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Archived updates for Wednesday, September 29, 2004

WIPO's Overview of the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expression

WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (‘the Committee’) has developed an overview of policy objectives and core principles for the protection of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs)/expressions of folklore (EoF). Annex II contains a full discussion of the draft objectives and principles and provides relevant background and explanatory information, including:

Traditional cultural expressions or expressions of folklore may be understood as including productions consisting of characteristic elements of the traditional cultural heritage developed and maintained by a community, or by
individuals reflecting the traditional artistic expectations of such a community. Such productions may include, for example, the following forms of expression, or combinations thereof:

  • verbal expressions, such as folk tales, folk poetry and riddles;
  • aspects of language such as words, names, signs, symbols and other indications;
  • musical expressions, such as folk songs and instrumental music;
  • expressions by actions, such as folk dances, plays and artistic forms or rituals, whether or not reduced to material form; and
  • tangible expressions, such as productions of folk art, in particular, drawings, designs, paintings, carvings, sculptures, pottery, terracotta, mosaic, woodwork, metalware, jewelry, basket weaving, textiles, carpets, handicrafts, musical instruments and architectural forms.

The specific choice of terms to denote the protected subject matter should be determined at the national and regional levels. TCEs/EoF should be protected, whatever the mode or form of their expression, provided they are:

  1. the products of creative intellectual activity, including collective and cumulative creativity; and
  2. characteristic of a community’s distinctive cultural identity and traditional heritage developed and maintained by it.

Measures for the protection of TCEs/EoF should be for the benefit of the indigenous peoples and traditional and other cultural communities

  1. in whom the custody and protection of the TCEs/EoF are entrusted in accordance with the customary law and practices of that community; and
  2. who maintain and use the TCEs/EoF as being characteristic of their traditional cultural heritage.

Special protection for TCEs/EoF should not replace and is complementary to any protection applicable to TCEs/EoF and derivatives thereof under other intellectual property laws.

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