The Art of the Internet

A Study of Illegal Online Trading in Cultural Goods

By Tom Van Ham, Rutger Leukfeldt, Bo Bremmers, Wouter Stol, Anton Van Wijk

In 2004, the Netherlands' Minister of Justice ordered an investigation into antique and art dealings within the framework of the 'Program to prevent organized crime.' It emerged from this investigation that Internet auctions are gaining ground compared to normal auctions. A survey carried out in 2007 by Interpol indicates an increase in illicit trafficking in cultural goods on the web. However, it is difficult to assess the precise role of the Internet within this illegal trade and the way buyers and sellers go about their business on the web. To gain better insight into the nature and scale of the trade in cultural goods on the Internet, the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science commissioned exploratory research, comprised of a literature study, interviews with experts, and an Internet search. In this book, the researchers present their findings. On two of the Netherlands' leading online trading sites, the researchers found a total of 681 objects that may have been for sale illegally. These objects originated from various continents and hail from various historic eras, for example: Roman arrow heads and pre-Columbian pottery. The monetary value of the objects on sale was generally low and the number of people trading objects illegally via these sites was limited. The research also makes clear that existing Dutch legislation is sufficient for combating illicit trafficking in cultural goods on the Internet. Nevertheless, the researchers point out a number of gaps in the monitoring and enforcement chain. Given the scale of the problem as it is revealed by this exploratory research, the consideration is whether more should be invested in combating the illicit online trafficking of cultural goods.

134 pages

Publication Date: 11/30/2011
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9789059317406