Deadline: 25.02.2022

Towards Digitization of Cultural Practices and Contents

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. Deadline: February 25, 2022

Guest Editors: Marie-Sophie de Clippele & Anne Wagner

It is often claimed that developing a digital strategy to improve access to and participation in
culture and cultural heritage increases democratization and citizens’ sense of collective
belonging. As a result, and particularly in the COVID-19 context, many cultural institutions,
both public and private, have accelerated the development of tools for accessing and digitally
disseminating their cultural content: online access to collections, visits to museums or 3D
virtual sites, visits to entirely online exhibitions, online access to cultural and musical
performances, reading of tales via video... Furthermore, participatory digital cultural practices
have also increased exponentially to integrate users in the creation, use and transmission of
culture and cultural heritage (methods of crowd sourcing, storytelling, citizen science...),
notably through digital tools linked to artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

However, this digital craze, already underway before the pandemic, is not without legal
difficulties, particularly in the field of intellectual property and data protection, and also raises
ethical questions. With the dematerialization of cultural practices and content some legal
principles can constitute obstacles, while others can facilitate digitization and access to such
content and practices. Both mechanisms in public law – legislation and case law ensuring a
balance between rights and interests, such as those of the author, the owner, the user, the
personal data subject or controller; participatory governance measures; development of direct
and indirect cultural policies... – , as well as tools in private law – licence contracts; property
rights; control and access mechanisms such as Digital Rights Management (DRM); legal
governance models and structures, etc. – must be examined for an inclusive access to
dematerialized cultural practices and content. Nevertheless, the notion of access itself should
be examined, including from an ethical point of view: the desire to grant universal access to
certain dematerialized cultural content may come up against certain rights and interests,
particularly those of the communities of origin, a fortiori when it comes to digitizing sacred
objects. Following a decolonial approach to the concepts of access and dematerialization,
thought should be given to the inclusion of these communities in the digitization process as
well as in the access policies of these digital contents.

The aim of this Special Issue is therefore to question the dematerialization movement from a
legal point of view, by asking within what limits, under what conditions and with what
legal tools cultural practices and contents can develop in the context of digitization of
cultural practices and contents.


Please send your abstract of 500 words (max.) to Marie-Sophie DE CLIPPELE (marie- by 25 February 2022 with decisions made by 25 March
2022. Papers should be no longer than 15,000 words. The deadline for submitting full papers
is 25 August 2022.

Further Information (Link)