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Is Indigenous Knowledge Intellectual Property?

Society & Culture  (tags: intellectual property, indigenous knowledge, indigenous peoples rights, interesting, news, law, culture, society, politics, rights, humans, ethics, education )

- 2489 days ago -
Who owns indigenous knowledge, and should it be protected by patent or copyright as intellectual property?

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Alexandra Rodda (180)
Tuesday July 26, 2011, 5:58 am
It should be protected by copyright. At present it is protected by the contempt that the dominant cultures have for the knowledge of the indigenous people. Little do they know that it may hole the keys to their survival.

Elle B (84)
Tuesday July 26, 2011, 6:02 am
N~T-y. Oh yes. Plantations of the minds. Such wisdom we employ around the globe. My suggestion to the indigenous. . .use your ancient knowledge to keep the diseased mutant civilization as far from your people as possible. I cannot imagine why I would be witnessing this maniacal mess on earth. The only explanation is "something" wanted to know just how stupid it was possible to be. Personally, this little particle in life has seen enough to know. In the meantime get involved with "Survival" [as posted previously] and besides donations, letters, emails and tweets use the power of the human voice and ring some officials phones off the hooks. . .somebody might still want a brownie point or two and there's a remote chance of making contact with some real human beings. Ah. . . MBM profit margins and bottom lines. . .what a joy to wake up to each day! Let's come up with a real special cleansing product for this nonsense and wash it up real good!

Past Member (0)
Tuesday July 26, 2011, 6:10 am
universal knowledge versus culturally constrained truth - do yo want to help mankind or profit at others expense?

Dave Kane (308)
Tuesday July 26, 2011, 9:51 am
It belongs to those who live it.

. (0)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 1:15 am
Our differences enrich us if we allow it.

Eleftheria Christodoulou (2)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 1:33 am
It should have a free to master copyright and this can be, as in internet happens with free software.

All civilizations have developed in the human history free, why should now have to label their culture with 'Property Of'.....?

Wednesday July 27, 2011, 2:41 am
The mad destructive intellectual rights laws that prevail in the USA are already a major impediment to progress. Only in the USA can a large company like Disney steal a fictional character like Pooh Bear invented by author Milne or Mowgli invented by Kipling and "Copyright" them. Only in the USA can someone come up with an idea for a computer program and without writing or even being able to write one line of code copyright it and prevent someone else who has never even heard of this copyright, producing viable software. The disgusting lawyers of the West have already opened a Pandora's Box that will eventually kill of technical creativity and the sharing of knowledge. We do not need more laws; we need more justice, less laws and less lawyers.

Jytte Nhanenge (64)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 4:51 am
I am really glad that you posted this video Cal. It is of great importance. And there are many good comments here. The issue is specifically important when it comes to the dreaded biotechnology that produces genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

Rich corporations are taking valuable genetic resources from the South. They bring them home to their laboratories, where they genetically modify them, after that they patent them. The patent covers both the methods by which the scientists transfer the DNA, and the underlying genetic material itself. It is not profitable to produce and sell traditional seed, only when seeds are scientifically modified and become a “hybrid” can they gain property rights. This ownership gives monopoly and hence freedom for the corporations to set high prices on seeds leading to their huge profits.

The negative consequences are serious for traditional farmers worldwide. Farmers have for over ten thousand years breed, conserved, domesticated, and developed plant genetic resources. Scientists have only entered the field the last couple of years. However, the seeds that farmers have nurtured through centuries have no value, while the scientific hybrid varieties have. Accordingly, legal institutions prioritize the contribution of corporate scientists working for profit over the contribution of Third World farmers working in order to feed themselves.

Giving legal and economic privileges to corporations is social discrimination. It clearly shows the racist view of science. In reality the genetic change achieved by traditional farmers has been far greater than the one done by science. However, the patriarchal economic system denies any value to nature and the work of subsistence farmers, many of whom are women. This shows the absence of market logic, not the deficiency of farmers’ intelligence.

