Archive of Developments in Indigenous Cultural & Intellectual Property,
Talking heads, but interesting: "Cultural Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples," Library of Congress event on YouTube, 2011.
Updated WIPO page on indigenous IPR, with links to various reports.

New works of note by Haidy Geismar:

Note, too, the following, which somehow escaped my radar screen until now:

From Intellectual Property Watch: Catherine Saez, "Interviews: What Protection of Traditional Knowledge Means to Indigenous Peoples." 20 August 2003, posted here 26 August.

New books on various facets of cultural property:

Latest thoughts on the Washington Redskins name: "The Washington _______.", 8 August 2013, posted here 26 August.
I'm partial to the International Journal of Cultural Property because I'm an associate editor. But some terrific work is also being published in the journal Heritage and Society, based at U Mass-Amherst. Convince your university to subscribe to both!
Latest news on possible name change by the Washington Redskins, 28 June 2013, posted here 16 July.
A recent doctoral dissertation to check out: Nicole Aylwin's Thinking Transnationally: Cultural Diversity, Cultural Rights, and Cultural Policy in a Globalised World. Details here. 16 July 2013.
Happy Birthday's copyright has finally come under challenge. See also additional reports in Forbes and elsewhere. 20 June 2013, posted here 16 July 2013.
Just out in Current Anthropology: Jaume Franquesa, "On Keeping and Selling: The Political Economy of Heritage Making in Contemporary Spain." Abstract. Posted here 15 May 2013.
"Maasai the Brand." An interview with Ron Layton, CEO of a non-profit that helps indigenous communities protect the commercial value of their identity. (Includes audio.) The World, 10 May 2013.
The European Union is debating a proposed law that would protect indigenous communities from bioprospecting abuse. The Guardian, UK, 1 May 2013.
Funding for WIPO's indigenous IP initiative is running out. 26 April 2013
A kerfluffle in Fiji about traditional decorated bark design appropriated by Air Pacific, from the IPinCH website, 18 February 2013, posted here 28 March 2013
Another IP-gets-weird story: Who owns Sherlock Holmes? "Suit Says Sherlock Belongs to the Ages," NYT, 6 March 2013, posted here 28 March 2013.
"Australian law relating to communal indigenous intellectual property," by Francis A. Lightowlers and Jenni Lightowlers, Lexology, 12 February 2013.
David J. Kevles, "Can They Patent Your Genes?" NYRB, 7 March 2013.
Just out:
Heritage Regimes and the State
, edited by Regina Bendix, Aditya Eggert, and Arnika Peselmann.
The Politics of Heritage Management in Mali, by Charlotte Joy.
In the NY Times, Hugh Eakin asks tough questions about the current passion for repatriating (mostly European) art objects. 26 January 2013.
From IP Watch: "Indigenous Peoples Rights’ Reaffirmed By UN Rapporteur, Panellists, At WIPO." 5 February 2013.
Heritage gets complicated: First Nations Families in British Columbia dispute sale of masks by a family member. 20 January 2013.
NOT TO BE MISSED! The latest issue of the IJCP (vol 19, no 3.) contains eight terrific articles under the thematic rubric of "Intangible Property at the Periphery: Expanding Enclosure in the 21st Century." The special issue, edited by Murphy Halliburton, includes essays by (among others) Bronwyn Parry, Lorraine V. Aragon, Kate Hennessy, Krishna Ravi Srinivas, and John Collins. (Full table of contents.) This is behind a paywall, unfortunately, but your library may have download rights. 2 January 2013.
Who owns the name "Amazon"? "Domain Wars: South America vs." Global Post, 29 November 2012.
"Protecting Traditional Heritage." Latest thinking on heritage protection from New Zealand. 20 December 2012
More on fight over whether Mt. Taylor should be designated a traditional cultural property, Indian Country Media Network, 2 December 2012.
"Supreme Court to decide if human genes can be patented,", 30 November 2012.
The politics of copyright law: Marty Kaplan, "GOP smart on copyright for 24 hours," Huffington Post, 19 November 2012.
Just out: Christoph B. Graber , Karolina Kuprecht , Jessica C. Lai, eds., International Trade In Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Legal and Policy Issues (Edward Elgar Publishing), posted here 8 November 2012.
The band "No Doubt" commits a cultural-appropriation gaffe that's deep-sixed within hours., 5 November 2012.
"Aboriginal copyrights to be reviewed next year," Taipei Times (Taiwan), 21 October 2012 (with thanks to Kerim Friedman for bringing this to my attention).
More on the continuing conflict over the classification of Mount Taylor, NM, as a traditional cultural property. From the Wall Street Journal, 17 October 2012.
Cultural appropriation in bad taste: An ad for a cell-phone provider in Australia on YouTube (with a hat-tip to the IPinCH website).
How intellectual property stifles innovation. From the NY Times, 7 October 2012. For a follow-up debate, go here.
A terrific 2009 title that didn't make it onto my radar screen until a week ago is Music and Cultural Rights; Global and Local Perspectives on the Meaning and Significance of Cultural Rights Through Music, edited by Andrew N. Weintraub and Bell Yung (University of Illinois Press). 21 September 2012.
A Native American mascot is back at Eastern Michigan U, 10 September 2012.
Just out and worth a close reading: Stephen R. Munzer, "Corrective Justice and Intellectual Property Rights in Traditional Knowledge," New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Intellectual Property, Annabelle Lever, ed. (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
WIPO's negotiations with indigenous peoples are apparently not going well. See stories here and here, both from July 2012.
"Gujarat's indigenous tribes to get brand registration for tribal medicines." Economic Times (India), 2 July 2012.
"Profits without honor: Returning aboriginal artifacts." This 1995 article by Douglas Todd was recently reprinted in the Vancouver Sun because--well, because it deserves to be re-read. 6 June 2012.
The latest issue (v.19, no.1, 2012) of the IJCP has just shipped, and it has something for every kind of reader. The contents include essays on the problem of defining what constitutes a "community" when assessing community control of heritage, riddles of NAGPRA's use of the notion of "cultural affiliation," the economic value of cultural identity, and more. Full table of contents here. 5 June 2012.
Check this out: "Infinite copyright is killing culture.", March 2012, posted here 5 June 2012.
World Intellectual Property Organization Blasted for ‘Misappropriation’ of Indigenous Knowledge, Resources. Indian Country Today, 12 May 2012, posted here 5 June 2012.
If you're interested in a nuanced perspective on responsible open-access scholarship, click on over to Jason Baird Jackson's February 2012 post, "Another World is Possible: Open Folklore as Library-Scholarly Society Partnership." Posted here 27 April 2012.
“‘In Defense of Property’: An Exchange" International Journal of Cultural Property 17: 569-598, 2010. Consists of comment by Michael F. Brown (pp. 569-579) and reply by Kristen A. Carpenter, Sonia K. Katyal, and Angela R. Riley (pp.581-598). Carpenter, Katyal, and Riley’s contribution is included with authors’ kind permission. Full-text download here. This article is a lively debate about Carpenter, Katyal, and Riley's important essay, "In Defense of Property" (Yale Law Journal, 2009) which is available full-text here.

