Saturday, December 29, 2007

More re Egypt to copyright antiquities

From the emails I have been receiving, and the sheer number of newspapers and online news services that have run with this story and commented upon it, the idea of the possible introduction of this new law has done little more than estrange people world wide. Whilst there is often considerable sympathy with Egypt's attempts to repatriate artefacts taken from the country illegally, there has been nothing even faintly resembling a positive reaction to the copyright law. Those who aren't deriding it are simply perplexed at how it could be enforced. Even a formidably qualified copyright counsel, William Patry, who has advised Egypt on copyright issues in the past, is unable to see how the law could be enforced in other countries.

Time (Richard Lacayo)

My question: Can you copyright ancient monuments that have no known architect? The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works provides a mechanism to extend protection to the "authors" of works of architecture. Some sculptural monuments by identifiable artists have copyrights. The Statue of Liberty — by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi — has had one since 1876, ten years before it was dedicated in New York harbor. And though the Eiffel Tower has been in the public domain for years, its night time image is not. Its decorative electric light display is copyrighted, which effectively copyrights the tower at night, so commercial photographers have to pay a fee to take its picture once the lights are on.

But I'm not aware of any ancient monument subject to copyright protection, and I'm wondering if a copyright claim on the pyramids would be one that other nations would be obliged to recognize.

Chatham Daily News

It's hard to imagine Canada trying to copyright our horseshoe side of the Niagara Falls. Laughable even.

Yet Egypt is planning to pass a law to copyright its Wonders of the World and other key identifiable aspects of its ancient history, everything from the pyramids to the Sphinx.

If the law passes, Egypt would seek royalties whenever one of its ancient monuments is reproduced. . . . .

In reality, Hawass' law will have little teeth. Exact replicas will be few and far between. But it could placate Egyptian voters after a newspaper published an article calling on the Luxor hotel to send royalties to the Egyptian city of the same name.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hawass is becoming a "joke".

Does this mean that you can't publish pictures on your site?

Oh, my, I have Tuts buriel chamber on my desktop. Does that mean that I have to pay for it? I don't think it's going to happen.

This man needs a hobby. Or maybe a net!