According to a collectors' blog, there was a talk today at the George Washington Law School in Washington by Charles Cronin (University of Southern California Law School) on "the intersection between Cultural Property and Intellectual Property law" with his proposal on how cultural property claims can be resolved. Apparently his thesis is as follows:
If we were to perceive cultural artifacts fundamentally as works of information rather than of tangible property, the location of the original instantiations of them would be of little significance. 3D technologies might soon permit source nations to retain the essential intellectual value of cultural artifacts found within their borders, while simultaneously capitalizing upon sales of the originals to collectors who will pay for their “aura”.The thing is he's talking about elements of tangible property and their intangible values, which is nothing to do with "intellectual property". I fail to see why it is source nations which have to keep the tangibles and the foreign collectors reserve for themselves the benefits of the intangibles. Surely the intangible values are what is the essence of an antiquity? But why can not US coin collectors use accurate 3d printouts or other forms of data visualisation for their "studies" instead of collecting imported decontextualised originals?