Chapter 18: Traditional knowledge: protecting the intangible and tracing the development of international protection for folklore
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This chapter provides a detailed overview of some of the main attempts to develop an international framework for the protection of folklore through copyright. By tracing the development of international protection for folklore back to the early 1960s, I attempt to contextualise the current work of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)’s Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), which remains focussed on forming a workable international instrument. I aim to unpack the reasons why such an instrument was originally pursued and why it continues, despite the many complexities associated with the protection of folklore. Finally, given that many states, particularly in the global South, do provide protection for their folklore, this chapter attempts to provide a sense of the current imbalance in copyright protection between jurisdictions that the absence of an international standard permits.

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