Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-kpmwg Total loading time: 0.404 Render date: 2021-12-06T21:43:52.598Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

5 - Traditional cultural expressions: Preservation and innovation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Tzen Wong
Public Interest Intellectual Property Advisors
Graham Dutfield
University of Leeds
Get access



This chapter addresses challenges faced by indigenous peoples and local communities in the legal protection of their traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). It also highlights considerations for governments, public institutions and non-profit organizations in attempts to promote TCEs to support indigenous peoples and local communities in their cultural, economic and social development. While TCEs are embraced within the broad, holistic approach to traditional knowledge (TK) adopted in this book, there are legal issues and developments specific to the protection of TCEs which merit separate analysis from those elements of TK addressed in Chapter 4. This chapter first explores some relevant concepts towards understanding the overlap between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the protection of TCEs. It poses questions relating to the commodification of TCEs by IPRs, and how this potentially transforms the social relations underpinning creative processes in indigenous communities. At the same time, it is recognized that the making and marketing of some forms of TCEs present potential sources of livelihoods to many indigenous communities currently marginalized in the socio-economic order. Given a global environment where TCEs are increasingly copied and commercially mass-produced by third parties, some options and limitations in relation to intellectual property (IP) protection of TCEs are discussed, along with sui generis protection. While the Latin term sui generis means ‘unique’ or ‘of its own kind’, it remains to be seen how far these hybrid solutions ultimately depart from typical concepts in IP law. Beyond legal measures, there are indigenous protocols and other standards governing third-party access to and use of TCEs, including those evolving within the context of the Internet. These are also explored briefly in this chapter.

Concepts and definitions

According to Article 1(a) of the Revised Draft Provisions for the Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions/Expressions of Folklore being reviewed at WIPO (‘WIPO Revised Provisions’), ‘traditional cultural expressions’ or ‘expressions of folklore’ are ‘any forms, whether tangible and intangible, in which traditional culture and knowledge are expressed, appear or are manifested’, and comprise the following forms of expressions (or combinations thereof):

  1. verbal expressions, such as: stories, epics, legends, poetry, riddles and other narratives; words, signs, names, and symbols;

  2. musical expressions, such as songs and instrumental music;

  3. expressions by action, such as dances, plays, ceremonies, rituals and other performances, whether or not reduced to a material form; and

  4. tangible expressions, such as productions of art, in particular, drawings, designs, paintings (including body-painting), carvings, sculptures, pottery, terracotta, mosaic, woodwork, metalware, jewelry, baskets, needlework, textiles, glassware, carpets, costumes; handicrafts; musical instruments; and architectural forms…

