Impact of copyright law in museums and galleries in the digital age
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The thesis explores the growing impact of copyright in art museums and galleries in the digital environment. Copyright has a great significance in these institutions but it has not received adequate academic consideration. The aim of this thesis is to examine the role of copyright and underline the foremost copyright challenges to museums and galleries in order to find out the appropriate approach to deal with them. The main argument is that copyright challenges museums and galleries to the extent it could disturb the survival of their mission in the digital domain. It argues that copyright provides insufficient protection to museums and galleries when they are copyright owners of digital and contemporary artistic works in particular. Also, it argues that copyright restricts the capacity of using artistic works by museums and galleries as cultural institutions and therefore it obstructs their activities and mission. Further, it argues that uncertain and deficient copyright policy and management practices represent impediment to the continuity and progress of museums and galleries in the digital era. To this effect, the thesis takes analytical approach and considers the legal primary and secondary resources of relevant laws, cases, academic commentary and journal articles. The legal framework is focused on copyright law of the United Kingdom as stated in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and its amendments. Furthermore, the thesis incorporates a review of an empirical study about the impact of copyright in museums and galleries and which is undertaken for this research purposes. The thesis concludes that it is necessary to deal with the specified copyright challenges in a way that maintains and promotes the mission of museums and galleries and facilitates a broader public access to their collections in the digital environment. In order to achieve this, it is recommended that some copyright law reform is needed concerning in particular copyright protection of artistic works and copyright exceptions available to museums and galleries for specific purposes such as preservation, research, and education. Also, it is proposed that museums and galleries require enhanced understanding of copyright law, more awareness, careful consideration and efficient management of copyright.