Table of Contents

Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions in a Digital Environment

Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions in a Digital Environment

Edited by Christoph Beat Graber and Mira Burri-Nenova

In the face of increasing globalisation, and a collision between global communication systems and local traditions, this book offers innovative trans-disciplinary analyses of the value of traditional cultural expressions (TCE) and suggests appropriate protection mechanisms for them. It combines approaches from history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology and law, and charts previously untravelled paths for developing new policy tools and legal designs that go beyond conventional copyright models. Its authors extend their reflections to a consideration of the specific features of the digital environment, which, despite enhancing the risks of misappropriation of traditional knowledge and creativity, may equally offer new opportunities for revitalising indigenous peoples’ values and provide for the sustainability of TCE.

Chapter 2: Cannibalizing Epistemes: Will Modern Law Protect Traditional Cultural Expressions?

Gunther Teubner and Andreas Fischer-Lescano

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, intellectual property law, politics and public policy, human rights


Gunther Teubner and Andreas FischerLescano* 1. TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE: SOCIAL ISSUE FRAMING True miracles are ascribed to the Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica), particularly in India, where the tree is worshipped as being holy. Extracts from its leaves are used to fight against 14 different types of fungus and against bacteria found in burn tissue, as well as against typhoid pathogens. The extract is used to prevent viral infections, and is implemented against small pox, chicken pox, hepatitis B and herpes. All parts of the tree are used in ayurvedic medicine.1 Bio-pesticides and bio-fungicides are also extracted from the Neem Tree. The Turmeric powder (Curcuma longa) is a spice of similar versatility. It is used in Indian medicine to combat infectious diseases and to heal wounds, but also as a spice and dye. What these two natural products have in common is that they were both objects of economic interest, exploited by transnational networks. While the US company W.R. Grace & Co. acquired a whole series of patents in connection with the production of a stabilizing Azadirachta solution for fighting fungi, researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre patented the use of turmeric in the USA for purposes of healing wounds.2 Both We would like to thank Isabel Hensel for helpful suggestions. Heinrich Schmutterer, The Neem Tree Azadirachta Indica A. Juss. and Other Meliaceous Plants: Sources of Unique Natural Products for Integrated Pest Management, Medicine, Industry and Other Purposes, Weinheim: VCH, 1995. 2 For details on both cases, see Murray Lee Eiland,...

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