Intellectual Property and Human Development
Current Trends and Future Scenarios
, pp. 175 - 217
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Anaya, J. 2004 International Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples: The Move Toward the Multicultural StateArizona Journal of International and Comparative Law 21 13 Scholar
Anderson, J. 2009
Anderson, J. 2009 Law, Knowledge, Culture: The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in Intellectual Property LawEdward ElgarCheltenham, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Anderson, J.Torsen, M.Safeguarding Cultural Heritage and Protecting Traditional Cultural Expressions: The Management of Intellectual Property Issues and Options – A Compendium for Museums, Archives and LibrariesWorld Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)Geneva
Antons, C. 2009
Barsh, R.L. 1999 Indigenous Knowledge and Biodiversity in Indigenous Peoples, Their Environments and TerritoriesPosey, D.A.Culture and Spiritual Values of BiodiversityIntermediate Technology PublicationLondonGoogle Scholar
Belder, L. 2007 Cultural Expressions: From Common Source to Public DomainMacmillan, F.New Directions in Copyright Law 4 Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MAGoogle Scholar
Bently, L. 2008 The Making of Modern Trade Mark Law: The Construction of the Legal Concept of Trade Mark (1860–1880)Bently, L.Davis, J.Ginsburg, J.C.Trade Marks and Brands: An Interdisciplinary CritiqueCambridge University PressNew York3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bergès-Sennou, F.Hassan, D.Monier-Dilhan, S.Raynal, H. 2009
Boateng, B. 2005 Square Pegs in Round Holes? Cultural Production, Intellectual Property Frameworks, and Discourses of PowerGhosh, R.A.CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy61Massachusetts Institute of Technology PressCambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
Boizot-Szantai, C.Lecocq, S.Marette, S. 2005
Bowrey, K. 2006 ‘Alternative Intellectual Property? : Indigenous Protocols, Copyleft and New Juridifications of Customary PracticeMacquarie Law Journal 6 65Google Scholar
Brownlie, I. 1998 Principles of International LawClarendon PressOxfordGoogle Scholar
Chander, A.Sunder, M. 2004
Chon, M. 2009 Marks of RectitudeFordham Law Review 77 101 Scholar
Clayton, C.M. 2010
Cornish, W.R.Llewelyn, D. 2003 Intellectual Property: Patents, Copyright, Trade Marks and Allied RightsSweet and MaxwellLondonGoogle Scholar
Crespi, J.M.Marette, S. 2003 Some Economic Implications of Public LabelingJournal of Food Distribution Research 32 83 Scholar
Das, K. 2008 Select Issues and Debates around Geographical Indications with Particular Reference to IndiaJournal of World Trade 42 461Google Scholar
Das, K. 2010 Prospects and Challenges of Geographical Indications in IndiaJournal of World Intellectual Property 13 148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DeCarlo, J. 2007 Fair Trade: A Beginners’ GuideOneworld PublicationsOxfordGoogle Scholar
Deer, K. 2009 Indigenous ICT TaskforcePopova-Gosart, U.Traditional Knowledge & Indigenous PeoplesLIENIP and WIPOGeneva94 Scholar
De Obaldia, I. 2006 Western Intellectual Property and Indigenous Cultures: The Case of the Panamanian Indigenous Intellectual Property LawBoston University International Law Journal 23 337Google Scholar
Donkin, L. 2001
Dutfield, G. 2001 TRIPS-Related Aspects of Traditional KnowledgeCase Western Reserve Journal of International Law 33 239Google Scholar
Dutfield, G. 2006
Dutfield, G.Suthersanen, U. 2008 Global Intellectual Property LawEdward Elgar, Cheltenham, UKGoogle Scholar
Farm Foundation 2003
Fitzgerald, B.F.Hedge, S. 2008 Traditional Cultural Expression and The Internet WorldAntons, C.Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expression and Intellectual Property in South East AsiaKluwer Law International, Alphen aan den RijnThe NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
Frankel, S.R. 2008 Trademarks and Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Intellectual Property RightsDinwoodie, G.B.Janis, M.D.Trademark Law and Theory: A Handbook of Contemporary ResearchEdward ElgarCheltenham, UK.Google Scholar
Gangjee, D. 2008 (Re)Locating Geographical IndicationsBently, L.Davis, J.Ginsburg, J.C.Trade Marks and Brands: An Interdisciplinary CritiqueCambridge University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
Geismar, H. 2005 Copyright in Context: Carvings, Carvers, and Commodities in VanuatuAmerican Ethnologist 32 437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Geismar, H. 2005
Gibson, J. 2005 Community Resources: Intellectual Property, International Trade and Protection of Traditional KnowledgeAshgate PublishingAldershot, UK, Burlington, VTGoogle Scholar
Haugen, H.M. 2005 Traditional Knowledge and Human RightsJournal of World Intellectual Property 8 663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haugen, H.M. 2007 ‘General Comment No. 17 on Authors’ RightsThe Journal of World Intellectual Property 10 53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Healy, K. 2001 ‘Recuperating a Wealth of Women's Weavings in the Valleys of Chuquisaca’, in KLlamas, Weaving, and Organic Chocolate: Multicultural Grassroots Development in the Andes and Amazon of BoliviaUniversity of Notre Dame PressNotre Dame, INGoogle Scholar