Here's a recent article worth checking out if you have access to the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute:

  • Lala Rukh Selim, "On the possibility of cultural property: The Musée Guimet controversy and case study of events in Bangladesh," JRAI 17, 2011.
  • Abstract: Bangladesh's multicultural and syncretic past is reflected in its artefacts. The Musée Guimet of France planned an exhibition of about 200 masterpieces from the five major museums of Bangladesh in 2007. Against a background of a wider public disinterest in the concept of `cultural property', a plethora of demonstrations and lawsuits sought to block the export of objects as the process was perceived to disregard Bangladeshi and international laws. A polarization of positions emerged among the Bangladeshi left-liberal networks. Through an exploration of the events of the Guimet débâcle this paper brings into focus the debates relating to the national and universal in the context of the status of artefacts as the identity and patrimony of the Bangladeshi nation. The Guimet affair exemplifies how artefacts can play a powerful role in the contestation of the politics of Bengali Muslim identity in a postcolonial nation. Posted here 27 April 2012.
"Tourism goes indigenous." IPS News, 4 April 2012.

A new themed issue of Current Anthropology contains several papers about repatriation and cultural ownership of biological materials. Of particular interest:

Unless I'm mistaken, CA resides behind a pay-wall, so you'll need access to an institutional login with a site-license.

"U.N. expert offended by Rodarte Aboriginal-print fashion," Washington Post, 16 March 2012.
Another story that won't go away: The "Fighting Sioux" question comes back. See also David Sirota's "Ethnic Mascots are Never Winners,", 7 March 2012.
Who says businesses are smarter than governments? Urban Outfitters just won't quit pissing off the Navajo--so the Navajo Nation is suing. 29 February 2012.
Big story: "Indigenous People Walk Out of WIPO Committee, 26 February 2012.
Peter Jean, "Proposal to Research Indigenous Medicines." Canberra Times, 18 February 2012.
Another paywall-protected gem: Karolina Lindh and Jutta Haider, "Development and the Documentation of Indigenous Knowledge: Good Intentions in Bad Company?" Libri, 2012.
India to patent forest products of tribal communities. Economic Times, 1 February 2012, posted here 8 February.
Want a nice fountain pen named after the Mapuche? You can find it here for a mere $895! I have no idea whether the Mapuche have authorized this or whether they benefit from it in any way. 8 February 2012.
From PLOS/Neuroanthropology, information on the "Digital Return" conference held at the Smithsonian in January 2012. Story includes links to relevant websites, including Digital Return's own site. 8 February 2012.
Here's an Indian Country Today piece from August 2011 that only recently crossed my path: "Protecting Identity and Art." Posted here 27 January 2012.

Gotta love the strange world of intellectual property. The Economist has run a story on efforts to protect the name of the plant that provides tequila's raw material, the agave. Liquor manufacturers can only call their beverage "tequila" if it's made in one of five Mexican states. To meet growing demand in the US, distillers in other parts of Mexico are calling their product "agave liquor." This led to demands that agave should be redefined as a trademark or geographical indication. ¡Salud! 22 January 2012.

More still: How about the litigation that would declare Chinese red a trademarked color when it appears on the bottom of women's shoes? This time it's from the Wall Street Journal. Posted here 27 January 2012.

