Zelnik Report: denial of rights and business payed by taxpayers

Paris, January 7th, 2010 - Today, the Zelnik report has been presented to the public by the French president. The publication of this report was postponed many times because the trio composing the mission had many difficulties in executing their instructions: finding new sources of funding for the chosen business models of the government, without recognizing any right for Internet users and citizens. The results are close to obscenity: by privileging public subsidies and tax credits, the report suggests charging all the taxpayers the price of a particular and dogmatic form of cultural commodification.

The Zelnik mission has given birth to a naughty small mouse: tens of million euros of subsidies to outdated business, funded by public money via complex taxes. As the Minister announced, approaches recognizing the rights for non-commercial sharing and the fair funding of artistic creation, such as the creative contribution, were ignored.

The way this mission has been setup and the way it worked has already raised serious criticisms: conflicts of interests and absence of real debate were commonplace, revealed on several occasions by La Quadrature du Net and consumer-group UFC-Que Choisir (on September 29th, 2009 and December 16th, 2009). The final report confirms those concerns.

« By privileging public subsidies for obsolete business models and by refusing any right to the public, the Zelnik mission showed that the Government's big speeches on the cultural diversity are here only to serve narrow private interests. The fact is that the only one to assume the risks will be taxpayers and citizens, already attacked by the accusation-machine of the HADOPI. A big joke! » comments Jérémie Zimmermann, coordinator of La Quadrature du Net.

The mission offered itself a small boldness by suggesting a compulsory collective management of the rights for commercial actors who provide such online services (streaming and download)1. But it does not prevent the Commission from justifying the rejection of the creative contribution by outlining the sacred character of the exclusive rights of the author and of individual management. In the absence of rights for the public, the fluidization of the downloads market by collective rights management will be a beautiful present for the richest of these commercial actors, who will be in position to easily take over the market share of smaller competitors.

Everybody would be forced to participate: taxpayers, access providers, online advertising agencies. For the latter, the report multiplies the gesticulations in levy and in fight against the dominant positions. The mission has found a scapegoat by suggesting taxing American search engines that rely on advertising, while believing it can spare other smaller online advertising agencies. What is clear is that the implementation of such a proposal will not be simple. Moreover, who believes that the power of those big actors can be counterbalanced without allowing the public to act for the cultural diversity through sharing?

« By refusing to take into account the growing evidence that file sharing has nothing to do with the crisis of the cultural industries and that it can contribute to a big extent to cultural diversity, the government would lock itself into an expensive dogmatism. And it would continue a 5-year refusal to debate constructive propositions such as the creative contribution. Besides, after the war waged against the public by the HADOPI laws, the government is ready to give public money to some private interests trapped in a conservative vision of the cultural economy » concludes Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. If the private actors do not agree before the end of 2010, such a legislation would be introduced for 3 years.