Thursday, December 27, 2007

Egypt retroactively copyrights antiquities

The BBC is reporting that Egypt is expected to pass a law granting copyright status to full-scale replicas of any object in any museum in Egypt. The copyright holder will apparently be Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Although Zahi Hawass told the BBC that the new law will apply to all countries, this seems unlikely. International copyright law is based on the Berne Convention. Article 18 says that the Convention only applies to works which were not in public domain when the treaty came into force. So new laws retroactively copyrighting the pyramid will not work. But suppose that Iraq, which is currently not a signer of Berne, got its act together and joined the WTO. It would have to respect the laws in place at signing, including this odd new Egyptian law.

I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps some other law or treaty would make this enforceable in the US.

I think this is a silly law, but Egypt has not asked my opinion. I suspect it would apply to replicas of any coins in any museum in Egypt. (It seems like it would be easy to get around it, by making 99% or 101% scale copies.)

1 comment:

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