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Analysis of the Information Environment in France

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Analysis of the Information Environment in France Powered By Docstoc
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           Analysis of the Information
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            Environment in France
               INFO 780, Spring 2011
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                 4/20/2011



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                Rachel Gordon




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Table of Contents
Abstract ......................................................................................................................................................... 3
Analysis ......................................................................................................................................................... 3
   Introduction .............................................................................................................................................. 3
   International Information Standards and Institutions .............................................................................. 4
   Information Organizations in France ........................................................................................................ 5
   French Culture and Information Organizations ........................................................................................ 6
   Legal Framework ....................................................................................................................................... 7
   Publishing, Telecommunications, and Technology in France ................................................................... 9
   Information Ethics Issues ........................................................................................................................ 10
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 10
References .................................................................................................................................................. 12
Academic Honesty Statement.................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined.14




                                                                                 2
Abstract
       This report analyzes the information environment in France. The information

environment in France is in flux because of political decentralization, the evolution of the French

cultural identity, and French attitudes about copyright law and enforcement. Political pressures

complicate the information environment because France struggles to balance its strong

nationalistic ideals with its membership in the European Union. Social tensions in France also

complicate the information environment for similar reasons – French people strive to preserve

what makes them French but may fail to include non-traditional French citizens in their

definition of France.



Analysis
Introduction
       France is a modern country with major global influence. It played a pivotal role in the

establishment of the European Union (EU) and continues to shape the EU by advocating its

interests in EU institutions. It is also the largest country in the EU,1 the fifth largest economy in

the world,2 and France assumes the Presidency of the G-8 and G-20 this year, so its influence

regionally and globally are far reaching.


       France is a republic with a President, Prime Minister, National Assembly (parliament),

and national court system. The French government was traditionally very centralized with many

sectors partially or wholly controlled by the government.3 Since 1982, France has been slowly

decentralizing its government, but government spending was still high at 55.6% of the GDP in

1
  Member States of the European Union: France. (2011).
http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/eu_members/france/index_en.htm
2
  United States Department of State. (2010). Background Note: France.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3842.htm
3
  Id.

                                                  3
2009 and the government is still a major shareholder in corporations in the banking, energy,

automobile, transportation, and telecommunications sectors.4


International Information Standards and Institutions
         France follows many international information standards established by the International

Federation of Library Associations and other groups, including UNIMARC, INTERMARC,

Dublin Core, ISBD, and ISSN (depending on the audience) in addition to having several

national-level standards.5 The Bibliothéque nationale de France (BnF) is the institution

responsible for the French national bibliography and the implementation of information

standards.6 At the national level, cataloging rules are established by the Association Française de

Normalisation (AFNOR) and are ISBD-compatible.7 Subject standards follow the Répertoire

d’authorité-matière encyclopedique et alphabétique unifié (RAMEAU) and the BnF uses the

INTERMARC/A name authority standard.8


         There are several professional information associations in France. The Association des

Bibliothécaires Français (ABS) adopted the Librarian’s Code of Ethics in 2003.9 This code

defines the relationship between librarians and users, establishes the goals of collection

development, lays out the administrative responsibilities of librarians, and sets standards for the

collaborative responsibilities of librarians to one another and the profession.10 The Association

des Directeurs de la Documentation et des Bibliothéques Universitaires (ABDU) is a


4
  Id.
5
  International Federation of Library Associations. (2010). French National Bibliography.
http://www.ifla.org/en/node/4858
6
  Id.
7
  Id.
8
  Id.
9
  Association des Bibliotechaires Francais (ABF). (2003). The Librarian’s Code of Ethics.
http://archive.ifla.org/faife/ethics/frcode-e.htm
10
   Id.

                                                          4
professional association for University library directors and the Association des Professionels de

l'information et de la Documentation (ADBS) is an organization with membership of over 5,000

information professionals and claims to be the largest information professional organization in

Europe.11 This organization also publishes a code of ethics called Code déontologique de l'ECIA

that is only available in French.12


Information Organizations in France
        The original function of French libraries following the French Revolution was to preserve

French cultural heritage.13 In the mid-twentieth century, national and local governments, leading

librarians, and public attitude shifted in favor of the library as a place to experience modern

technology (the mediathéque movement).14 Libraries are still viewed as primarily cultural centers

and have only recently been integrated with secondary and post secondary education for

purposes of improving information literacy.15


        Information literacy in education was almost non-existent until relatively recently. In

