Book review: Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Cultural Heritage

This is a review of Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Cultural Heritage, edited by Irini Stamatoudi, Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Cultural Heritage Law at the University of Nicosia. In the introduction, Stamatoudi explains that the aim of the book is to explore the intersection between intellectual property rights and cultural heritage from a variety of angles and perspectives. 

The intersection between IP and cultural heritage…is not only complex, but also sensitive, as it involves issues of morality, ethics and public policy.

The edited collection does this through 29 chapters from an impressive list of contributors: Leila A. Amineddoleh, Pedro Henrique D. Batista, Michael Blakeney, Enrico Bonadio, Mira Burri, Suelen Carls, Theodoros Chiou, Charles Cronin, Debbie De Girolamo, Benjamin Farrand, Arina Gorbatyuk, Reto M. Hilty, Andrzej Jakubowski, Marie-Christine Janssens, Bernd Justin Jütte, Stavroula Karapapa, Jessica C. Lai, Marina Markellou, Zoi Mavroskoti, Pinar Oruç, Sonsoles Pajares Rivas, Rina Elster Pantalony, Maria-Daphne Papadopoulou, Neethu Rajam, Konstantinos Roussos, Jens Schovsbo, Hanna Schreiber, Maria G. Sinanidou, Irini Stamatoudi, Simon Stokes, Uma Suthersanen, Alina Trapova, Paul Torremans, Charlotte Waelde, Marc Weber, Julia Wildgans, and Peter K. Yu. 


The book is presented in three main parts. Part 1 covers IP Protection for Cultural Heritage, Part 2 deals with the policy and politics related issues associated with the protection of cultural heritage by IP, and Part 3 explores special issues pertaining to the role and function of cultural institutions. To give you a flavour of what each section contains, I have selected a few chapters that caught my eye to mention. 

In the first chapter, Irini Stamatoudi sets out to explain the overlaps and clashes between IP and cultural heritage law. It provides the reader with a useful primer for the subsequent chapters on the basic notions of IP and cultural heritage. It points out that these two fields have much in common, but their perspectives and philosophies differ; stating that IP emphasises proprietary rights in the context of trade and commercialization, taking into account public policy as well as ethical and moral issues, whereas cultural heritage has as a starting point public policy, preservation and humanitarian aspects. IP subject matter can qualify as cultural heritage in certain circumstances, and cultural heritage subject matter may use IP as a vehicle to serve its aims.  

Further on in Part 1, in chapter 13 – Copyright Ownership Challenge Arising From AI-Generated Works of Art: A Time to Stand and Stare – Theodoros Chiou argues that whilst cultural heritage represents the past and AI-generated works of art represent the future of human creative production, and eventually AI-generated works will form the cultural heritage of the future. The chapter then explores whether AI can produce copyrightable works, and if so, who would be the owner of such rights? The answer provided being, as one might suspect, it depends… but nevertheless emphasises the opportunity that these challenges offer:

AI challenges shall thus be seen as an opportunity to globally reiterate and enhance the human-centric approach of copyright law, by prioritizing the satisfaction of the human author’s interests over the mere desirability of privatization of AI-generated works under any circumstances, so that copyright law remains the author’s right in the 21st century and beyond

In Part 2, chapter 14 by Maria-Daphne Papadopoulou and Maria G. Sinanidou is titled States’ Discretion to Classify IP Subject Matter as National Cultural Treasures. It explores the relationship between the national treasures exception and the right to private property. Where a state classifies a public domain work as a national treasure there would be no issue. However, if the work was still protected under copyright this would be an invasion into the private sphere of a rightsholder, deeming the recognition of a national treasure a deprivation. As such, the authors argue that the protective regime applying to property owners in the case of deprivation under which they are entitled to fair compensation should also be applicable to IP rightsholders. Recognising that, whilst this excludes to a significant extent IP-protected content from the states’ discretion to classify their own national treasures, “a fair balance must always be achieved, irrespective of the challenging path we have to follow in order to succeed.”

In the conclusion, Stamatoudi reflects on what the collection offers: “This multitude of subjects – varying from museum collections of antiquities, intangible cultural heritage and indigenous communities to street art, video games and artificial intelligence – came together to form the puzzle of the intersection between CH and IP with a clear aim in mind: not just to make us wise, but mostly to make us watch out for the days to come…”

This book will appeal to readers with an interest in the intersection between intellectual property and cultural heritage, particularly researchers, policy makers, and practitioners whose work touches on these themes. 

Publisher: Edward Elgar

ISBN: 978 1 80037 690 8 

Extent: 640

Book review: Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Cultural Heritage Book review: Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Cultural Heritage Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 Rating: 5

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