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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 11: Commercializing Cultural Heritage? Criteria for a Balanced Instrumentalization of Traditional Cultural Expressions for Development in a Globalized Digital Environment

Miriam Sahlfeld

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


Miriam Sahlfeld 1. INTRODUCTION Taking the term “development” literally, presupposes a speaker’s attitude that “developedness”, progress and being developed is “good” and desirable and that achieving little or none of this is “bad” and needs to be improved. The term as used by representatives of the industrialized nations therefore has always had a slightly condescending connotation that all who are not developed should develop. It would, of course, be wrong to assume that development is understood as the process of introducing western standards in developing countries in every aspect of life, from the provision of running water to McDonalds, TV soaps, traffic jams and representative democracy.1 There seems, however, to be agreement by representatives of countries in different stages of development that a high rate of child mortality, hunger and incurable diseases are dreadful and undesirable, and that development towards a reduced death rate, sufficient food and healthier people is desirable. Some of the conditions in third world countries are the result of colonial influence and failed attempts at developing the occupied territories and the people living in them. Whatever the cause of the prevailing circumstances, intensified migration to western countries confirms that people from developing countries consider life to be better in developed Europe and North America. Complementary to the ambiguous term of development is the equivocal definition of poverty. Western definitions of poverty and development often disregard the kind of society that creates the values. See Mary Douglas, “Traditional Culture – Let’s Hear No More About It” in Vijayendra...

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