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Not just a doodle: A Brief Intro to the Law of Culture and Art

Nations and Laws build themselves on art and thousands of countries take pride in being able to be carekeepers of great cultural pieces that define an artistic heritage from paintings such as the Mona Lisa to even wreckage of ships such as the RMS Titanic. Considered national treasures, these priceless pieces have to be protected and oftentimes, strict policies are in place to ensure that priceless pieces of heritage aren't devalued or even insulted.


These policies are considered, in broad topic, to be a category of law called "art and culture heritage laws", which focuses on the “movable and immovable property of artistic, cultural, religious and historic interest” and extends from archaeology, ancient monuments, and ensures the safety of national heritage, as well as determining the fiscal and social preservation of art. Art and Culture Laws not only demonstrate a country's dedication to their own unique culture and personality, but humanity's dedication to preserving their generational heritage and history and leaving something priceless for future posterities.


Art law is unique in that it envelops a field involving concerns of private property, commercial transactions, laws of property rooted ranging from private, public, and international law. The field of art and cultural heritage law places rules on the creation, ownership, value, and transaction of art. Yet what considers art valuable enough to be protected by private, public, and international law? What differentiates the value of "cultural heritage" from your regular day-to-day sketches?


A piece of cultural and art work is only considered to be an "heritage” when it symbolizes a piece of history that will allow different communities to explore and make

connections with their past. It also allows mankind to learn from its past and be able to hold onto it as a tribute to its development. Unlike other aspects of law that revolve around politics, monetary concerns, art is protected by our legal system simply because it holds cultures and souls of community intact. This is ever more imperative when considering thousands of cultures that might have been lost to wartimes, colonizations, and works to give humanity its richness.


So who determines whether or not art is valuable enough to be considered a treasure? Currently, UNESCO, (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) aims to promote world peace and cooperation by centering itself on education arts and sciences and selects a site to be considered a part of human heritage when it represent a masterpiece of human creative genius, meets observations on how they work well in terms of biological and ecological evolution, and contains superlative beauty and aesthetics. When confirmed under this process, the UNESCO agency guarantees protection by international law, as was the case when the RMS Titanic was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List thus guaranteeing it protection under the Archeological Protection Act. Being under the UNESCO legal protection allows protection that is ensured to the highest form of work and sites.



Image: Tourists may start visiting the wreck of the Titanic for a fee of $125,000


Art is considered what is known as intellectual property "legal protections for certain work products. There are four main categories of intellectual property: copyright, trademark, patent, and trade secret” and yet, under the legal system, artists are met with a challenge to protect and create a unique enforcement of something of cultural value that allows humanity to preserve something soulful for the next generations.


Art is so valuable that a mere misunderstanding concerning artistic artifacts has often led to what Columbia Law School has called "International Cultural Heritage Issues" which has been successfully combated in the past by policies in which U.S. museums have entered into negotiations with foreign states to settle disputes concerning objects which had been claimed to be illegally taken. This was followed closely by the United States Archaeological Resources such as the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, something that is significant when applicable to domestic archaeological material and cultural heritage, especially among indigenous people in the United States.


Ultimately, the Law of culture and art not only suggests emphasis on the mere legal US system, but is illustrate of how each generation has an obligation to preserve something that is more than a doodle both within the private, public, and international

sphere.




Work Cited

“Art & Cultural Heritage Law Research Guide: Introduction." Research Guides, https://guides.law.fsu.edu/art#:-:text=The%20field%20of%20art%20and%20cult ural%20heritage%20law,preservation%2C%20public%20and%20private%20internation al%20law%2C%20and%20litigation.?adlt=strict&toWww=1&redig=61D94674BD444677 B90826E50FB12050.


Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "The Criteria for Selection." UNESCO World Heritage Centre,


https://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/#:-:text=Selection%20criteria%20%281%29%20to%2 Orepresent%20a%20masterpiece%20of,or%20technology%2C%20monumental%20arts %2C%20town-planning%200r%20landscape%20design%3B?adlt=strict&to Www=1&red ig=21AAD3279319441986759ECD9685964F.

"UNESCO history". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 9 April 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010

"S. Art, Cultural Heritage and the Law.” Columbia Law School,


https://www.law.columbia.edu/academics/courses/29400?adlt=strict&toWww=1&redig=5 654B842D04D4038A919D68D79CD9861.

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