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France/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.11 New technologies and digitalisation in the arts and culture

The development of digital technologies transformed information and communication devices, which impacts on many domains of cultural life: cultural consumption, participation and practices, creative processes, and protection of heritage. One of the recent steps in this evolution was the development of interactive sites (Web2.0) or smartphones. The digital world has created new professions such as web designers, internet writers, curators of on-line or virtual museums and galleries – and new markets. With the open data movement, public information must be freely accessible and available for use.

The cultural industries are confronted with digital technologies, which have modified the economy, distribution, diffusion, the collection of authors' and artistic copyright, and the profitability of the investments in production. This change takes place in a sharp competitive framework (internationalisation) open to sectors associated to the cultural industries (telecommunications, electronics, information technologies, and software design). It generates new behaviours and patterns of production and consumption. Such change requires public policy aand also has an impact on cultural employment.

These new developments have an impact on all of the sectors under the responsibility of the Ministry of Culture and its public partners (territorial authorities), including cultural heritage, audience policies, international cultural policies, etc.

From 2009 to 2011, the Statistics, Planning and Studies Department of the Ministry (DEPS) realised prospective studies on the future of cultural policies, to tackle the strategic questions of the future of culture and the media, and of State cultural policies, at a moment marked by the impact of the digital revolution on the offer, practices and participation, by a transition in the process of globalisation and by profound social transformations. These works allowed a diagnosis, scenarios of evolution and the definition of strategic orientations for cultural policies. They are presented in the reports Culture and media 2020 and Culture and media 2030 (see chapter 9.1).

During the French presidency of G8-G20 in 2011, the forum "e-G8" gathered for the first time in Paris the Heads of States of the G8 and the main world leaders of information technologies and the Internet - such as the executives and directors of Google, Wikipedia, Facebook, and Microsoft - to discuss the issues of this economy and advocate the vision of a "civilised Internet". In parallel, the Cultural Summit of G8-G20 organised by the Ministry of Culture in Avignon was dedicated to the issues of the future of creation in the digital era.

At the operating level, since 2002 there is a specific financing system to support the development, production and transmission of innovative or experimental works in the field of the multimedia and digital artistic creation: the DICRéAM Dispositif pour la Création Artistique Multimédia, (system for multimedia artistic creation). This fund is co-managed by the CNC, departments of the Ministry and the National Centre of Books and Literature. Since 2007 the CNC also has a special fund for new media projects, which supports innovative broadcasting and audiovisual works that integrate the specificities of the Internet and / or the mobile screens into their artistic approach and their transmission.

To regulate free access to creative works and protect copyright on the internet, a dedicated public body was created in 2009, the Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Œuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet (HADOPI: High Authority for Transmission of Creative Works and Copyright Protection on the Internet). This creation results from a long legislative process (see chapter 5.1.7).

However, the regulation of the cultural economy in the digital era is a difficult and complex task for public authorities, which can bring debates and conflicts as, for example, between Google and the National Union of Publishers (Syndicat national des éditeurs) (see chapter 4.2.3). The ministry set up in 2012 the commission Culture-acte2 to renew the system of cultural policies in the era of digital technology ( The report issued in May 2013 by this mission recommends, among others, to suppress the HADOPI and to transfer its missions to the CSA (French Broadcasting Authority, see chapter 4.2.6), and to create a tax of 1% on tablets and Smartphones to finance the development of cultural and creative activities.

At the same time, the majority of the cultural institutions set up digital devices to facilitate access to arts and culture and attract the largest audience: on-line visits, digitalisation of heritage and library collections, museum collections, etc.

From 1998 until 2008, the Ministry of Culture supported the implementation of Espaces culturels multimedia (multimedia cultural spots) in cultural institutions and establishments. Furthermore, the departments of the ministry developed a "Guide to data of culture", that proposes to cultural actors and stakeholders simple and relevant legal tools to diffuse and re-use their digital public data.

In 2011, Google opened at its European site in Paris a Cultural Institute, the mission of which is to protect and to promote culture online, with projects such as the digitalisation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, the project of 3D visits of Versailles Palace, digital views of Paris in 2020, or La France en relief, detailed relief maps of XVIIth century French sites into 3D models.

Many cultural digital devices are available on the portal ( access to databases, documents, articles and images, educational resources, cultural agendas and programming, linguistic corpus on French language, etc.

In September 2013 the Minister organised the first edition of the "Digital Autumn" (Automne numérique ( ): a series of events to promote digital practices in artistic creation and education, the opening of the "Silicon Valois" that is a co-working space at the Ministry (located rue de Valois in Paris), partnerships with Microsoft, Creative Commons, Open Knowledge Foundation or the national research centre on computational science (INRIA).

Chapter published: 18-05-2017

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