The AP reports that Mexican fashion designers are now actively taking inspiration from the traditional clothing of the nation's indigenous peoples, including huipiles. An act of cultural appropriation? You decide. 14 November 2011; posted here 29 November.
From the PLoS blog Neuroanthropology, a lengthy description of an important session on Digital Anthropology at the recent American Anthropological Association meeting in Montreal. Elements of this session were directed to the digitization of indigenous heritage and the establishment of indigenously developed protocols for its management. Not to be missed. 28 November 2011.
Latest issue of the IJCP is out. Full list of articles can be browsed here, but of special note are essays by Charles Kamau Maina, "Power Relations in the Traditional Knowledge Debate," and Emma Lees, "Intangible Cultural Heritage in a Modernizing Bhutan."
Looking for sophisticated recent analyses of indigenous IP issues and solutions? Be sure to check out the publications page of the IPinCH Project in British Columbia. 27 September 2011.
There's a great story in about the offensive appropriation of "Navajo" by Urban Outfitters. Includes trenchant comments by Susan Scafidi and others. Not to be missed. 14 October 2011. Update: More on the case here, 17 October 2011.
Controversial South African law to protect indigenous TK is passed. But is it the best solution? 19 September 2011.

July 2011: Waitangi Tribunal releases report on Wai 262 claims regarding Maori traditional knowledge.

After years of work, the Waitangi Tribunal, Aotearoa/New Zealand, has released its findings on the Wai 262 claims. The report website includes multiple, downloadable documents, including a media release, a report for a general-interest readership, and several more technical documents. This is likely to stand as one of the most important set of documents ever issued on the legal status of indigenous knowledge in a multicultural settler society. Not to be missed! (With special thanks to Charles Dawson, Research Analyst/Inquiry Facilitator, Waitangi Tribunal, for bringing this to my attention.)

An NZ news story about the Waitangi decision accessible here, with more sure to follow. 25 July 2011.

Article worth reading if you can surmount the Wiley-Blackwell pay wall: Larry Nesper, "Law and Ojibwe Indian 'traditional cultural property' in the organized resistance to the Crandon Mine in Wisconsin," Law and Social Inquiry 36.1 (Winter 2011).
More evidence that US IP law is getting crazier every day: Story of how a folk artist in Vermont who makes tee-shirts that say "Eat More Kale" is getting cease-and-desist letters from lawyers for the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, whose trademarked slogan is "Eat more Chikin." New York Times, 4 December 2011, posted here 9 December 2011.
Nathaniel T. Noda, "Perpetuating cultures: What fan-based activities can teach us about intangible cultural property," Creighton Law Review 44, 2011. You may need access to Lexis-Nexis to download this.
Francesco Francioni, "The human dimension of international cultural heritage law: An introduction." European Journal of International Law 22, 2011, available full-text. 9 December 2011.
Interesting paper on indigenous secrecy and its legal implications: "We could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you: How indigenous cultural secrecy impedes the protection of natural cultural heritage in the United States," by Audrey Mense. 9 December 2011.
Aboriginal stone tjuringa removed from UK auction after negative publicity. 8 September 2011.

More appropriation stories related to sports:

Here are recent journal articles worthy of attention. All seem to be behind pay walls, unfortunately, but your library may be able to provide access. (Post updated on 10 August 2011)

From the IPinCH site: "Dr Deidre Brown, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, University of Auckland, asked me about circulating this link to a 15 minute TV segment from 60 Minutes New Zealand for 'anyone who might be interested in the accommodation of, and controversies around, sacred cultural sites (in this instance related to the places where spiritual creatures, or taniwha, reside) and roading/building/development projects.' "

For information on sacred-sites controversies in North America, be sure to check out the excellent series at Indian Country Today Media Network. 5 July 2011.

Botswana invests 6m pula (roughly US $925,000) in project that will identify, document, and conserve indigenous knowledge. 21 June 2011.
Humor alert: Video panel discussion, "Economy Failing Because U.S. Built On Ancient Indian Burial Grounds." From The Onion (what else?). I'm proud to report that The Onion's faux news anchor, Julianna McKannis, is a graduate of Williams College, where this website is hosted.
"Bio-prospectors probe Australian Aboriginal lore," 8 June 2011.
The big story of late May was the flap about IP rights in a Maori-esque tatoo on Mike Tyson's mug—a design apparently copied for a character in the film The Hangover, Part Two. The story got page one treatment in the New York Times, with no mention of the cultural-appropriation angle, but others soon followed. See, e.g., "New Zealand’s Maori People Upset Over Hangover Tyson Tattoo Lawsuit" (May 24) and "Copyright Clash over Mike Tyson's Facial Tattoo" (May 29).
Various countries flaming each other about rights in, and to, the world's hottest chilis. Latest contender is from Trinidad & Tobago, which checks in at 1.4 million Scoville Units. 16 May 2011.
More IP weirdness: Disney seeks to trademark "Navy Seals Team 6," 14 May 2011.
Stories on WIPO's ongoing negotiations about recognition and protection of indigenous IP rights are coming thick and fast. See here and here, early May 2011.
"Kenya loses heavily in global theft of flora and fauna, says new report." Daily Nation (Kenya), 25 April 2011.
"Indigenous software helps keep global bio-pirates at bay." Times of India, 20 April 2011.
"Healers and wheeler-dealers: Grassroots activists vie with corporations for ancient cures." Sydney Morning Herald, 9 April 2011.
An Aboriginal adaptation of Antigone has been banned from a Saskatchewan reserve because one of its characters is a corrupt chief, hitting too close to home. 31 March 2011.
"South American Indians to receive royalties from potato sales." I hope this is true, but I'm not holding my breath. 31 March 2011.
"India’s Digital Library of Traditional Knowledge—a New Tool in Protecting Indigenous Rights." Intellectual Property Brief, 25 March 2011.
This has nothing to do with indigenous IPR, but if you're interested in IP at its strangest, there's a great story in Inside Higher Ed about the "branding" struggle over rights to the color orange, which is associated with several prominent universities, including Syracuse, Clemson, Boise State, and others. 31 March 2011.
Who'll own the seed?" Daily Yonder, 8 March 2011.
Revisiting the Hindmarsh Island Bridge case: An apology to Ngarrindjeri women. The Australian, July 2010 but posted here 18 March 2011 (with hat tip to Julie Hollowell).
By Andrew Orlowski, a hostile assessment of an interesting project, which recently won a handsome research grant, on the protection of traditional cultural properties by the legal scholar Uma Suthersanen. 17 February 2011.
New publications worth a look:
--Boatema Boateng, The Copyright Thing Doesn't Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana, 2011.
--Murphy Halliburton, "Resistance or Inaction? Protecting Ayurvedic Medical Knowledge and Problems of Agency," American Ethnologist 39 (1), 2011. (Full text is behind a pay wall, unfortunately.)
The blogosphere is heating up with comments on the significance of the destruction or loss of archaeological treasures amid Egypt's current political disorder. Check out this post by Neil Silberman and this one by Rosemary Joyce. 7 February 2011.
Oxford UP has published a collection of essays on the cultural significance of copyright: Paul K. Saint-Amour, ed., Modernism and Copyright. 7 February 2011.
From the New York Times: "Mali City Rankled by Rules for Life in Spotlight," a story about ordinary people's objections to living in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 9 January 2011.
The IPinCH website has links to several useful papers on indigenous IP. Among them are (1) "IP and the Safeguarding of Traditional Cultures," written for WIPO by Molly Torsen and Jane Anderson, and (2) Jane Anderson's "Indigenous/Traditional Knowledge & IP." 6 January 2011.
In the New York Times, archaeologist Robert L. Kelly makes a case against revisions of NAGPRA that would essentially require archaeologists to get rid of prehistoric human remains any way they can: "Institutions must now offer to repatriate remains to tribes that have no demonstrable cultural affiliation with them. In some situations, under the new rules, institutions are directed to simply 'transfer control of culturally unidentifiable human remains to other Indian tribes' or, in clear violation of the law, 'to an Indian group that is not federally recognized.' If all else fails, institutions can simply re-inter the unidentifiable remains near where they were found." 13 December 2010.