Hence, in the future all seeds will become patented commodities. This colonization of life processes will have a serious impact on Third World countries and their food security. It has traditionally been farmers’ procedure to save the best seeds from own crop. However, corporations see this activity as exploitation of their legal rights and they want to abolish it. Thus, traditional farmers are seen as competitors to corporations. Corporations therefore demand monopoly on all life forms and life processes through patents. Farmers should only supply free germ plasm to the corporations, and then buy the new seed and its chemicals. Thus, the whole idea of have patent is to protect corporate profit making. This is reality, in spite of the fact that the traditional farmers were the original breeders and developers of biological resources in agriculture.

Conclusively, the fundamental problem is the existence of intellectual property rights or patent. Adding more patent will not resolve the root problem. The whole idea that one can take legal ownership of ideas and innovations should be revisited and changed so that the best developed ideas and methods – be they traditional or from newer history – can be used for the benefit of all in society and nature, rather than for the economic profit of a very small elite.

Akin Adelakun (21)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 7:48 am
Thanks for sharing!

. (0)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 8:26 am
Copyright doesn't belong to a culture. And the ability to legally protect new ideas means that individuals and companies are willing to put the time, effort, and money into developing new ideas. Take away their ability to protect the new idea, and why should they spend their resources developing it in the first place if the rest of us can just run with it without paying them a dime?

Wednesday July 27, 2011, 10:14 am
The problem is one of balance. Copyright laws applied sensibly to protect research and effort is one thing, intellectual property rights imposed on vague ideas without substance is another story entirely. The US is the bullying leader in the field of this cockamamie practice and up to now no other country in the world practices this destructive and greedy BS. The US is fast becoming the pariah of the world in grabbing and bullying in this matter.

Roger G (154)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 2:39 pm

Lionel G. (4)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 7:29 pm
An obvious parallel is what Monsanto and their ilk do: Take something that rightly belongs to all of us, modify it slightly, then patent not only the modified version but the one they stole from all of us.
Our arrogance stands in the way of recognizing how powerful ancient wisdom was. No only did the ancients have a better social and artistic sense; they had technology we can't duplicate. And indigenous "knowing" may be a key to that wisdom, We need to be learning all we can from indigenous people, not trying to lock it up as if it were ours.

pam w (139)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 11:12 pm
"Knowledge" as well as culture (which is probably the more "correct" term) belongs to EVERYONE!

Who said "There are no new ideas?"

Of course indigenous people should be protected and assisted. But, honestly, folks....a copyright on knowledge? Who invented it? Will there be "culture" wars? Does this mean I can "copyright" my cultural heritage? Please!

. (0)
Wednesday July 27, 2011, 11:15 pm
Lionel, I would be interested to see a list of all the "technology" the "ancients" had that we can't duplicate today. And when you say the "ancients" had a "better social and artistic sense", which "ancients" are you speaking of? The ones in which slavery was endemic? The ones in which women weren't allowed to contribute equally to that "social" order? The ones that were brutal dictatorships or theocracies? The ones....

There's nothing inherently good in the concept of being "indigenous" or "ancient" - one just means you've been in a place longer than some others have been in their places and the other just means you lived and died a long time ago. Just facts - not something to be inherently celebrated and canonized.

Parvez Zuberi (7)
Thursday July 28, 2011, 12:16 am
Thanks for sharing

perlita a (20)
Thursday July 28, 2011, 12:44 am
no one owns it.freely you have received,freely u should give.

Roger Skinner (14)
Thursday July 28, 2011, 8:51 am
Sounds like a can of worms to me.

RosemaryRannes H (650)
Thursday July 28, 2011, 12:44 pm
Every indigenous culture has it's inherent wisdoms, as do many other cultures. Clearly the indigenous cultures have willingly shared their primary wisdoms of respecting our Elders, our Mother Earth, Father Sky, Relations of flora and fauna, of the skies, waters ... seen and unseen !
The necessity to emulate and walk this path of respect honoring all is what living as a human being is about.
Put a copyright on that to the extent that all indigenous wisdoms release them from the enslaved bondage of racial bias perptrated for centuries denying their rights as humans beings and their cultural heritage that nurtures their spirit and educates their children! Only when true equality and acceptance of indigenous wisdoms and teachings are paralleled in our schools, society and in our world will a 'copyright' ever have any meaning!
In terms of artistry... that's a no brainer... of course every artist's work should they choose to safeguard their contribution, should be entitled to a copyright.

Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we share the Earth:-
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.
~ Native American Elder ~


Jo Asprec (0)
Thursday July 28, 2011, 6:01 pm
We must recognize that the indigenous wisdom belongs to a people who presereved it for all of us to benefit from. We must not deprive them of any monetary compensation or exploit them with keeping a patent. Indegenous knowledge can benefit us all without depriving a people such as intances of biotechnology. We must give them due recognition in all ways we can.

Iwona Krzeminska (73)
Friday July 29, 2011, 3:47 am
Thank you for sharing and this discussion. With respect for all living things -

Gloria H (88)
Friday July 29, 2011, 2:00 pm
How about "spiritual knowledge"? Where white people take the indigenous spiritual beliefs and become self appointed shamans and charge an arm and a leg for "services"held in exotic spas and retreats. To me, God/Godess/Spiritual knowledge should be free, like the air. However, western culture seems to have a shadow side that taints and slants everything to making an all mighty buck.

. (0)
Friday July 29, 2011, 3:41 pm
It should be patented so that it cannot be used by outsiders. The indigenous people should benefit from any money made off it. Monsanto has a patent on Nap Hal and I have also heard on strains of rice that Indians (from India) have used for 1000s of years. Patents are used by evil companies like this and by the WTO to deprive indigenous peoples and less developed countries from their own food sources. They now force the people to buy their product even though their ancestors used these same foods before Monsanto was even a twinkkle in the devil's eye. Always the richer and more powerful taking advantage of the less powerful and poorer. Monsanto is an embarassment to developed countries, corporations and humanity.

Past Member (0)
Friday July 29, 2011, 11:10 pm
Here I was, thinking the world was changing, at least a little, as PEOPLE create freedom of information in despite of corporate and governmental opposition. Shining light into the dark corners where dirty deeds are done, exposing greed, corruption, dishonesty and incompetence in equal measure. Trying to bring a little truth and honesty into human culture, and getting locked up for it.
Now this suggestion has "traditional" peoples joining the corporations in a big money-grubbing free for all. OK, for a start, let the USA create its own language, because they are not English...oh and we better ban pasta in Italy, cos that belongs to the Chinese...
For goodness sake, get a grip. The econo-political power base wants everything under tight control, because that is the basis of their wealth and power.
WE need to share.

colleen p (38)
Wednesday August 3, 2011, 4:04 am
no. Ok yes. Like how some plant seeds are patented, or like how medication should be copyrighted.


anyone can write a story about a wizard or super hero school. but as soon as it looks to much like Harry Potter, or the many films about super heros, or Percy Jackson. then it is copyright infrigment.

I can write a book on dogs, so can you. anyone can. but if you plagiarize my story I can sue you.

National geographic photos are copyrighted, I can take my own photo of a lion. I own that.

Is the bible copyrighted? it is so old it is public domain

who will own the copyright to their knowlage? a whole tribe? if that tribe looses themself due to swaping cultures, in 70 years it can become public domain.

so what now? if a tribe/culture has legends and stories. nobody can tell them without paying royalites? It's illegal for me to do a public screening of a movie, moreso if I charge.
what if these folk have designs and textiles? do you know that if their culture and knowlage is copyrighted
you won't be able to get a tatoo of such, or get a dress that looks like theirs?

or is this a "this leaf makes your ills heal" issue? looks like that would be like the big pharma you hate. "oops, gotta ask them if I can put that in my holistic book! that the Jujubie leaf is good for colic! I can't publish that!"

as an artisty person, copyright is something I should know. I find it funny care2 isn't cracking down on the people here using their galleries to upload content not theirs. it's in the rules people

Or am I wrong?

colleen p (38)
Wednesday August 3, 2011, 4:05 am
wait, can these people even afford a patent?

Sara L (23)
Thursday August 4, 2011, 8:46 am
but they shall not afford it, is duty of the government to get it for them

criss s (4)
Friday August 5, 2011, 10:16 am
Noted, ty.

colleen p (38)
Saturday August 6, 2011, 5:13 am
why not just protect it FROM copyright.

but wow. how nice, the govrenment will help pay for copyright fees for everything, and renew tradmarks,
I forget how a multi party copyright holder works. just a copyright lasts 70 years after the owner's death.
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