An international cultural exception?
EMI's record - in more ways than one - £1.75 billion loss raises important questions. There is now a real possibility that the company will breach its loan agreements at the end of March, causing control to pass to financial conglomerate Citigroup. Which means many of the great classical (and rock) recordings of the 20th century could be in the hands of American bankers. This may only be marginally worse than leaving them with EMI's current owner Guy Hands, but it is, nevertheless, a terrifying prospect.
English Heritage operates an invaluable listed buildings scheme which recognises that -
From Stonehenge to the mills of the Industrial Revolution, and from Norman castles to the site of the first TV transmission: in each generation, a small number of exceptional places mark and celebrate human architectural achievement, define an era, mark an important struggle or push new ideas to the limit. It is appropriate and necessary to make careful decisions about the future of these places and their protection.Internationally UNESCO World Heritage acknowledges that -
Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.English Heritage and UNESCO have established the principle of protecting great physical properties for future generations. EMI's current predicament will surely be mirrored by other businesses trading in intellectual properties. Are we prepared to see the master tapes of Jacqueline du Pré's Elgar Cello Concerto, Karajan's great opera interpretations and countless other 'irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration' thrown in the trash can by the bankers together with their cashed bonus cheques? Or should we not be protecting great intellectual properties from the ravages of the free market and safeguarding them for future generations by establishing some form of international cultural exception?
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