WIPO to Launch Pilot Training Program for Indigenous Communities

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will launch in September 2008 a pilot program to assist indigenous communities to document their own cultural traditions, archive this heritage for future generations, and safeguard their interest in authorizing use of their recordings and traditions by third parties.

New technologies provide communities with fresh opportunities to document and digitize expressions of their traditional cultures, meeting the strong desire of communities to preserve, promote and pass on their cultural heritage to succeeding generations. Yet, these new forms of documentation and digitization can leave this cultural heritage vulnerable to unwanted exploitation beyond the traditional circle. This pilot program recognizes both the utility of technology for indigenous communities and the paramount need to empower communities to make informed decisions about how to manage intellectual property issues in a way that corresponds with community values and development goals.

Our goal is to empower tradition-bearers to preserve and pass on their own traditional cultures if they wish to do so while safeguarding their intellectual property rights and interests – Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General of WIPO

The pilot program will begin in September, 2008, when two members of a Maasai community from Laikipia, Kenya and an expert from the National Museums of Kenya will travel to the American Folklife Center (AFC) and then to the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) in the United States of America for intensive, hands-on training in documentary techniques and archival skills necessary for effective community-based cultural conservation. WIPO staff will provide intellectual property training. WIPO will also provide the Maasai with a basic kit of field equipment, computers and software for their own use when they return to Kenya.

Read the WIPO Press Release…
Read the UN Press Release…
Visit WIPO’s Creative Heritage Project…