Monday, December 31, 2007

Is Hawass Joking?

This item showed up in some news briefs at Artform International News Digest: COPYRIGHT FOR PYRAMIDS? Egypt may soon seek to protect its pyramids from fakes and copies. As the APA reports, the Egyptian government hopes to introduce a special form of copyright for the pyramids as well as other ancient sites. According to the new legislation, which may soon become law, the Egyptian government would have the right to collect a tax for all copies of the pyramids, the Sphinx, and other sites. The new law, which is intended to have international jurisdiction, would allow the Egyptian state to collect funds for the upkeep of these sites. "Egypt alone has the right to reproduce its monuments from antiquity," said Zahi Hawass, the director of the antiquities administration. Hawass added that artists—both Egyptian and foreign—would continue to enjoy the privilege of "being inspired" by the country's cultural treasures for their own works. The only clause is that these artistic inspirations cannot result in "exact copies." A cultural war seems to be on the horizon. After the announcement was made, the Egyptian newspaper El Wafd made a public request to Las Vegas's Luxor Hotel and Casino complex, which features duplicates of the Valley of the Kings, to give part of its profits back to the Egyptian city Luxor, where the original valley is located. "Thirty-five million tourists come every year to Las Vegas to see the reproduction of Luxor," the newspaper stated, according to the APA. "Only six million visit the real Luxor." According to Hawass, the Vegas Hotel will not be required to pay royalties under the new law, despite the fact that its website advertises "the only pyramid shaped building in the world." Hawass claims that the hotel is neither "an exact copy of the pyramids," nor does its interior share any similarities with those of the pharaohs' burial sites.

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