The 20th anniversary of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, better known as NAGPRA, has sparked the publication of a number of retrospective essays, along with ideas about how the law can be improved and strengthened. Among these are two by Margaret M. Bruchac of U Connecticut-Avery Point: "Constructing Indigenous Associations: Protocols of Recognition and NAGPRA Compliance," (Anthropology News, March 2010), and "Lost and Found: NAGPRA, Scattered Relics, and Restorative Methodologies," (Museum Anthropology, 2010). Added here 29 November 2010.
Just out in the IJCP: Rosanne Trottier, "Intellectual Property for Mystics? Considerations on Protecting Traditional Wisdom Systems." Not Open Access, unfortunately, but your institution may have download rights. 29 November 2010.
"New Zealand: Can You Own the Haka?" by Matt Sumpter. 19 November 2010.
Open-access journal article of note: Herdis Hølleland, "Peopling the Past: On Analogical Reasoning and the Question of Cultural and Intellectual Property," Journal of Heritage Management 3, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 9-32
Bronwyn Herbert, "Dream Shield to protect Indigenous ideas," ABC News (Australia), 11 November 2010.
"U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible for Patents," NY Times, 29 October 2010. Follow-up to this important story accessible here, dated 1 November 2010.
The journal Science has published a series of essays assessing the impact of NAGPRA twenty years after the law's enactment. Requires registration, but access to the articles is free. Issue dates to 7 October 2010.
From Australia, a struggle over patent rights in the Kakadu plum now claimed by Mary Kay cosmetics. 20 October 2010.
IP Watch reports on the state of negotiations regarding the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). Dates to 8 October 2010 but posted here 20 October 2010.
Tiffany Jenkins has just published her bracingly against-the-grain study of changing policies regarding the display of human remains in museums, Contesting Human Remains in Museum Collections: The Crisis of Cultural Authority (Routledge). Jenkins also blogs on these issues, and her posts include a memorable discussion of demands by Neo-druids that certain archaeological specimens held by museums be reburied. 20 October 2010.
From Aotearoa/New Zealand: "The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has recently issued an update on the Action Plan on Traditional Knowledge Implementation." Meanwhile, an important court decision on indigenous claims to special rights to NZ flora and fauna appears imminent. 20 October 2010.
The New York Times reports that after the recent sweat-lodge deaths in Sedona, Arizona, the number of tourists pursuing faux Native American ritual practices has declined precipitously in that mecca of alternative spirituality. 20 October 2010.
Latest on the long-running dispute over the Mount Graham International Observatory: "Apaches oppose telescope permit renewal," Eastern Arizona Courier, 29 September 2010.
Alex Diaz-Ferguson, "Traditional knowledge protection for African cultures," IP Brief, 23 September 2010.
An op-ed piece on the protection of Native identity in art and performance: Steve Russell (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), "The difference between things and performances," Indian Country Today, 22 September 2010.
Check out this blog post by Kevin Smith: "Can we protect 'traditional knowledge?' Should we?" 15 September 2010.
"African traditional knowledge and folklore given IP protection despite warning of TK commodification." Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch, 12 September 2010.
Dorothy Noyes of Ohio State U has written one of the smartest and most accessible assessments of the dynamics of traditional culture that I've ever seen: "CP 101: Traditional Culture: How Does it Work?" This emerged from her residency at the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Cultural Property in Göttingen. Not to be missed! (Thanks to Jason Baird Jackson for bringing this to my attention.)
"Fake snow a real sore point as Indians battle ski resort," Wall Street Journal, 28 August 2010. New developments in the ongoing struggle over public use of the San Francisco Peaks, sacred mountains of the Hopi Tribe and other indigenous peoples of the American Southwest.
"Bunny Wailer chants support for Rasta Millennium Council." Includes video clip and Wailer's comments about the importance of the Millennium Council to protect Rastafarian intellectual property. From the Jamaica Observer, 23 August 2010.
Indian Country Today has published an interview of Oglala Sioux attorney Brett Lee Shelton entitled "Parsing the Doctrine of Discovery." Shelton offers observations on the protection of indigenous genetic resources and the limits of using IP law to protect indigenous heritage. Note the following comment, with is entirely consistent with the principal argument of Who Owns Native Culture?:  "As a lawyer, you have to think on your feet and find creative solutions when problems arise. Courts and regulations aren’t always the best choice. Sometimes the answer may be negotiation. For example, in the late ’90s, the Native American Rights Fund worked with the National Parks Service to close Devil’s Tower to climbing during June, the time during which tribes associated with the site felt it was most important to restrict this activity. Public education, to create dialogue between Native and non-Native people, is also needed, in order to recruit as many allies as possible and alleviate opposition–which might not exist if understanding were advanced." 20 August 2010.
The NY Times Magazine recently published a fascinating piece on how BMI and ASCAP collect royalties for music played in restaurants, clubs, and other public venues--places that aren't always willing or financially secure enough to write a big check for background music. I've long argued that this kind of pragmatic system--messy but effective, with minimal administrative overhead--offers a useful path to securing financial justice for indigenous peoples, especially with respect to their biological and ecological knowledge. 6 August 2010.
From the Huffington Post: Wes Isley, "Native American Religion: For Members Only?" 15 July 2010.
The Wall Street Journal has published a funny and fascinating story about the status of efforts to secure trademark protection for varieties of Cannabis now that ganja has achieved quasi-legal status in some parts of the U.S. 19 July 2010.
Revived world market for uranium threatens sacred lands in New Mexico. BBC News, 16 July 2010.
"Wading into the Wandjina controversy," The Legal Report, ABC Radio, Australia. Audio and transcript of story about dust-up over public display of a sculpture said to portray spirit-beings important to several Aboriginal groups. The sculpture is inspired by and draws on regional cave paintings. 29 June 2010.
