Why U.S. Federal Criminal Penalties for Dealing in Illicit Cultural Property are Ineffective, and a Pragmatic Alternative

49 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2007 Last revised: 6 Feb 2008

See all articles by Derek Fincham

Derek Fincham

South Texas College of Law Houston

Abstract

The illicit trade in cultural property may be the third largest behind narcotics and weapons. The different opinions of the various stakeholders which formulate cultural property policy are producing an ineffective regulatory framework. In many cases the discussion about what the law should be doing has prevented a discussion of the practical effect of the status quo. The current criminal penalties are not producing satisfactory results.

A pragmatic approach to cultural property has worked well in the United Kingdom, especially in England and Wales. Similar approaches could be taken in other nations of origin. This would give real effect to the federal criminal regulation of cultural property, which at present is far to easy to avoid. The art and antiquities market lacks transparency at present. Until this trade begins to effectively distinguish between licit and illicit cultural objects, the theft, looting and destruction of historical sites will surely continue.

Keywords: Art, Antiquities, Cultural Property, Cultural Heritage, Illicit Cultural Property, Criminal Law, United Kingdom, England, Wales, Portable Antiquities Scheme, Treasure Act

Suggested Citation

Fincham, Derek, Why U.S. Federal Criminal Penalties for Dealing in Illicit Cultural Property are Ineffective, and a Pragmatic Alternative. Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2, November 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=991635

Derek Fincham (Contact Author)

South Texas College of Law Houston ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States
9546678328 (Phone)

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