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The Cultural Industries: a Clash of Basic Values? A Comparative Study of the EU and the NAFTA in the Light of the WTO

Author(s): Rostam J. Neuwirth

Journal: European Diversity and Autonomy Papers - EDAP
ISSN 1827-8361

Issue: 4;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2004;
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Keywords: Cultural Industries | North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) | European Union (EU) | World Trade Organization (WTO) | Culture | Trade | Trade Linkage Debate | Constitutionalisation | Legal Theory

Originally coined in the 1940s by protagonists of the Frankfurt School, the concept of ‘culture industry’ was gradually transformed from a derogatory term into the potentially more constructive concept ‘cultural industries’ in the context of the global culture and trade debate. The present article uses three paintings by the Belgian painter René Magritte to visually outline the framework of the conceptual and perceptive challenges, which were introduced by the various technological innovations underlying the various sectors embraced by the cultural industries and highlights some of the consequences these entail for the regulation of international trade. In particular, two legal precedents concerning the periodicals industry –involving, on the one hand, the EU and, on the other hand, the NAFTA and the WTO – are used to highlight the potential for a clash between cultural and commercial considerations as they are conceptually combined in the cultural industries. For the sake of greater clarity it is shown that in the overall regulatory process such a clash can occur either at the level of the legal idea, or the legal norm, or the legal decision. The article concludes by emphasising the need for a balance between cultural and commercial considerations with a view of their mutual reconciliation in the regulation of international trade, both at the global as well as the regional level.
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