The government of Papua New Guinea is concerned about the planned auction of certain PNG artifacts by the de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco. The museum hopes to use the money raised by the sale of these items to settle a complicated inheritance dispute involving a major donor. 6 June 2010.
From the Oh-those-Canadians Department: The National Post reports that the Department of Canadian Heritage is seeking repatriation (via purchase) of a hockey jersey worn by a famous Canadian player during a memorable victory over the Soviet Union's team in 1972. 2 June 2010.
Available online: Mohan Dewan, "Socioeconomic changes effected by intellectual property rights--The Indian perspective." Among other things, the article tracks the case of a traditional Indian medicinal plant,Trichopus zeylanicus ssp. Travancoricus, locally known as Aarogyappacha, as its active ingredient worked it way through the national and global patent system. Link posted here on 28 May 2010.
The journal Ethnologia Europaea has published a special issue (39:2) focused on the theme "Culture and Property." The editors of the issue are Regina Bendix and Valdimar Hafstein. The journal is available only by subscription until three years after publication, at which point it is available open-access. 28 May 2010.
The entheogen community is buzzed on kambo (sometimes kambô), an Amazonian frog whose secretions have hallucinogenic properties. "Kambo Healing" has its own Facebook page in Italian, and there are doubtless others elsewhere on the web. A New York Times article on the possible economic value of kambo for Amazonian peoples appeared in 2006. 10 May 2010.
"WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee Opens With Hope For Text-Based Talks," by Kaitlin Mara. "Negotiators at the World Intellectual Property Organization this week will address longstanding efforts by many WIPO members to begin in earnest text-based negotiations for a tool to better protect traditional knowledge and genetic resources." Rest of story here. 3 May 2010.
Lynell Tuffery: "WAI 262: end of a long road for indigenous rights?" "In the next few weeks the Waitangi Tribunal is expected to issue its decision on the 262nd claim that it has received since its inception in 1975. The claim, commonly referred to as WAI 262, raises certain significant IP issues for the first time in New Zealand." Rest of story here. 4 May 2010.
A terrific article by Jason Baird Jackson has just been made available on-line (PDF): "Boasian Ethnography and Contemporary Intellectual Property Debates." The essay appears in an issue of the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, in a section entitled Cultural Subjects and Objects: The Legacy of Franz Boas and its Futures in Anthropology, Academe, and Human Rights, edited by Carol Greenhouse. 30 April 2010.
"Indian tribe wins fight to limit research on its DNA." New York Times, 21 April 2010. Includes multimedia elements.
Abiola Inniss, "Caribbean IP--Protecting Traditional Knowledge." CaribbeanNetNews, 22 April 2010.
New Mexico declares that its cultural property encompasses objects on the moon! Various items left at Tranquility Base by US astronauts are said to have a strong connection to the Land of Enchantment. Mercury News, 13 April 2010.
NAGPRA: An important retrospective on NAGPRA by noted legal scholar Steven J. Gunn, "The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act at 20: Reaching the Limits of our National Consensus, " Wm Mitchell Law Review, 2010, available open access; and information on new federal regulations for dealing with "culturally unaffiliated" human remains, distributed by the Association on American Indian Affairs, 15 April 2010.
The US track record with respect to indigenous sacred sites has recently been reviewed at a conference sponsored by the University of New Mexico Law School. Indian Country Today, 1 April 2010, posted here 12 April 2010.
Recently published in the Visual Anthropology Review (V. 25, no. 2, late 2009), "Contemporary Native artists and international biennial culture," by Bill Anthes of Pitzer College. This essay explores the tensions, contradictions, and possibilities raised by the growing participation of Native artists in cosmopolitan art exhibitions. Not OA, unfortunately, and readers must have an Anthrosource login or access to a library site license.
From, "Cultural preservation: A growing imperative," an interview of the anthropologist Richard Kurin, Under-Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution. Dates to 16 March but posted here on 12 April 2010.
Beginning of the end of gene patents in the United States? Probably not, but an unusual court decision prompts the question. 30 March 2010.
Just published: Daphne Zografos, Intellectual Property and Traditional Cultural Expressions. 30 March 2010.
"When Scholarship and Tribal Heritage Face Off Against Commerce." This New York Times story deals with a prehistoric Indian mound (whose man-made status is questioned by some experts) that was destroyed to accommodate construction of a shopping center in Oxford, Alabama. 15 March 2010. interviews Dr. V. K. Gupta, Director of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, who argues that the TKDL has essentially solved the problem of biopiracy in India. The interview provides useful information on a number of pending patent cases. 15 March 2010.
Kimberly Alderman, who authors the Cultural Property and Archaeology Law Blog, has published several articles on cultural property that are available for full-text download. Among them: "Ethical issues in cultural property law pertaining to indigenous peoples" (Idaho Law Review 45, 2009), and "The Ethical Trade in Cultural Property: Ethics and Law in the Antiquity Auction Industry," ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law 14, 2008.
A September 2009 story in Indian Country Today reported on the decision to remove several venerable dioramas depicting Native American life in Michigan from the University of Michigan's Natural History Exhibits Museum. A recent UM publication adds a thoughtful footnote to that decision by discussing the way the museum chose to approach the problem: Maryanne George, "People Frozen in Time: What To Do When a Native American Display Brings More Controversy than Education." Link added here on 22 February 2010.
Latest salvo in the process of rethinking copyright: William Patry's Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (Oxford U Press, 2009). I haven't had a chance to read it yet, and there's nothing in the publicity literature or early reviews to suggest that the author has much to say about the special problems that copyright poses for indigenous communities. Still, this sounds like an A-list book for anyone just getting interested in intellectual property and its dilemmas.

