Copyright and Cultural Heritage

Copyright and Cultural Heritage

Preservation and Access to Works in a Digital World

Edited by Estelle Derclaye

Thanks to digitisation and the Internet, preservation of and access to our cultural heritage – which consists of works protected by copyright and works in the public domain – have never been easier. This essential book examines the twin issues of the preservation of, and access to, cultural heritage and the problems copyright law creates and the solutions it can at the same time provide. The expert contributors explore the extent to which current copyright laws from Europe and beyond prevent or help the constitution of a centralized online repository of our cultural heritage. Provided legal reform is achieved and the additional financial and organisational hurdles are overcome, this work argues that it should be possible to fulfill the dream of an online Alexandrian library.


Estelle Derclaye

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, intellectual property law


Estelle Derclaye This book is the result and prolongation of a conference I organized in March 2009 and which bore the title ‘Preserving and accessing our cultural heritage – the role of copyright law, digitisation and the Internet’. It has grown into an even fuller picture including contributions not only from European scholars but from abroad. The idea behind the conference was to explore how to improve the preservation of and access to our cultural heritage. Why? First, it is near impossible to deny the importance of the safeguard of and access to cultural heritage for any country and for the world at large. It reflects a country’s intellectual and economic wealth. It ensures that a people’s memory is kept alive and thus preserves a country’s history, which in turn helps to ensure the avoidance of past mistakes and unnecessary duplications, the progress of education, of science and knowledge, the maintenance of cultural diversity, the mutual understanding between peoples and, hopefully, peace. It also helps increase personal development and sustainable development, all sorts of benefits to humankind but also to all living beings and the planet. Of course this is an idealistic view; not everyone is interested in history or in art and some individuals will never be bothered to learn more about another’s culture. However, it is indispensable to conserve our cultural heritage and make it as widely available as possible, especially in schools, to enable these goals. Second, it has become trivial to say that, in this digital age,...