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British Museum blocks oil platform rescue operation because of Elgin Marbles connection

In 2010, the use of golf balls [1] were one of the highly publicised techniques used to try & plug the leak of the BP [2]‘s Deepwater Horizon [3] oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Following the gas leak [4] that started a week ago on Total [5]‘s Elgin platform in the North Sea, it has been proposed that similar methods are used.

Apparently, due to the far lower density of gas compared to crude oil, golf balls would not be suitable for such a procedure & it has been suggested that instead something much smaller should be used, such as glass or stone marbles. Sources at Total have however indicated that they have decided against trying this method, due to threats of legal action from the British Museum, which holds the copyright on the term Elgin Marbles [6].

In a carefully worded statement, Henna Biltong from the the British Museum’s press department [7] noted that “While the term Elgin Marbles has not yet specifically been used in relation to the proposed operation to shut off the gas leak, it is felt likely that the press would pick up on the congruence of the terms & start using that term to describe it.” they also pointed out that while they no longer use the term Elgin Marbles to describe the sculptures in their collection, they still hold the sole usage rights to this term. They also feel that overuse of the phrase will weaken the British Museum’s brand within the glocal marketplace. “Its a similar situation to when to google becomes a generic term for searching [8], or when biro becomes used to describe any rollerball pen, only in this case the effect [9] works in reverse”.

Once again, this seems to be a case of the British Museum acting against the public interest, and being deliberately obstructive [10]. Some experts in the art world have suggested that the threats of legal action stem from animosity with Total, because it is a French company & that during the nineteenth century, many of the best artefacts ended up being taken by Napoleon [11] (and are now held in the Louvre’s collection), before the English had a chance to get there. There is also speculation that the British Museum is hoping to increase its income through charging royalties for such copyrighted terms, following government funding cuts in the last year.

Experts in constitutional affairs have also suggested that the museum could well be worried by the impact of proposed Scottish devolution plans [12] & may be trying to re-brand itself as an English rather than British Museum. Such a move would be weakened by any events that might remind people of the Scottish connections of some of the artefacts in their collection.

The British Museum has declined to comment further on the issue.

As April 1st has now passed, it must be pointed out that most of the story above is entirely fictional, although many bits of it are inspired by facts.