The UCLA-based legal scholar Angela R. Riley has published a compelling op-ed piece in the NY Times about the impact of the Twilight vampire novels and films on the Quileute Nation of Washington State. The Quileute name is being used on tee-shirts and other Twilight-related products without producing significant financial benefits for the Quileute people themselves. 8 February 2010.

twilight poster
Another one to check out: Adrian Johns, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates (Univ. of Chicago Press), 2010. An interview with Johns was posted at Inside Higher Ed on February 3, 2010.
Important new book: Eduardo M. Peñalver and Sonia K. Katyal , Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership (Yale University Press), late 2009.
A nice piece appeared in the L.A. Times about how the documentary work of the eccentric anthropologist John Peabody Harrington (1884-1961) has proved to be an invaluable resource for Chumash people as they try to conserve and reconstruct their traditional culture. Includes video clip. 31 January 2010.
Sacred-Sites International has added a blog to its website. Also worth a look is the terrific website of the Sacred Land Film Project. 29 January 2010.
From the Wall Street Journal, an opinion piece by Eric Felten on the dust-up over the Russian skaters' homage to Aboriginal culture. Felten, although hardly a defender of the poor taste shown by Domnina and Shabalin, makes a qualified case for cosmopolitanism and against the notion that "a style, an idiom, or a cultural aesthetic is the province of a race or ethnicity." 29 January 2010.
Russian skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are accused of "cultural theft" and offending Aboriginal culture after presentation of Aboriginal-themed skating routine at St. Petersburg several weeks ago. The Herald Sun, Australia, 21 January 2010. [Added 22 January: is carrying an article on the same controversy.]
Kim Christen's blog Long Road calls attention to two interesting stories. The first is a program called the Hopi Music Repatriation Project. The second is about the decision by Starbucks to stop sale of a line of coffee mugs imprinted with designs from Mexican prehistory that had apparently been reproduced without securing permission of the Mexican government, which holds the relevant copyrights. Related to the latter story, see also the Telegraph (Belfast, N. Ireland).
From Indian Country Today: Rick Kearns, "Bolivia launches traditional medicines programs," 14 January 2010.
Interesting paper on biopiracy, although you may need a login: Daniel F. Robinson, "Locating biopiracy: Geographically and culturally situated knowledges," Environment and Planning A, Vol. 42, 2010.
Here's a podcast of a 2008 interview of indigenous anthropologist Marge Bruchac (U Conn-Avery Point) about the special challenges of NAGPRA repatriation cases in New England. The interviewer is J. Kehaulani Kauanui (Wesleyan U.). Posted here 4 January 2010.
Several articles on indigenous IP have been published in the Texas Wesleyan Law Review, Vol. 15, 2009. Tracking them is a challenge because the journal's website isn't up-to-date. Some pre-prints: John T. Cross, "Justifying property rights in Native American traditional knowledge"; Daniel Austin Green, "Indigenous intellect: Problems of calling knowledge property and assigning it rights"; Danielle M. Conway, "Indigenizing intellectual property law: Customary law, legal pluralism, and the protection of indigenous peoples' rights, identity, and resources." 4 January 2010.
From NGO Pulse: "Indigenous cultural entrepreneurship in South Africa," December 2009. If you want a comprehensive, nuanced analysis of how (indigenous) culture has become a commodity in S. Africa and everywhere else, beg, borrow, or steal a copy of John L. and Jean Comaroff's Ethnicity, Inc. (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
"Maori artists set on reclaiming Toi Iho Trademark,", 14 December 2009.
Not to be missed: Michael Goldsmith (University of Waikato), "Who owns native nature? Discourses of rights to land, culture, and knowledge in New Zealand." Int. Journ. of Cultural Property 16 (2009): 325-339. This is just one article in a special issue of the IJCP entitled "Pacific discourses about cultural heritage and its protection," edited by Toon van Meijl.
Kaitlin Mara, "WIPO traditional knowledge negotiators dodging roadblocks,", 10 December 2009.
Just out and important: Steven Conn, Do Museums Still Need Objects? University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.
From the New York Times: "In twist, tribe fights for college nickname," 8 December 2009. Story about efforts of some Sioux to protect the "Fighting Sioux" nickname of the University of North Dakota. Update on this story, 12/19/2009.
