It has long been one of the staples of ancient history lessons. Rather than face the expense of a class visit to Egypt or the legal risk of mummifying a pupil, practical teachers excite their students' interest in the subject by getting them to knock up a homemade copy of a pyramid.
The results are usually fairly forgettable and the glue can take weeks to get out of the carpet, but that could soon be the least of your troubles. Henceforth, when proudly presented with your child's creation, your best move might be to put your foot right through it. The Egyptian government is preparing a law requiring royalties to be paid for any reproduction of the country's ancient monuments, and parental delight over your offspring's creativity might have to come second to the need to keep Egypt's copyright enforcers from your door.
Zahi Hawass, head of the country's Supreme Council of Antiquities, intends to make the new law apply all over the world, indicating a serious intention to hunt down that sphinx shaped bottle-opener your aunt brought back from her Mediterranean cruise. Global reach may prove a little tricky to engineer, but stranger things have happened, and if Hawass succeeds then there's no reason to think other enterprising cultural protectors won't sniff an opportunity. And then no souvenir-maker will be safe.
The age-old craft of turning out tacky versions of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa could be driven underground.
The age-old craft of turning out tacky versions of Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa could be driven underground. The use of pictures of the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum or Rio's Christ the Redeemer as backdrops will become a trick for only the most daring of film production companies. And pulling your camera out for a family snapshot of the Sydney Opera House or the Empire State Building could have the local copyright police dragging you off for a serious shakedown. But then, if you can claim copyright over something created more than 4,000 years ago by people with a completely different culture and language to your own, why stop there? The Grand Canyon may have taken a little longer to create than the pyramids, and appeared some time before any people showed up at all, but today it sits squarely in the United States, so who could complain if the Americans asserted their rights over its image? And Niagara Falls, while they're about it.
Anyone planning to knock up a relief map of the Alps might want to think twice unless they fancy some sticky proceedings involving four different countries and as many languages. Everest, Kilimanjaro and Ayers Rock could all be off-limits for photography. And what about the Northern Lights? There's more than one country that keeps an eye on them, but no doubt they could come to an arrangement to make sure visitors cough up for any birthright-stealing pictures.
But maybe we shouldn't worry just yet. The most obvious target for Egyptian royalties-hunters with the whole world to choose from must be the enormous Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. Roughly the same height as the Great Pyramid itself and with its very own Sphinx guarding the entrance, the hotel differs from the original only in offering 4,400 guest rooms and turning over a vast amount of cash every year. Rich pickings, you might think, for Hawass and his cultural protectors. But apparently not. The hotel may be in the shape of a pyramid, but the inside is different from the original – to the relief of the guests – and that, says Hawass, will exempt it from the planned law. If the Luxor Hotel can get away with it, your child's gluey construction might be safe for a little while longer.