1996 a new national law helped integrate information literacy education in secondary and post-

secondary education.16 Post secondary library education programs in France are integrated with

journalism and communication studies, so while students are exposed to multi-disciplinary

topics, there is limited focus on library science as a distinct discipline.17



11
   Association des Professionels de l'information et de la Documentation. (2011). http://www.adbs.fr/un-reseau-
de-professionnels-809.htm?RH=PLANSITE&RF=R1_ADBS
12
   Association des Professionels de l'information et de la Documentation. Code deontologique de l’ECIA. (2011).
http://www.adbs.fr/code-deontologique-de-l-ecia-1980.htm?RH=ADBS_INSTIT
13
   Id.
14
   Id at 476.
15
   Bertrand, A. (2009). Inventing a Model Library “à la française.” Libraries & the Cultural Record, 44(4), 471-479.
16
   Chevillotte, S. (2007, updated 2010 by Colnot, A.). French Speaking Countries: Belgium, France, Quebec,
Switzerland in Information Literacy: An International State of the Art Report. Retrieved from www.infolitglobal.info
17
   Herubel, J. (2005). Phoenix ascendant: French higher education and its significance for research and learning for
library, book, print, and media culture history. Libraries & Culture, 40(2), 156-176, n. 6.

                                                         5
         The structure of the information environment in France has also been changing. Libraries

were traditionally centralized in Paris with a few smaller regional libraries. With the

decentralization efforts of the last few decades, regional libraries have gained importance and

become more relevant to users. University libraries have also grown and assumed more

important roles in conjunction with higher education. Public libraries remain institutions of

cultural heritage, generally lack reference services, and treat students like intruders.18


         Traditional physical libraries in France focus on the collection as opposed to the user,19

but digital libraries seem to be agents for change in this arena. Because of more stringent

collection criteria (discussed later in the section called Publishing, Telecommunications, and

Technology in France), digital libraries are not as limited to cultural heritage collections as

physical libraries and are helping forge new attitudes about the place and function of libraries in

France.20 The results of the user study cited in footnote 20 coupled with statistics comparing

physical visits to the BnF (950,000 in 2010) to remote visits (7.4 million in the same timeframe)

could signal that French libraries need to focus more on library user needs and less on the

collection in the near future to remain viable.21


French Culture and Information Organizations
         A key theme in the French information environment is the preservation of French culture

and language. The unique French identity is one of the most pervasive themes of French history

and permeates French political and social policy today. After World War II, France was a leader

in the development of a unified Europe, starting with the European Coal and Steel Community


18
   Bertrand, A. (2009). Inventing a Model Library “à la française.” Libraries & the Cultural Record, 44(4), 478.
19
   Id at 472.
20
   Assadi, H., Beauvisage, T., Lupovici, C., and Cloarec, T. (2003). Users and Uses of Online Digital Libraries in
France. Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, 2769, 1-12.
21
   Digital Visits to French National Library Archive Grow 85% Y/Y in 2010. (1/17/2011). Corporate IT Update.

                                                            6
and culminating in today’s European Union. The French have always been protective of their

cultural and linguistic heritage and the early unification of Europe and European citizenship was

initially seen as a threat to French distinctiveness.


           This focus on preserving French cultural and linguistic history has led to tensions with

other countries and corporations. France has been aggressive in making cultural materials

available digitally and contributed more than half of the two million initial items to Europeana,

the European digital library launched in 2008, sparking criticism that European history was being

rewritten from a French perspective.22 The former head of the BnF waged a war of words against

Google because he perceived “a risk of crushing domination by America in defining the idea that

future generations have of the world.”23 Because of cultural and linguistic concerns like this and

issues with copyright, the French government has resisted working with Google to digitize its

collections and started its own digitization effort called Gallica. News reports within the last

week indicate that France may finally be willing to work with Google because Gallica has been

expensive and labor intensive.


Legal Framework
           France is considered one of the strictest countries in Europe with respect to copyright

law. French copyright law protects the interests of the artist as opposed to other countries whose

copyright laws protect the rights of the distributor. Lack of international understanding of this

critical difference has prompted criticism that France is too strict with respect to copyright

enforcement and that France’s current President, Nicolas Sarzosky, advocates for laws that

benefit artists because he is married to a recording artist. In addition to national laws, France is

bound by European Union directives and international copyright agreements which include the

22
     Castle, S. (2008). France Dominates Europe's Digital Library. New York Times 20 Nov. 2008: B6(L).
23
     Albanese, A. (2005) Will Google Hurt French Culture? Library Journal, 20.