Ben Macintyre, "Where the Rosetta belongs can't be set in stone," 10 December 2009, The Times (London). The case for non-repatriation of the Rosetta Stone.
Kenya's leading paper publishes an op-ed piece questioning the wisdom of trying to protect "traditional culture" through specific constitutional provisions: Rasna Warah, "Culture can't be captured in any constitution," Daily Nation, 29 November 2009.
The UN continues to struggle over the legal status of traditional knowledge: "UN Biodiversity negotiators to work from single text on access, benefits," IP Watch, 24 November 2009.
More on the Sedona sweat-lodge deaths: "Council resolution condemns exploiters of sweat lodges," Indian Country Today, 23 November 2009.
Don't miss the terrific New Yorker piece, "The Taste Makers," by Raffi Khatchadourian. The author describes the work of professional "flavorists" who search the world for distinctive flavors that can be added to new beverages and foods, sometimes generating tens of millions of dollars in revenues. The author isn't interested in the bioprospecting/biopiracy implications of this industrial activity, but I'm sure that someone will be. 23 November 2009.
For the Arizona Republic, John Faherty reports on the challenges of studying and occasionally protecting ancient cultural remains on a remote Arizona bombing range, 22 November 2009.
John Tierney, "A case in antiquities for 'finders keepers'," New York Times, 16 November 2009.
The blog Don't Pay to Pray describes a lawsuit launched by the Lakota Nation against James Arthur Ray for his use of the sweat lodge ceremony in his New Age workshops--including the recent Sedona disaster in which several participants lost their lives. The post includes PDFs of various statements and relevant documents. 14 November 2009.
Wampanoags resist wind turbine project: "The Wampanoag or "The People of the First Light" ... are asking the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to help them classify Nantucket Sound as traditional cultural property, a designation that could permanently becalm Cape Wind's project. Part of their bid to convert the Sound into sacred ground stems from the Wampanoag belief that the turbine generators' monopoles would be pounded 80 to 100 feet into the bottom in a Native American burial ground dating back to when the Wampanoag lived on what was then land." Update, 8 November: This emerging cultural property dispute has inspired a tsunami of articles and op-ed pieces in New England. Among them a skeptical editorial from the Boston Globe, as well as articles in Indian Country Today, the Associated Press, and letters to the New York Times.
"Bears, bombs and popcorn: Some considerations when mining other cultures for source materials," by Judith Berman. This short essay didn't get on my radar screen when it was published about three years ago. Definitely worth a look today. 16 November 2009.
Lawrence Lessig calls for a "copyright revolution." Inside Higher Education, 6 November 2009.
From the Wall Street Journal: "Cheap jewelry imports vex artisans in Southwest." Article about the flood of fake American Indian jewelry imported from abroad and its impact on Southwestern Indian artisans. November 2, 2009.
Useful article that I missed when it came out two years ago: Sharon Haensly, "Off-reservation cultural property protection." Indian Country Today, 1 Nov. 2007, linked here 31 October 2009.
Brief and provocative "Key Sentences" report from Free Culture Research Workshop 2009, held at Harvard on October 23. From Blawgdog, 29 October 2009. Addendum, Nov. 2: Be sure to see Kim Christen's blog post on Open Access and its multiple, contested meanings in the indigenous context.
"Nepal losing patent right on herbal medicines." Himalayan Times, 28 October 2009.
Jane Anderson, author of Law, Knowledge, Culture (2009), has posted the essay "(Colonial) Archives and (Copyright) Law" in the out-there art blog No More Pot Lucks, 28 October 2009.
"Is UNESCO damaging the world's treasures?" From the Telegraph, UK, April 2009, linked here 15 October 2009.
The Yale Law Journal (Vol. 118, 2009) just has published one of the most important articles on the legal status of indigenous knowledge in many years: "In Defense of Property," by Kristen A. Carpenter, Sonia K. Katyal, and Angela R. Riley. This (long) article is available as a full-text PDF. I'll have more to say about this essay later, but it is arguably the best legal case that has been made for comprehensive ownership by Native Americans of their traditional cultural expressions. Not to be missed!

