Copyright and Cultural Heritage
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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.
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Chapter 1: A Global Digital Register for the Preservation and Access to Cultural Heritage: Problems, Challenges and Possibilities

Tanya Aplin


Tanya Aplin INTRODUCTION 1. The importance of preserving and providing access to cultural heritage seems so self-evident as to require no justification. Nonetheless, it is worth reminding ourselves of why these goals should be pursued, not least because this undoubtedly informs our thinking about how preservation and access to cultural heritage should be achieved. John Gilchrist1 pithily explains why it is vital to preserve, and to make readily accessible, cultural heritage. He writes: The past is a part of us. It is inherent in all artistic, social, economic, scientific and intellectual development. It is important that future generations have access to, and understand, the past, to better understand themselves and to better deal with the future. In cultures based on written records, the greater proportion of material which is not preserved, the less likely that value will be respected and promoted.2 In other words, cultural heritage may be viewed as crucial to our present and future ability to engage in a variety of spheres, including the political, intellectual, cultural and economic. In the context of the digital age the importance of preservation and access to cultural heritage endures, a point which has been emphasized by the European Commission:3 1 John Gilchrist (2005), ‘Copyright deposit, legal deposit or library deposit? The Government’s role as preserver of copyright material’, Queensland University Technical Law & Justice Journal, 5, 177. 2 Gilchrist (2005), 193. 3 Communication on the Digitisation and Online Accessibility of Cultural Material and Digital Preservation, Brussels, 24.8.2006, C (2006) 3808 Final....

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