Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries
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Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries

Edited by Abbe E.L. Brown and Charlotte Waelde

The creative industries are becoming of increasing importance from economic, cultural, and social perspectives. This Handbook explores the relationship, whether positive or negative, between creative industries and intellectual property (IP) rights.
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Chapter 18: Traditional knowledge: protecting the intangible and tracing the development of international protection for folklore

Stephen Collins


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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