold structures to bring their editorial production to life and to find its readers;
This law promotes competition within the book industry: it has not prevented the coexistence of small bookstores, large specialized stores and online sales.

In that sense, it is, I insist, a major regulatory act. Regulation in the cultural industries sector is a necessity. This is a fundamental responsibility of the State. The example of the book shows that regulation is at the service of creation, innovation and artistic and cultural pluralism. The absence of rules is just as destructive as the absence of freedom, because there is no freedom without rules. This principle is valid for the Internet, whose rise in power in our societies must be accompanied and civilized by rules, it is also, of course, for books.

Establishing the rules of the game is a first basis, a base that does not forbid us to act to stimulate strategic sectors. Many efforts have been made recently and will continue to complement the effects of the law on the single price of books:
the labeling of reference booksellers: 406 bookshops have already been labeled, and a reflection is underway to extend the scheme to other bookshops carrying editorial diversity;
I will also commit that the derogation from the rules of payment deadlines set by the law on the modernization of the economy voted in July 2008, be quickly adopted by Parliament; this is, I know, a necessity, with regard to the deadlines and durations specific to the book industry.

This is common sense, but it is also the mark of our attachment to the book and to reading. Opening a book, as everyone knows, is not simply “consuming” a harmless cultural good. To open a book is always and will be for a long time, to open up to duration, complexity, and depth. The book remains the privileged gateway to the worlds of culture.
This attachment explains the tensions and polemics that animate opinion as soon as one touches the book:
- I have had the opportunity to speak on the subject of Google, and I want to take this opportunity to reiterate and reaffirm the principles that will guide me in this matter:
First and foremost, I want to move past the debate. As I have said and written, no valid decision can be made in a context of media excitement and agitation. First, we must clearly understand the stakes of the debate.
Of course, my position on Google will not be tainted by any anti-Americanism. It is not my sensitivity, and my gaze will not be disturbed by an ideological prism.

I will therefore distinguish between two questions:

1 – First, there is the question by Google of the digitization of works that are under law:

On this point, the Government’s position is very firm: France cannot accept that copyright is violated. This is the purpose of our action with the American judge, who must rule on the draft regulation between Google and American authors and publishers. This is also what the Director of Books and Readings expressed when he was interviewed by the European Commission in Brussels on 7 September.
This draft agreement is difficult for us in three respects:
- it does not respect intellectual property law,
- it does not comply with competition law,
- it constitutes a threat to cultural diversity by granting Google a contractual monopoly, particularly on works known as “orphans”.

2 – The second question concerns works in the public domain:

I have already spoken on the subject during the controversy between Google and the BnF. I want to avoid any haste and Manichaeism.

On the one hand, I know the risks of partnering with Google:

- strengthening a dominant position;
- the question of the sustainability of the preservation and archiving of digitized files;
- the question of ownership of these files;
- the uncertainty of the company’s strategy and future.

On the other hand, I look at the partnerships that have been established with the California firm by major libraries in Europe and around the world.
=> It is normal to question the relevance of an agreement with regard to the objectives of general interest for which I am responsible.

I would therefore like to have all the technical elements at my disposal, to deepen my thinking in order to make the decision that I consider the best.
I also hope that the issue of so-called «orphan» works will be the subject of strong action by France with the European Union.
I also want to give a new impetus to Europeana, this beautiful European digital library project, which must deepen its design, by adding the editorial quality that Google does not offer.
Digitizing our heritage requires a public effort, I am convinced. It is for this reason that my teams are currently working on a major project that I will propose to the President of the Republic as part of the big loan.

As soon as I joined the ministry, I identified and defined the digital revolution as the major challenge and one of the main priorities of my action.
This issue obviously also includes the subject of the e-book on which we must be prepared.

It’s a challenge and it’s a chance. Because the digital transformation in the field of books has not yet happened, and we can anticipate this «shift», which can happen very quickly.
So we are at a turning point, in a moment of watchfulness and expectation, a bit like those described by Julien Gracq, before the big starts.
I will make a strong commitment to ensure that a legal and attractive e-book offer can quickly emerge.
This is a necessity to avoid the drift towards piracy, which we have known for other sectors.
This requires all the necessary technical, legal and economic conditions. You can count on my department’s involvement to move this issue forward. Following the main recommendations of Bruno PATINO’s excellent report, which was submitted to my predecessor in June 2008, I will ensure that the public support of publishers is as effective as possible. You can count on my commitment.

In return, it is necessary that all the actors engage with me, because the emergence of a legal and attractive offer of e-books does not depend solely on the public authorities and the ministry of culture. This offer must be simple, interoperable and economically accessible.
In this regard, the project of a single platform for access to digital book offering should bring together French publishers. This is a strategic project that will allow the creation of an alternative offer to Google. Here too, I will pay particular attention to the support my services can provide to make this project succeed.
The mission that I entrusted to Patrick ZELNIK, Jacques TOUBON and Guillaume CERRUTTI will also determine the first conditions that will promote this development.
I would also like to point out that the Ministry of Culture and Communication has asked for precise guidance by commissioning three important studies whose conclusions we expect for the first quarter of 2010:
One on the uses and audiences of the digital book, led by the Book Directorate, the National Book Centre and the BnF, and entrusted to the company IPSOS;
The other on its economic models and particularly on the issue of the price of e-books, led by the Department of Prospective Studies and Statistics,
The third on the piracy of books on the Internet, led by the Direction du Livre and the Autorité de Régulation des Mesures Techniques.
The lessons learned from these studies will be decisive.

They will allow us to move forward together so that the digital book takes its place, its place and nothing but its place, in the reading offer of tomorrow.
So that it will be another gateway to the worlds of culture, especially for young people and audiences who are a priori the furthest away.
Because the Book is par excellence the lever that has always been able to unblock social intimidation and open a privileged relationship, I usually say «intimate», to culture.