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DEBATES 2011 - Intellectual property, by Pascal Rogard

Pascal Rogard, Managing Director of the SACD and member of the board of the Forum d’Avignon

How would you describe the links between culture and economy? 

Indivisible. It is understandable that cultural creation is an economy in itself. Because it is necessary to remunerate creative people and others participating in the production and diffusion of artworks – and because investments in creation can be huge (as in the case of film production), culture cannot be put aside from economy. 

Yet, the necessity to avoid the formatting of artworks and ensure the diversity of creation implies the enforcement of a regulation policy, able to orientate investments and to determine a minimal level. 

Intellectual property is a topic of debate which fascinates professionals of the cultural fields, but remains misunderstood by the mainstream, why?

The intellectual property also fascinates a larger public, at least most of the internet users who have an opinion on the subject, even if they are not always well informed. 

It remains a topic fundamentally misunderstood for 3 reasons: 

-          It is an immaterial type of property and the public finds it difficult to realize that a book, a movie or music can be related to any type of property as would be a material object  

-          This trend is deeply accentuated by the technical easiness of exchanges and access granted by the Internet. This explains the fact that a proportion of the public has, during a long period, felt that downloading cultural content in an illegal way could be harmless to creation

-          The intellectual property protects intellectual works, as a part of culture, which is often perceived as belonging to all; even though it is fundamentally true that culture should be broadcasted to the widest public possible, this broadcasting cannot be done under any conditions and should respect the economic conditions of creation, in particular the remuneration of authors (as it is their only revenue) as well as the producers’ one (as they cannot invest if they do not get any ROI back). 

The action conducted by institutions such as the HADOPI (promoting the distribution of creative works and the protection of rights on the internet) in France contributes to the public awareness of the real danger related to counterfeiting.  

If you had to deal with a single stake related to intellectual property for the coming years which one would it be? And which concrete proposition would you suggest to solve this issue? 

I would make sure that technical go-betweens become better partners for creation (i) to develop the legal offer (ii) and convince subscribers of the need to limit their use to legal channels (iii) contributing to the setup of technical means to frame illegal activities.

From this perspective, we should insist on the fact that technical go-betweens are the main beneficiaries of the development of Internet, which is itself conditioned by the ability to access protected content. 

The solution consisting modifying international texts should not be put aside either – notably the European one – to incite the go-betweens – or the services benefiting from those set of legal rules such as cooperative websites – (i) to cooperate to the struggle against counterfeiting, (ii) to develop the conditions for an attractive legal offer, (iii) to face the development of new types of services, such as the “cloud computing”. 

What are the international examples which could inspire us as a group in terms of intellectual property?

I think that France has been able to react to main issues around intellectual property - so are the USA, and in a pragmatic way rather than a through the law.  

Those states have done so because creation holds an important place in their economy as well as in the imagination of their citizens. 

However, the development of the Internet requires coordinated answers and common actions. That’s why it was useful to tackle those questions during the G8 on the initiative of the President of the French Republic.