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SACEM’s director general, Jean-Noël Tronc: We must remain engaged. Nothing has been decided yet

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Directive on copyright law: We must remain engaged. Nothing has been decided yet
(translated from French to English by Filip Gagnon)

Paris- 18/09

Let’s not lose sight that the text (pertaining to the directive on copyright law) adopted (12/09/2018) is a compromise. Were it not so, it wouldn’t have been accepted. The Polish vice-minister with whom I exchanged was clear on it : if 100% of Polish eurodeputies didn’t vote against or fought the text in July 2018, it wasn’t only due to lobbying from Google, but also because the text was pushing further than what was settled by the States on the council. In the 24 articles of the text, there are aspects which aren’t satisfying for the cultural world. We must hope for a improvement at the trialogue  – declared Jean-Noël Tronc, Sacem’s director-general (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music) in an interview to News Tank on 18/09/2018.

Jean-Noel Tronc goes back to the adoption of the text at the european parliament on 12/09/2018 and how the situation changed, since the negative vote on 05/07/2018. He also mentions the following regarding the upcoming trialogue: We must remain engaged, nothing has been decided yet. I hope that the discussion will be carried without antidemocratic pressure coming from outside. Let us not forget that the rejection of 05/07/2018 came upon almost 6 years later to the day after the massive rejection by the parliament of the treaty on anti counterfeiting ACTA, at the stage of ratification. Besides, in Poland, we are talking about the vote as an ‘’ACTA 2’’ which is quite revealing on the way things are still being interpreted while this text, in it’s substance, has nothing to do with it

How do you welcome the european parliament’s vote on copyright law on 12/09/2018 ?

The fury against article 13 was also meant to bring down article 11. 

We are of course relieved. Even more so that the issues around this vote went above the question, of course central, of copyright law and remuneration to creators. This vote is also decisive for the media and all questions pertaining to it. While it is unfortunately common to attack copyright law under the guise of censorship, it is on the other hand much more difficult for google and facebook to attack the press directly. The fury against article 13 ( pertaining to the responsability of platforms)  was also meant to bring down article 11 ( foreseeing the creation of a side law for press editors ) Let us recall that the Spanish had tried to adopt such measure a few years ago, and that google had threathened then to cut ties to press sites, forcing the government into backing down. Same in Germany, where chancellor Angela  Merkel, had voted a similar law against which google also opposed. We are now, with the text of this directive, on extremely serious issues and the battle isn’t over. We must remain engaged, even more so that the misinformation campaign has begun again.

How do you analize the turnaround, after the negative vote at the parliament on 05/07/2018 ?

On the 51 Polish eurodeputies, none had voted favorably back in last july. Finally, on 12/09/2018 19 voted in favor

Three reasons can explain in my opinion this turnaround. On one hand, I think that the information campain and education lead by the cultural branch bore fruits. Myself included, after the week following the vote of 05/07/2018 , mobilised all my collegues from collective management in Europe. We all concluded that a strong mobilisation was in order. We have, step by step and with various representatives of creation in Europe, led a campaign , initiatives and sensibilisation on the issue. One of which such as the talk show of Sammy Ketz, reporter and chief of AFP in Baghdad ( French press agency) translated into many languages had a formidable impact. We have also lead the fight in countries where the vote wasn’t settled. In Poland for example,  where I traveled in the beginning of september for a round table with authors, reprensentatives from Google but also the polish minister in charge of the directive. On the 51 Polish eurodeputies, none had voted favorably back in last july. Finally, on 12/09/2018 19 voted in favor including an official close to the greens, who previously backed the position defended by Julia Reda. Our series of action concluded by a movement in Strasbourg, in front of the european parliament and the cathedreal, with artists of all branches and coming from numerous countries.

At the same time, the ‘’citizen mobilization’’ from the Pirate Party on 26/08/2018 managed to move only a few interested, less than 800 in the streets of 11 european capitals while they boasted being strong of a million citizens. This finally showed who they are really : a very small group who while having an elected official at the european parlement, defend a view point of only a small minority in Europe.

