Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property

Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property

Volume 1

Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property

Edited by Peter Drahos, Gustavo Ghidini and Hanns Ullrich

The field of intellectual property has broadened and deepened in so many ways, and at such pace, that there is a tendency for academic commentators to focus on the next new thing, or to react immediately to judicial developments, rather than to reflect more deeply on the greater themes of the discipline. The Kritika: Essays on Intellectual Property series is a series of books that are designed to fulfill this role by creating a forum for essays that take a critical, long-term approach to the field of intellectual property. Breaking down the barriers of specialization, and laying the foundation for an emergent critical scholarship, this first book in the series brings together the leading scholars in the field to reflect deeply on the current state and future of their discipline.

Chapter 4: Making room for magic in intellectual property policy

Miranda Forsyth

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law


This chapter argues that local knowledge and innovation systems, which are often rendered invisible by the dominance of the global intellectual property system, should be included in intellectual property policy formulation in developing countries. The geographical focus of the discussion is Melanesia, where there are a range of existing systems for regulating access to knowledge and other intangible valuables, such as secrecy, magic, systems of exchange, naming and attribution rights. These systems of regulation are argued to be embedded within the social, cultural and political context of the societies they regulate. Failing to take these systems into account when extending the global intellectual property regime into new geographical contexts creates two problems. First, the creation of new forms of property rights is likely to interfere with existing systems in potentially corrosive ways. Second, the true value of these knowledge and innovation systems is missed by the global North, particularly the ways in which they suggest the need to expand our epistemic and metaphysical horizons. The chapter concludes by exploring the possibility of using intercultural legal pluralism to make room for these local systems in intellectual property regulation.

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