Handbook of Cultural Security
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Handbook of Cultural Security

Edited by Yasushi Watanabe

This Handbook aims to heighten our awareness of the unique and delicate interplay between ‘Culture’ and ‘Society’ in the age of globalization. With particular emphasis on the role of culture in the field of “non-traditional” security, and seeking to define what ‘being secure’ means in different contexts, this Handbook explores the emerging concept of cultural security, providing a platform for future debates in both academic and policy fields.
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Chapter 4: Intellectual property and indigenous culture

Jessica C. Lai


Intellectual property has become a battleground for the protection of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and traditional communities. While indigenous peoples and traditional communities can use existing types of intellectual property in the forms that they exist, there are many reasons why intellectual property is not a good fit for their traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). This chapter examines the common argument that intellectual property is non-cultural and is, thus, fundamentally inappropriate for TK and TCEs. It discusses the dubious nature of this assertion, but acknowledges that certain specific features of intellectual property do not match indigenous peoples’ and traditional communities’ worldviews and knowledge systems. At the same time, intellectual property is constantly changing and is by no means fixed, but is chameleon-like. This chapter argues that such a creature is apt for dealing with different cultures and the intellectual products of different cultures. It ends by recognizing that intellectual property constitutes just part of the picture.

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