Source: The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk), by Rory McCarthy
Egypt is planning to pass a law that would exact royalty payments from anyone found making copies of the country's ancient monuments or museum pieces, including the pyramids.
Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said his country wanted to own the copyright to its historic monuments and would use any money raised to pay for the upkeep of its most prestigious sites.
Hawass, an outspoken figure in the usually cautious world of antiquities, said the law had been agreed by a ministerial committee and would go before parliament, where it was expected to be passed easily. It would then apply anywhere in the world, he said.
Hawass gave no explanation as to how Cairo would begin the fraught task of tackling any copyright infringements.
He said the law would apply to full-scale, precise copies of any museum objects or "commercial use" of ancient monuments, including the pyramids or the sphinx. "Even if it is for private use, they must have permission from the Egyptian government," he told the BBC.
His comments came only a few days after an Egyptian opposition newspaper, Al-Wafd, published a report complaining that many more tourists each year travelled to the pyramid-shaped Luxor hotel in Las Vegas than to Luxor itself. The newspaper proposed that the US hotel should pay some of its profits to Luxor city.
The Luxor hotel and casino boasts its own King Tut museum, which it says includes "authentic reproductions from what has been called the greatest archaeological find in the history of the world". Among the exhibits in the Las Vegas resort are reproductions of King Tutankhamun's sarcophagus as well as several statues, vases, beds, baskets and pieces of pottery from the tomb that was discovered in 1922.
However, Hawass said he did not regard the Luxor hotel as a copy of an Egyptian pyramid - the hotel's interior bore little relation to the inside of a genuine Egyptian pyramid.
He also said the law would not prevent artists from drawing images of the monuments or historic sites, as long as the images were not exact copies.
Hawass is a high-profile, self-promoting and successful fundraising emissary of his country's vast ancient heritage. He won an Emmy for broadcasting on archaeology in the US and has his own website, which shows him standing before the pyramids sporting an Indiana Jones-style hat and includes details of his "official" fan club.
In 2003 he demanded the permanent return of the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum. This year he said announced a tour of Tutankhamun artefacts, which have been to the US and Britain, would bring in $140m (£70.6m) for conservation work in Egypt.
Background: Egypt, Vegas-style
The success of the Egyptian-themed Luxor hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip may be behind the new effort in Egypt to copyright the country's ancient archaeological wealth.
The pyramid-shaped Luxor hotel stands 350 feet (107 metres) high with 4,400 rooms. As well as a casino, cinema, restaurants, shopping hall and shows, the hotel boasts its own King Tut Museum. However, the Egyptian lure seems to be fading even for Vegas - the Luxor announced in July that it was to get a new, non-Egyptian look. "The pyramid always created a sense of wow and wonder, but the inside never delivered on that promise," Luxor president Felix Rappaport said.
Las Vegas receives about 35 million visitors a year, many times more than the Egyptian city of Luxor, scene of some of the country's key archaeological sites.