'Valued' in the 'West', Sold in the 'East' | Steve Sabella | Contemporary Practices

Volume V, 2009

In addition to copyrights, artists also benefit from moral rights which derive from the international intellectual property conventions (Berne Convention for the Protection of Literacy and Artistic Works).1 Moral rights aim to protect the artist’s honour, integrity and reputation, and they are considered a special law of artistic defamation. Countries adopting the law give artists or their estates and heirs, the right to be identified as author, to claim or deny authorship and object to ‘derogato- ry treatment’ of the work when shown in public.2 Practically, this means that people should be aware if they are breaking the law, in accordance with the above, when they change, alter, delete or add to artworks or forget to credit them. Indirectly, even though moral rights are not about national patrimony, they do in fact help to protect artworks that might eventually become considered as such. Moral rights clearly highlight the ethical attributes in protecting works of art and their creators. Scholars have observed that, “protection of an artist’s moral rights can simultaneously implement the society’s interest in protecting its artistic heritage”.3 The ‘art boom’ of galleries, auction houses, and museums in what is referred to as the ‘Middle East’ is necessary to develop the art infrastructures and add economic value to artworks, but is it taking into consideration the welfare of the artist?
Who is Validating Art in the ‘Middle East’?

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