Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

If anybody is an expert on the new Egyptian law relating to the copyrighting of the images of antiquities,  I'd be interested in hearing their views on its application but my present thinking is that this blog is exempt on two grounds a) it is non-commercial, and b) it is educational.  It's a good job as otherwise I'd be having to delete all photographs on old posts because I believe the new law is retrospective in application ie it applies to old images as well as new ones.

So far I can find no legal commentary on the law but those I have read which were drafted before it passed seem to suggest that courts in the UK and USA probably wouldn't uphold the new Egyptian copyright law anyway as it goes beyond the Berne Convention.  I've added the Berne Convention to my reading list.  If that's the case, than I'd expect quite a few sites about Egypt to ban access from Egyptian IP addresses so that Egyptian courts have no nexus. If that happens it'll be very unfortunate that Egyptians are blocked from reading about thier herirtage but it shows the potential unintended consquences of bad laws - and in terms of international intellectual property rights this is a bad law.    It's certainly a topic I'll follow to see what the lawyers make of it.

Hopefully the SCA will set up a clearance system so that quality sites (like this one and the new magazine site Andie and I are working on) can get a blanket exemption.  At present the law is an unwanted stress for anybody who is writing about Ancient Egypt.

And if anybody is usure why I think it is a bad law then consider this.  Since ownership of the Nefertiti bust is contested, the new law would extend to images of the bust even though it is housed outside Europe.  That means a newspaper reporting on the question of ownership which showed a photo of the bust would need the permission of the SCA.

(As a moan, one thing I hate about blogging is that potentially it is affected by every country's laws, not just Britain's.  So although I am not American I still need to consider the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Equally of course anybody writing from America needs to understand European law.)

PS My present assessment is that the online magazine which Andie and I are planning is also exempt.


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