Jean-Michel Jarre at CISAC General Assembly: "Creators are the fuel of the digital business”

20190530 GA JMJ c JASRAC WA5_9102
Electronic music pioneer and CISAC President Jean-Michel Jarre addresses the CISAC General Assembly.

The following keynote address was delivered by CISAC President Jean-Michel Jarre at the 2019 CISAC General Assembly in Tokyo, hosted by JASRAC.

Good morning everyone.

I would like to thank all our friends at JASRAC for being such wonderful hosts for this CISAC Annual Meeting.

Congratulations to JASRAC for 80 years of honourable and successful service to creators.

Thank you also to the distinguished senior government officials who have supported this meeting. There is something very exciting about holding this CISAC meeting in Asia for the first time in many years. 

As an artist, I am especially happy to be in Tokyo today. Japan is for me a constant source of inspiration. This is a region of dynamic expansion and diversity and also of spectacular cultural and economic growth. 

CISAC’s relations with its Asia societies are full of opportunities for the future. That is why its cooperation with JASRAC to engage in this region is so important. 

CISAC is a truly unique international network of societies and creators. The creative output from each of our countries is so diverse. From Kabuki to hip-hop. From new wave films to Aboriginal art. From electronic music that travels the globe to local language TV scripts. From painting to VR. Yet, along with that diversity, we have an unbreakable bond of unity in our mission. Everything we do together is about improving the lives of creators and helping them make a livelihood from culture.

During my time as CISAC President, I have worked hard to help in this mission.

I remember when I started my mission, a lot of people in the creative industries were considering the concept of authors rights as a dated concept, as an idea belonging to the past.

Step by step, all together, we have made the idea of intellectual property cool-a timeless principle for a sustainable future. 

Everybody today knows about CISAC. This week I have the great honour to be part of the Billboard list of the 100 most influential actors of our industry as President of CISAC. It means that our voice matters. It means that we are not only part of the game, but as authors and creators, we are at the centre of it. 

For these past six years, I tried to carry our flag as high as possible around the planet to make everyone understand that we are, as authors, creators and publishers, the fuel of the digital world. We deserve a part of the digital cake.

For these past six years, I contributed as UNESCO ambassador to create a necessary link between UNESCO and CISAC to reinforce the idea that authors right is a fundamental human right-a necessary part of our sustainable development and also to promote the importance of the voice of Africa in the 21st century. We also opened a CISAC office in China. Today, CISAC is everywhere.

Following this strong link with UNESCO, we met the Secretary General of United Nations, Antonio Gutteres, a few months ago with Gadi Oron and the CISAC team. A great man of culture that is on our side. We have discussed the possibility of creating a think tank in coordination with CISAC and UNESCO.

Last but not least, we have won an incredible battle. An important new copyright legislation was adopted in Europe. It has incredible global implications. 

It has been a violent fight-a difficult battle against the huge lobbying of Google. I would like to thank and to pay tribute to the amazing work and dedication of Jean-Noël Tronc and the SACEM team, of GESAC, and of course CISAC. Thank you everybody! This decision is not only important for Europe, but it will have a domino effect worldwide-everywhere in Africa, in

Asia, in South America, and in the U.S. The world was looking at the European Parliament. 

This was a great victory. I was honoured to be personally part of this campaign.  It was incredibly tough. The anti-copyright tech lobby waged an overwhelming misinformation campaign, but our tenacity, and the rightness of our cause, made sure the copyright directive was adopted.

We can celebrate today but let me tell you a story about all this. A week before the vote, I got the idea to launch a campaign called “Just say yes”. The idea was to ask creators of all kinds and generations, even beyond Europe, to record a short video message asking to the members of Parliament: just say yes!

We worked with my own team, days and nights, to contact artists in order to be ready just before the vote. It has been extremely difficult to convince creators all around the world just to send a simple message. It means that all of you have some work to do in your home territories to inform and educate your authors to make them realise that we have to speak clearly with one voice. That musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, journalists and all the media world: WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT.

As I said, the directive is a real breakthrough not just for Europe, but for the world. Most importantly, it points to a new, fairer relationship between creators and the giant platforms that use their works. It lays down new principles that help screenwriters and directors in their campaign for fair remuneration. Europe’s new legislation is not only a legal template for other countries, but it is a beacon and inspiration for policy makers worldwide.

No doubt that there will be a before and an after with this decision. We are not at war with digital platforms. We need them as they need us.

They make it possible for creators to get to massive audiences. But we, the creators, are the fuel of their business. It has to be a symbiotic partnership, not a Faustian pact, like all partnerships. It needs to be equal and fair.

Recently on one of my recent albums Electronica, I did a collaboration with Edward Snowden to show the danger of the wrong use of technology. He is still considered a traitor by his country, but it is because of him that we all how our private life may be affected by some digital actors. 

Technology is neutral. It is only the way we use it that can be positive or negative. We are not against technology. Saying that we are against freedom of expression because we want a fair regulation on the internet is like being against driving licenses in the name of freedom of circulation at the beginning of the car industry. Europe’s new legislation is not only a legal template for other countries, but it is a beacon and inspiration for policy makers worldwide.

Our goal is a fair partnership with all users of our work. 

During these past six years, I have tried to help navigate the stormy waters of our community’s transition to the digital world. After all these victories, there is a key question for songwriters, artists, film makers and the millions of creators CISAC represents across the world. Has digital “delivered” for them? The answer is no, it has not. Not enough.

The simple truth is that, in the digital world, those who create culture are not yet rewarded fairly in comparison to those who distribute, make available and broadcast culture and information. The exciting revenue growth we see from streaming is great news. But let’s not forget that the digital world is dominated by a small handful of giant powers. Too often, the legal environment helps make that domination possible.

This is the greatest raison d’etrefor the work done by CISAC. For all the benefits that digital has brought, the truth is that commercial Goliaths still reign supreme. In front of them, let’s be the David’s of the 21st century!

Our mission is to create a modern legal environment that properly rewards creators. We can only do that effectively if we act together. We need to think and act globally

Talking about the future, one of the next priorities for CISAC and for all of us will be to organize a think tank regarding AI to define what will be the challenges of intellectual property ahead of us.

Finally, I have now completed two terms as the President of CISAC. I have taken this role seriously. I think that I have to give back because there is an emergency protecting the creativity of our children. I have greatly enjoy working alongside Gadi and his team. I see the positive changes he has brought to CISAC, through his dedication and his skilful management. I have been invited to remain as President for another year.  I am happy to so if this is the wish of CISAC members.

I have been fortunate to have a successful career and to have reached a worldwide audience with my music. I feel that is a responsibility to do what I can to help the next generation whose success and survival depends so much on the protection of their rights. You know that you will always be able to count on me if it’s needed!

Don’t forget: What makes a difference between democracy and chaos is to define the rules, equal to all of us, and it is relevant more than ever in the digital age. The ultimate way to harm freedom of expression is to not give the means to live from our work.

Google is defining itself as a search engine. To be one means that they need to have something to search. They use our content. We are virtual shareholders of their company. The future generations of creators are entitled to have a part of the digital cake.

As you know, I shall repeat what became one of my motto as President of CISAC: In a smart phone, the smart part is us! 

Thank you for all your work and I wish you a very successful annual assembly.