The second explanation comes from the formidable movements of certain states, coming for example from France at the first rank. The president Emmanuel Macron publicly reminded in its speeches, many times, the importance of this fight. Francoise Nyssen engaged herself a lot , the same with Nathalie Loiseau, minister in charge of european affairs. It was essential to have a general mobilisation in a time as criticial as the one we’ve been through.

Jean-Mari Cavada played a key role because there was, in the last leg of that race, tensions between even the deputies favorable to articles 11 and 13

Finally, the third reason is that eurodeputies took their responsabilities and fully understood the situation. A poll by Harris Interactive took the pulse of 6600 people in 8 EU countries and showed that 2/3 of citizens think that technology giants are more powerful than european institutions. 61 % believe that they interfere with the way democracy is carried. This was helpful in understanding why it was necessary to resist the democratic hold-up in progress at the parliament. Lastly, I’d like to underline the key role played by Jean-Marie Cavada, because there was, in the last leg of that race, tensions between even the deputies favorable to articles 11 and 13. The same day of the vote, he asked his political group to vote in favor of the mandate, to be in full support of a text version proposed by the PPE(European People’s Party ). This is quite commendable and helped in making a strong majority vote . We can therefore warmly thank him.

Has the text, in some extents, been amended in the wrong way ?

Let’s not lose sight that the text adopted a compromise. Were it not so, it wouldn’t have been accepted. The Polish vice-minister with whom I exchanged was clear on it : if 100% of Polish eurodeputies didn’t vote against or fought the text in July, it wasn’t only due to lobbying from Google, but also because the text had greater reach than what was compromised on by States on the council. In the 24 articles of the text, there are aspects which aren’t satisfying for the cultural world. We must hope for a improvement at the trialogue

Which ones?

A lot of exceptions have been introduced, such as data mining. Moreover, one that is supposed to protect innovation by excluding micro and small  digital enterprises  from copyright law. SACEM has always been along with them in their development by setting in place solutions adapted to their economic models, as shown by the example of Deezer who launched in 2004 thanks to an agreement with SACEM. We are at the heart the innovation and that’s furthermore a priority , taking as an example blockchain, on which we were the first to experiment on for more than a year. But as it it the case with every exceptions, we must be vigilant in the framework in which they are applied.

It is the whole digital sovereignty of Europe as much as it’s cultural sovereignty that are concerned by this directive

Since we’re talking about innovation, Google is likely to kill European innovative enterprises like Qwant while also weakening part of European cultural industries. Some in the field of innovation and new technologies are worried, maybe more than we can from the abuse and position of strength of certain numerical giants. But that doesn’t mean that they were comfortable with the text. We had to talk with them, explain. I tell them : between Europeans, let’s fight together and not one against the other.

How do you explain the vocal opposition within the music industry against article 13?

The are many fights for which unfortunately , the industry is it’s own enemy. However, we need unity and a strategic vision. You will therefore allow me not to comment what was said here and there, as to not add more division on the matter.

The tendency of everyone involved in cultural areas is to put forward its own subject by themselves. That lack of unity hasn’t helped the understand of the situation and explain in part the failure of the vote on 05/07/2018. I believe that this current campaign has brought us strongly closer together.

What are the next steps surrounding the directive?

The trilogue, between the commission, the parliament and the member states will begin very soon. The the text will come back, for it’s definitive ratification at the parliament, and a vote by the assembly.

We must remain engaged, nothing has been decided yet. I hope that the discussion will be carried without antidemocratic pressure coming from outside. Let us not forget that the rejection of 05/07/2018 came upon almost 6 years later to the day after the massive rejection by the parliament of the treaty on anti counterfeiting ACTA, at the stage of ratification. Beside, in Poland, we are talking about the vote as a ‘’ACTA 2’’ which is quite revealing on the way things are still being interpreted while this text, in it’s substance, has nothing to do with it.

A valuable step has been made on 12/09/2018 but it’s not over.

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