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 In the not so distant past, the role of libraries, archives and museums was to allow people to come and see their collections physically and to preserve them for the public to be able to do that. But now in the twentyfirst century, people understandably (also) wish to access cultural heritage from their computer.1 And we should see this as an intrinsically good thing as it means people have a growing appetite to learn about their culture and history. Granting more access to cultural heritage can only increase knowledge and, with it, understanding among people. What to draw from the reflections made in this book? Is a global digital database of cultural heritage possible? Yes and as we saw, there are already initiatives in this respect. First, we do not need only a register, that is, a list of information about works, but a full-blown database, a repository of works. It goes without saying that it must be as comprehensive as possible, as already pointed out in the introduction. Thus it has to go further than books, so further than Google Book Search and similar projects and be more like the World’s Digital Library or Europeana in terms of breadth. As Tanya Aplin rightly says at the beginning of her chapter, the challenges are financial, organizational, technical and legal. The book mainly focused on the legal challenges. Let us say a bit more about the other challenges before recapitulating and adding further comments on the legal ones. While...

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