                                                           7
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and the Universal Copyright

Convention.24


        In 2009 France’s anti-piracy law was ruled unconstitutional by the Conseil

Constitutionnel (Constitutional Court) in part because its penalty provisions that took away the

internet access of anyone convicted of copyright infringement for a minimum of several months

infringed on basic rights in the French Constitution.25 Critics also argued that the law made no

distinction between personal use and organized crime profiting from illegal activity. France has

been in the news as recently as this week for its sponsorship of copyright law changes at the

European Union level in a European Parliament Resolution seeking to standardize online and

offline copyright laws, to strengthen the fight against online piracy, and to educate “bodies and

citizens” on piracy and counterfeiting.26


        The BnF is responsible for collecting French publications under a collection of laws

known as the Legal Deposit Act. The concept of legal deposit originated with the "Ordonnance

de Montpellier" in 1537 which said that no book could be sold until a copy had been deposited in

the King’s library.27 This concept evolved to include all works published or distributed in France

including websites, which were added in 2006. The BnF has a strict website collection policy

statement on its website saying, “This mission entrusted to the BnF reverses the traditional

relationship between the publisher and the depository institution. Website collection is now

performed by the Library. Publishers, for their part, cannot oppose this collection, and must


24
   1 France Law Digest 17.01. (2010). Martindale-Hubbell European Law Digests.
25
   Decision n° 2009-590 DC of October 22nd 2009http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-
constitutionnel/root/bank_mm/anglais/en2009_590dc.pdf
26
   European Parliament Resolution of 6 April 2011 on a Single Market for Enterprises and Growth. 2010/2277(INI).
Provisional Edition P7_TA-PROV(2011)0146.
27
   International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. History of Legal Deposit. (2000).
http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s1/gnl/chap2.htm

                                                        8
provide the BnF with access to online resources.”28 It is interesting that the BnF seems to either

anticipate non-compliance or hint at problems with voluntary compliance in this statement and

this calls into question future of relationships between the BnF and French publishers.


Publishing, Telecommunications, and Technology in France
        Publishing in France is a private enterprise. Publishers must comply with the Legal

Deposit Act for any material published or distributed in France and any website with a French

domain. Publishers seem to be autonomous from the central government as evidenced by the fact

that a few publishers made deals with Google to have their collections digitized as part of the

Google books project. These seem to be very recent developments so it remains to be seen how

this will impact the relationship between publishers and the French government.


        Telecommunications in France is one of the sectors that was privatized in the late

twentieth century. France Telecom originated as a department of the French government but was

privatized in 2004. The government still owns 27% of the corporation and names the CEO.29

Because France Telecom used to be a government department, competition did not exist until

after privatization and competitors have struggled to capture market share in traditional

communications products and have alleged antitrust violations on the part of France Telecom.30

Because the internet is a newer communications product, there is more competition among

internet providers resulting in low cost access to the internet.


        Technology and telecommunications are very connected industries in France. Several

telecommunications companies offer basic computer terminals in conjunction with internet

28
   http://www.bnf.fr/en/professionals/digital_legal_deposit.html
29
   France Telecom Shareholding Structure. http://www.francetelecom.com/en_EN/finance/stock/shareholder-
structure/index.jsp
30
   Watchdog warns on fibre optic competition. Financial Times. March 10, 2011.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a57a2b2e-4aa5-11e0-82ab-00144feab49a.html#axzz1JnFfZfSE

                                                    9
subscriptions.31 Internet penetration in France was 71.3 users per 100 people in 2009 according

to the World Bank.32 This is comparable to other developed countries and has likely increased

since the data for the World Bank report was collected in 2009. Public access to technology and

the internet is generally not an issue for information organizations in France.


Information Ethics Issues
        One of the major ethical issues confronting information professionals in France is racism.

France was criticized in a 2010 report by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of

Discrimination in 2010 for its treatment of minorities.33 This is a concern for information

organizations because minorities are not considered part of French culture that is the raison

d’être for French libraries, so they may be marginalized as users and contributors. This should be

somewhat mitigated by the Legal Deposit requirements because those do not distinguish

national-level collection efforts based on any other criteria than the works having been published

or distributed in France, but could still impact more traditional information organizations.



