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Article 15(1)(a) of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights—a source of binding law in 160 countries—recognizes “the right of everyone to take part in cultural life.” This provision, however, has so far been little interpreted. This essay suggests how lawmakers and jurists might give meaning to the right to take part in cultural life, with particular attention to issues arising in an age of digital culture. The authors conclude that the right to take part in cultural life should be understood in terms of the ability to access, enjoy, engage, and extend upon a common cultural inheritance and that realizing this right will require significant reforms in international intellectual property law.

Date of Authorship for this Version

Summer 8-13-2009