Saturday, 1 August 2009

Traditional Knowldege - Aladdin's lessons?

Two recent articles reveal the difficulties in finding a workable solution for protecting traditional knowledge. RSA's attempt (in its "Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill" - which aims to use forms of existing intellectual property legislation such as trademarks, copyrights, geographical indications, designs and patents to protect indigenous culture) is slammed (again) by critics in this Mail and Guardian article, which itself has generated comment. Meanwhile Kenya's Maasai have linked up with WIPO in an interesting recording project which uses Apple technology and recording lable Putumayo to create a digital library which will rely on copyright for the protection of certain aspects of traditional knowledge(see article here). Afro Leo's three year old son explains the difficulties trying to harness something from the public domain and then using established IP principles to protect it:

Afro Leo: why cant Genie protect anymore?

3 year old: because Genie got out of the lamp

Afro Leo: well put Genie back in the lamp then!

3 year old: don't be silly [you fool]... Genie can't go back into lamp!

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