Conclusion
        Even though France is a modern country with advanced technology and high levels of

access to technology, it still has a dynamic and challenging information environment. The

preservation of French linguistic and cultural heritage is so engrained in the attitudes of the

French that these will always impact information organizations in France. The French Copyright

Code is very strict and it will be interesting to see how this evolves over time especially as the


31
   France caters to market for the most simple of computers. April 20, 2007.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/02/technology/02iht-neuf.1.5109043.html
32
   World Bank. (2011). World Development Indicators.
http://issuu.com/world.bank.publications/docs/9780821387092
33
   France experiencing “resurgence of racism.” (2010). Telegraph (UK).
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7939841/France-experiencing-resurgence-of-
racism.html

                                                  10
European Union addresses issues like internet piracy because France may have to compromise in

order to reach agreement on European-level intellectual property standards. The deregulation of

industries such as telecommunications in France is a work in progress and is something that

information organizations must remain aware of in order to take advantage of the higher level of

use of digital libraries evidenced by the BnF visit statistics for 2010. Finally, information

organizations in France must take steps to avoid racism in their policies and practices in order to

serve all user groups effectively and comply with the codes of ethics established by professional

associations.




                                                 11
References

Albanese, A. (2005) Will Google Hurt French Culture? Library Journal, 20.

Assadi, H., Beauvisage, T., Lupovici, C., and Cloarec, T. (2003). Users and Uses of Online
Digital Libraries in France. Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries, 2769, 1-
12.

Association des Bibliotechaires Francais (ABF). (2003). The Librarian’s Code of Ethics.
http://archive.ifla.org/faife/ethics/frcode-e.htm


Bertrand, A. (2009). Inventing a Model Library “à la française.” Libraries & the Cultural
Record, 44(4), 471-479.

Castle, S. (2008). France Dominates Europe's Digital Library. New York Times 20 Nov. 2008:
B6(L). Retrieved from
http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy2.library.drexel.edu/gtx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-
Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T004&prodId=AONE&docId=A189442128&source=gale&s
rcprod=AONE&userGroupName=drexel_main&version=1.0

Chevillotte, S. (2007, updated 2010 by Colnot, A.). French Speaking Countries: Belgium,
France, Quebec, Switzerland in Information Literacy: An International State of the Art Report.
Retrieved from www.infolitglobal.info
Constitutional Council. Decision n° 2009-580 of June 10th 2009. Retrieved from
http://www.conseil-constitutionnel.fr/conseil-constitutionnel/root/bank/download/2009-580DC-
2009_580dc.pdf
Dalbello, M. (2009). Cultural Dimensions of Digital Library Development, Part II: The Cultures
of Innovation in Five European National Libraries (Narratives of Development). The Library
Quarterly, 79(1), 1-72. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/593374
Digital Visits to French National Library Archive Grow 85% Y/Y in 2010. (1/17/2011).
Corporate IT Update.
European Parliament Resolution of 6 April 2011 on a Single Market for Enterprises and Growth.
2010/2277(INI). Provisional Edition P7_TA-PROV(2011)0146. Retrieved from
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P7-TA-2011-
0146&format=XML&language=EN
France experiencing “resurgence of racism.” (2010). Telegraph (UK).
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/7939841/France-experiencing-
resurgence-of-racism.html
Herubel, J. (2005). Phoenix ascendant: French higher education and its significance for research
and learning for library, book, print, and media culture history. Libraries & Culture, 40(2), 156-
176.

                                                12
International Federation of Library Associations. (2010). French National Bibliography.
http://www.ifla.org/en/node/4858
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. History of Legal Deposit.
(2000). http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s1/gnl/chap2.htm
Johnson, B. (2011). Is France Plotting to Kill the Free Internet? Business Week. Retrieved from
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/apr2011/tc20110415_331091.htm?campaign_
id=rss_topStories
Martindale-Hubbell European Law Digests. 1 France Law Digest 17.01. (2010).


Member States of the European Union: France. (2011).
http://europa.eu/abc/european_countries/eu_members/france/index_en.htm
Rovisco, M. (2010). One Europe or Several Europes? The cultural logic of narratives of Europe
– views from France and Britain. Social Science Information, 49(2), 241-266. Retrieved from
http://ssi.sagepub.com/content/49/2/241
United States Department of State. (2010). Background Note: France.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3842.htm




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