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Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with Minister of Culture

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #0724/01 1840921
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020921Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5015

UNCLAS MADRID 000724

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/OHI (JKENNEDY;JBECKER)
STATE FOR EEB/IPE (JURBAN)
STATE FOR EUR/WE, OES, L/OES
STATE PASS USTR (DWEINER)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD KIPR PBTS PHSA SCUL SP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH MINISTER OF CULTURE

1. (U) Summary: Ambassador met with Minister of Culture Cesar
Antonio Molina on 6/30/08. The minister told the Ambassador
that he was willing to meet with the claimant or his
representative in a Nazi art loot case. The minister
emphasized he was willing to continue to fight intellectual
property rights (IPR) piracy. He was also clearly following
the Odyssey case closely and made it clear that the GOS would
exercise all of its legal options. The minister discussed
cultural cooperation with the U.S. as well. End Summary

PARTICIPANTS
------------

2. (U) The minister was accompanied by Cultural Industries
Policy Director General Guillermo Corral van Damme. The
Ambassador was accompanied by EconOff.

CASSIRER CLAIM
--------------

3. (U) The Ambassador stressed the USG's interest in direct
discussions between the Spanish government and Claude
Cassirer, the AmCit claimant of a painting by Camille Pisarro
("Rue St. Honore") in the Thyssen Museum. The Ambassador
noted also that while the Odyssey and Cassirer claim were on
separate legal tracks, it was in both governments' interest
to avail themselves of whatever margin for manuever they had,
consistent with their legal obligations, to resolve both
matters in a way that favored the bilateral relationship.
The minister listened carefully to the Ambassador's message,
but he put the accent on the separateness of the issues.
Molina said that no Spanish government could return the
painting (if this is what the claimant wants). To begin
with, while the minister presides over the board that manages
the Thyssen Museum's collection, the minister could not
oblige the board to return the painting without a (Spanish)
legal judgment. The minister added that paying compensation,
as the British government has reportedly done in a number of
cases, also posed legal problems. Director General van Damme
said, however, that perhaps the Spanish government had
"sinned" (pecado) in not meeting with the claimant or his
representative. The minister said that he was willing to
meet with the claimant or his representative in connection
with a trip to Washington, D.C. in September or October this
year.

IPR
---

4. (U) The minister emphasized that he remains committed to
fighting piracy. He said that on July 10, he would preside
over the Spanish government's inter-ministerial anti-piracy
coordinating body. Van Damme said that this meeting would
serve to "relaunch efforts" to fight piracy. The Ambassador
noted that the USG had waited a number of years to place
Spain on the Special 301 Watch List, but that this year,
continued alarming internet piracy levels had precipitated
the Watch List decision. Having said that, the Ambassador
also praised recent vigorous enforcement actions, for
instance the arrests of 32 suspected Chinese DVD and CD
pirates. The Ambassador noted that the subsequent press
conference, in which the minister said that Spaniards should
not buy pirated products because such products harmed
culture, was especially significant. Both the minister and
director general emphasized the importance of the internet.
Van Damme said it was especially important to create
attractive business models for selling content on-line. The
Ambassador suggested that the minister meet with IPR and
internet service provider representatives when he travels to
Washington this fall, and he agreed to do so.

ODYSSEY
-------

5. (U) The minister explained that one of the reasons for his
September or October Washington trip was to meet with the law
firm the Spanish government has retained in the Odyssey case.
The minister added that he was following the court
proceedings in Tampa, Florida closely. He expressed
indignation at a recent CNN interview of Odyssey CEO Greg
Stemm who indicated that he would be willing to keep the gold
coins found at the salvage site and return items of purely
archeological interest. The Ambassador explained that the
USG was cognizant of its international law responsibilities
in these kinds of salvage cases and that American government
lawyers would study carefully the legal implications and
obligations arising from the Tampa court's decisions.

CULTURAL COOPERATION
--------------------

6. (U) The minister and the director general expressed great
enthusiasm for cultural cooperation with the U.S. in general
and Washington, D.C. in particular. With respect to
Washington, for instance, the minister talked about Spanish
support for an exhibition of 1970s and 80s art. He also
talked about a more ambitious project, a "museum of "Latin"
art (not clear where this would be, but he did talk about a
"museum", not just a one-off exhibit). This would be separate
from Ambassador Westendorp's (Spain's ambassador to the U.S.)
idea of using the former Spanish Ambassador's residence in
the Washington for some form of cultural repository.

COMMENT
-------

7. (U) The minister's expressed willingness to meet with
Claude Cassirer or his representative is a modest step
forward. We will remind the minister of this commitment whem
he finalizes his Washington travel plans. With respect to
IPR, we think the minister is sincere in his desire to combat
piracy. Our challenge as an Embassy is to find ways to
convince the GOS and stakeholders (especially the ISPs) that
action against internet piracy cannot be held hostage to the
mantra that "new business models" are required in this area.
They certainly are necessary and desirable (both for ISPs and
content providers). However, action against piracy may, in
some cases, be necessary to make those models feasible.

AGUIRRE

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