9 Nov 2013
Global Cultural Law and Policy in the Internet Age
A presentation at the international Symposium in Honour of Prof. John Henry Merryman, Stanford Law School, 8-9 November 2013
Digital technologies and the internet in particular have transformed the ways we create, distribute, use, re-use and consume cultural content; have impacted on the workings of the cultural industries, and more generally on the processes of making, experiencing and remembering culture in local and global spaces. Yet, few of these, often profound, transformations have found reflection in law and institutional design. Cultural policy toolkits, in particular at the international level, are still very much offline/analogue and conceiving of culture as static property linked to national sovereignty and state boundaries. The paper sketches this state of affairs and asks the key question of whether there is a need to reform global cultural law and policy and if yes, what the essential elements of such a reform should be. The paper will be informed by the ongoing and vibrant digital copyright and creativity discourse but seeks to address the less discussed non-IP tools of the cultural policy package. It will also thematize the complexity and the interconnectedness of different fields of policy-making, as most critical to cultural processes decisions are not made by cultural institutions and indeed those institutions, mostly economically biased, that take action are utterly ignorant of cultural policy objectives. While this duality of cultural goods and services is not new, the digital networked environment has only accentuated complexity, spillover effects and unintended consequences. The question is how to navigate this newly created and profoundly fluid space, so as to ensure the preservation and sustainable provision of culture. The paper hopes to contribute to the process of finding answers to this taxing question.