Interviews: What Protection of Traditional Knowledge Means to Indigenous Peoples
IP Watch, 20 August 2013

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Intellectual Property Watch conducted interviews with different indigenous groups attending the 15-24 July 2013 session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). It was the IGC’s last session for the biennium, in more than decade-long negotiations tasked with finding agreement on international legal tools to prevent misappropriation and misuse of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. Indigenous peoples and local communities are holders of a substantial part of this knowledge and are demanding that it be protected against misappropriation but also against its use without their consent. Preston Hardison, policy analyst representing the Tulalip Tribes, Jim Walker of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (Australia), and Ronald Barnes of the Indian Council of South America answered questions about the protection of traditional knowledge, on the issue of the public domain, and what would be an optimum result of the IGC. There are some stewardship obligations that go with the knowledge, Hardison said, among others. “When you receive it you don’t receive it freely to do whatever you want with it, you have obligations to the land, to whatever it is referring, to the spirits or the ancestors. This is a real problem with the public domain. Tribes have often shared their knowledge in the past but they shared it with people who had similar views and concepts and understood these obligations. But now we are in this world with seven billion people on the internet.” Read the article …