Wednesday 20 March 2013

IFAR’s Art /Cultural Property Law Database

The so-called International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR)
500 Fifth Avenue, just above the Zara shop, NY 10110 has made some changes in its Art Law/Cultural Property Database. This was launched on their website – – in December 2008, and was originally intended as a free resource, supported with grants from several  foundations and agencies. They have just announced that the organization "is moving to a modest fee-based model starting in March. The Database will be accessible through annual subscriptions for individuals and institutions, and also on an hourly basis. The annual subscription cost for individual users will be $250". Well, I expect if you are a collector of Greek vases at several thousand dollars a shot (or one of their lawyers with a nice Long Island house), a subscription of 250 dollars may seem "modest". If however you need to look up odd pieces of legislation from time to time - such as what the cultural property laws of Poland say about metal detecting - this is a bit of a dead loss. As for the Polish laws, don't bother, they've not got any of them. When you registered with them as they asked, you kept getting irritating repeat emails - of which the one announcing this is the latest. And do not bother clicking, when they say "in March" it means effective from now rather than in the next few days. 
We hope you will understand our reluctant decision to begin charging for access, with the goal of creating a financially sustainable and stronger legal research tool. 
Those of us who understand that it is easier to charge users than find sponsorship in the uninterested art trade for example also know there is a parallel open access resource which is fuller, contains material supplied for public information and truly non-profit  by the nations concerned and at the moment access is free. It's on the UNESCO webpage.

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