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The eG8 was meant to be President Sarkozy's showpiece event, an opportunity to gather together the great and the good of Internet and content industries and have them all listen to him. It preceding the main economic talks of the G8. But today the French culture Minister, Frédéric Mitterrand,  had his nose  put well  out of joint. The rarified atmosphere of favoured copyright  industry was infiltrated by copyleft viewpoints. A prestige panel on Internet content appears to have turned into a farce worthy of Beaumarchais himself, as M. Mitterand was put well out of his comfort zone by John Perry Barlow, and  Jérémie Zimmermann (in this video) .


As outside the eG8, citizen activists attempted to alert the industry and government representatives to the problems of Sarkozy's plans to control the Internet, inside  Frédéric Mitterrand, chaired a panel comprising  four stalwarts of the copyright industries. They were  Antoine Gallimard  of Editions Gallimard, James Gianopulos of 20th Century Fox (Murdoch Corporation), Pascal Nègre, head  of Universal Music France, and Hartmut Ostrowski of  music publishers Bertelsmann.  A last-minute invitee was  John Perry Barlow, former musician with the Grateful Dead, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and author of one of the seminal articles of the copyleft,  The Economy of Ideas.


John Perry Barlow stirred things up quite a bit, according to

a report in the French journal MediaPart . At the end of what  might be termed in Sarkozy-speak a ;'civilised' discussion where 20th Century fox agreed with the Minister that Hadopi is a good thing, Mr Barlow spoke up:


"I get the impression of being from another planet. A property is something you can take from me, that does not apply to expresion. You speak of content as if there  existed a container which one could exchange, but that no longer exists. You are refuding to recognise that the Internet is a coninuous domain and if you try to control it, in order to protect intellectual property, you will finhs up by controlling freedom of expression..." This conference is only about imposing norms of another era onto the future... "


According to the report, a frustrated M. Mitterand started talking economics. But when Mr Barlow appeared to be more conversant with the figures,  the Minister wanted to hear no more.


Jérémie Zimmermann of  La Quadrature du Net jumped in to the question and answer session, and  told the Minister that industry needs to change to meet the needs of users  and not the other way around. Watch the video carefully for the reaction of Frédéric Mitterrand and the copyright industry panelists.


A round table on innovation included  Lawrence Lessig. According to a report in PC Inpact, Lessig

told the French government that the Hadopi scheme would be still-born. This idea of a graduated response benefits those who are already in place, but ignores innovation. And he called on the G8 governments to protect open access and a neutral network.



The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2011) eG8: copyright panel  backfires on French Culture Minister 25 May 2011 .

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed.  

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

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