Law, Knowledge, Culture
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Law, Knowledge, Culture

The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in Intellectual Property Law

Jane E. Anderson

This informative book investigates how indigenous and traditional knowledge has been produced and positioned within intellectual property law and the effects of this position in both national and international jurisdictions.
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Chapter 4: Aboriginal Art and the Economic Currency of Law

Jane E. Anderson


It is clear that the purpose and function of intellectual property is historically and politically tied to promoting economic incentives. This explains why intellectual property laws are increasingly important components of world trade and the subject of world trade arguments. Beyond the classificatory indices of authorship and originality discussed previously, intellectual property is inescapably deeply imbued with commercial dynamics that dually function to inform and identify intangible subject matter. Modern intellectual property law approaches and evaluates an object for protection through an integral relationship between property and economics.1 As discussed earlier, following the eighteenth century literary property case Donaldson v Becket (1774),2 the argument was made that one could identify the harm of taking the property of intellectual labour through the financial benefits that would be deprived to the ‘originator’ of the work.3 Economic concerns thus became incorporated as a means for measuring and identifying the loss and thereby worth, of this unique form of commodity. EDELMAN AND THE COMMODITY FORM In the last few decades, knowledge itself has become valuable in new kinds of ways. Grosheide explains, that ‘[c]ultural information has, speaking in economic terms, made the step from product to raw material. This also explains why national governments are now more than ever alert to matters of intellectual property rights. Trade in cultural information or intellectual property rights has become a substantial part of national economies . . .’4 Debates and discussions about the knowledge economy, and how to enhance and protect it proliferate. As Drahos...

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