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) 2008
Janke, T. 2003 Minding Culture: Case Studies on Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural ExpressionsWIPO, Geneva Scholar
Kneen, B. 2004
Kur, A.Cocks, S. 2007 Nothing but a GI Thing: Geographical Indications under EU LawFordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal 17 999Google Scholar
Laird, S.A.Noejovich, F. 2002 Building Equitable Research Relationships with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: Prior Informed Consent and Research AgreementsLaird, S.A.Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge: Equitable Partnerships in PracticePeople and Plants Conservation Series, EarthscanLondon and Sterling, VAGoogle Scholar
Lane, P. 1988 Tourism and Social Change among the DogonAfrican Arts 21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Leach, J. 2005 Modes of Creativity and the Register of OwnershipGhosh, R.A.CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital EconomyMassachusetts Institute of Technology PressCambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Lindholm, C. 2008 Culture and AuthenticityWiley & SonsNew YorkGoogle Scholar
Malm, K. 2004
Malm, K. 2004 ntellectual Property Rights and Unfair Exploitation of Traditional Music and Other Traditional Knowledge in AfricaThorsén, S.M.Sounds of Change – Social and Political Features of Music in AfricaSwedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)Stockholm120Google Scholar
Māori Trade Mark Focus Group 1997
Marahare, D. 2004
Mauss, M. 1950 Essai sur le DonSociologie et AnthropologiePresses Universitaires de FranceParisGoogle Scholar
McCluskey, J.J.Loureiro, M.L. 2003
Mead, A. 2005
Ministerio de Comercio Exterior y Turismo (MINCETUR) 2004
Musungu, S.F. 2008
Myers, F. 2005 Some Properties of Culture and PersonsGhosh, R.A.CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital EconomyMassachusetts Institute of Technology PressCambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Oguamanam, C. 2008 Local Knowledge as Trapped Knowledge: Intellectual Property, Culture, Power and PoliticsJournal of World Intellectual Property 11 29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Okediji, R.L. 2007 The Limits of Development Strategies at the Intersection of Intellectual Property and Human RightsGervais, D.Intellectual Property, Trade and Development: Strategies to Optimize Economic Development in a TRIPS-Plus EraOxford University Press355Google Scholar
Parry, B. 2008 Geographical Indications: Not All Champagne and RosesBently, L.Davis, J.Ginsburg, J.C.Trade Marks and Brands: An Interdisciplinary CritiqueCambridge University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
Prott, L.V. 1998 Understanding One Another on Cultural RightsNiec, H.Cultural Rights and Wrongs: A Collection of Essays in Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the University Declaration of Human RightsInstitute of Art & Law, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)161Google Scholar
Richards, P. 2005
Schildkrout, E. 2004
Secretariat for the Pacific Community 2006
Sen, A.K. 2005 Human Rights and CapabilitiesJournal of Human Development 6 151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shinya, 2004 Protecting Traditional Cultural Expressions Policy Issues and Considerations From a Copyright PerspectiveCanadian HeritageGoogle Scholar
Strathern, M. 1996 Cutting the NetworkThe Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2 517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strathern, M. 1999 Property Substance and Effect, Anthropological Essays on Persons and ThingsAthlone PressLondonGoogle Scholar
Strathern, M. 2005 Imagined Collectivities and Multiple AuthorshipGhosh, R.A.CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital EconomyMassachusetts Institute of Technology PressCambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
Sunder, M. 2007 The Invention of Traditional KnowledgeLaw and Contemporary Problems 70 97Google Scholar
Suthersanen, U. 2008
Tamang, P. 2005
Torsen, M. 2005
Torsen, M. 2008 Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions: A Synopsis of Current IssuesInternational Human Rights Review 3 199Google Scholar
Townsend-Gault, C. 2004 Journal of Material Culture 9 183CrossRef
United Nations (UN) 2009
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2004
UNDP 2005
van Beek, W.E.A. 2003
von Lewinski, S 2007 Adequate Protection of Folklore – A Work in ProgressTorremans, P.Copyright Law: A Handbook of Contemporary ResearchEdward Elgar PublishingCheltenham, UK, and Northampton, MA207Google Scholar
Wiessner, S. 2009
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 1998
WIPO 2003
WIPO 2006
Yue, C.Marette, S.Beghin, J.C. 2006
Zago, A.Pick, D. 2002
Zografos, D. 2007
Zografos, D. 2008

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats