Copyright (c) 1999 The American University Law Review
American University Law Review
ARTICLE: PROTECTING FOLKLORE UNDER MODERN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY REGIMES:
A REAPPRAISAL OF THE TENSIONS BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNAL RIGHTS
IN AFRICA AND THE UNITED STATES
48 Am. U.L. Rev. 769
Paul Kuruk *
Advanced technological processes have facilitated the commercial exploitation of works of art, craft, and knowledge 1 of traditional societies on a scale that is unprecedented. 2 One can find openly displayed in many malls in the United States numerous art and other objects imported from traditional communities stretching from Africa to the Americas and Australia. 3 In addition, there is evidence of indigenous music and dance being sampled by record companies and performance groups, which are presented to the public as original compositions or choreography. 4 Monopolistic tendencies are also evident in the acts of individuals and companies who formally register folkloric themes, 5 sometimes incorporating them into advertising and commercial propaganda, as a way of preventing others from using them. 6 Furthermore, pharmaceutical companies 7 and even government agencies 8 regularly finance expeditions into remote traditional areas 9 in the hopes of tapping into local knowledge of the medicinal value of plants 10 that could in turn be used to develop drugs for sale. 11 In addition, research scientists collaborate with indigenous farmers to obtain local crop varieties to improve seeds under so-called biodiversity programs. 12
Associated with these forms of folklore commercialization is a serious concern that traditional societies may be short-changed or even harmed during the process. 13 In many cases where traditional art or knowledge is exploited, the communities derive either no economic benefits, 14 or if they do gain something, such benefits often pale in comparison to the huge profits made by the exploiters. ...
If you are interested in obtaining a lexis.com® ID and Password, please contact us at 1-(800)-227-4908 or visit us at http://www.lexisnexis.com/.