Do we need exit rules for traditional knowledge? Lessons from Solomon Linda and the ‘Mbube’/‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ case
Dalindyebo ShabalalaProfessor, University of Dayton School of Law

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The misappropriation of the traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions/folklore (TCEs) of indigenous and traditional communities has become an issue in the mainstream of intellectual property scholarship and policy. Many countries have put in place legislation to address this issue. Much of this focuses on the idea that the means of protection should be addressed at actions by ‘outsiders’. In this article, I pose the question of whether, in focusing on actions by outsiders, policymakers and scholars have minimized or elided the crucial role played by ‘insiders’ in the process of misappropriation. In this paper, I take what is considered a prototypical story of fundamental injustice done to an individual artist and the traditional Zulu community from which he came, the story of the song ‘Mbube’/‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and Solomon Linda, and use it as a case study to identify some of the questions that should be raised as we begin to re-examine other cases to understand what the role of insiders has been in acts of misappropriation of TK and TCEs.

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