Cultural appropriation may be hazardous to your health. Two die, others injured during New Age sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona, AZ. 13 October 2009. More on the story, 21 October 2009.

Some of the key players in Shaman Pharmaceuticals, whose approach to Amazonian bioprospecting is discussed in Who Owns Native Culture?, are now pivotal figures in Napo Pharmaceuticals. Here is a story about a recent conference related to their ongoing clinical development of the "proprietary patented gastrointestinal compound, crofelemer . . ., a first-in-class anti-secretory agent extracted from Croton lechleri, a medicinal plant sustainably harvested in several South American countries." 7 October 2009.
Rastafarians want to control their heritage, by Paul H. Williams. The Gleaner, 20 September 2009. Story about how the Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union Millennium Council is seeking "to secure, protect and manage the intellectual property of the Rastafari community worldwide, for the benefit of the Rastafari community worldwide; and to take all such actions as are necessary and appropriate to prevent the further theft and abuse of the symbols, emblems, music, cultural marks, tangible and intangible heritage of the Rastafari community worldwide."

Discovered while trolling the web:

  • A website about the Indian Motorcyle trademark and efforts to revive it in ways that would benefit Native Americans. (Site hasn't been modified since 2005, and I'm not sure about the status of this proposal four years later.)
  • "Mapping the New Commons," by Charlotte Hess (Syracuse University Library), July 2008. Abstract and article available via the Social Science Research Network. From the abstract: "Tracking new commons over several years has demonstrated that this vast arena is inhabited by heterogeneous groups from divergent disciplines, political interests, and geographical regions that are increasingly finding the term 'commons' crucial in addressing issues of social dilemmas, degradation, and sustainability of a wide variety of shared resources. The resource sectors include scientific knowledge, voluntary associations, climate change, community gardens, wikipedias, cultural treasures, plant seeds, and the electromagnetic spectrum."
The University of Michigan Natural History Museum has been pressured to remove its dioramas of Native American life not because they are inaccurate, but because (among other reasons), Indians "were still being represented as tiny miniatures in boxes, sort of like hamsters, some said. And they were being portrayed in the context of dinosaur bones, rocks and dead, stuffed birds." Indian Country Today, 14 September 2009.
The Wall Street Journal published an interesting story about Korean efforts to promote its alphabet by teaching it to speakers of the endangered Cia-Cia language, a previously unwritten tongue considered endangered.
The extent to which NAGPRA excludes unrecognized Indian tribes from the repatriation process is now being recognized: "NAGPRA's nasty loophole," Indian Country Today, posted here 14 September 2009.
Who says that culture hasn't become property? Malaysia and Indonesia in war of words over ownership of pendet dance. 14 September 2009.
Walmart destroys Native American sacred sites to build new stores in several states. Institute for Southern Studies, 3 September 2009.
"FBI investigating ads offering Maine Indian scalps." Associated Press, 4 September 2009.
A must-read online article: Haidy Geismar (NYU) on cultural protocols for using and circulating photographs, especially those sourced in indigenous communities. 3 September 2009.
"Indonesia drafting bill to protect its heritage." Jakarta Globe, 31 August 2009.
"Who should own antiquities?" by David Bollier. Dates to May but linked here 3 September 2009.
The International Journal of Cultural Property keeps publishing great articles on indigenous IP and cultural property. The latest issue (Vol. 16, Issue 2) focuses on the cultural significance of ownership of genetic information and includes articles by Julie Hallowell, George Nicholas, Spencer Wells, Theodore Schurr, Kimberly TallBear, Ripan Malhi, Dorothy Lippert, Jonathan Marks, Jenny Reardon, and Jane Anderson. These essays aren't available as open access documents as far as I know, but your library may have access rights. If you're interested in controversies about control of genetic information sourced in indigenous populations, it may be worth buying the entire issue directly from Cambridge University Press. 24 August 2009.
Peru and Bolivia at odds over authentic cultural origin of beauty-pageant contestants' costumes. Which country owns La Diablada? Wall Street Journal, 21 August 2009.
"Biopirates grab illegal patents for African indigenous knowledge." DispatchOnline, South Africa, 12 August 2009.

Here's an essay that wins the prize for radically speculative thinking about heritage and its protection: Dirk H.R. Spennemann, "Of great apes and robots: Considering the future(s) of cultural heritage," Futures 39 (2007): 861-877. Unfortunately, it lies behind the subscription wall of (gasp!) Elsevier. Here's the abstract:

Because cultural heritage management is an inherently retrospective discipline, too many valuable heritage places were lost because they are not recognised and assessed in time. This paper advances strategic thinking in cultural heritage management by addressing two on-the-horizon and over-the-horizon issues: the management of artefacts created by our closest relatives, the great apes; and the management of artefacts created in the future by the first artificial intelligence (AI)-imbued, self-reflecting robots. Given the increasing understanding that chimpanzees have cultures and traditions in tool use, there is a need to recognise their heritage value in reference to human evolution. Likewise, it is now also time to explore how we are going to deal with the non-human, robotid artefacts. The contemplation of the role of non-human heritage will ultimately foster a re-appraisal of human heritage. The paper outlines some of the conceptual issues that need to be addressed if our heritage is to have an ethical future.

Looks like another article by Spennemann exploring similar themes may be accessible here.

WIPO helping the Maasai to copyright and market traditional music and oral histories . Reuters India, 30 July 2009.
Summertime silliness: has published an article by Robert Wright entitled "Do shamans have more sex? New Age spirituality is no more pure than old-time religion." It first appears to be a dig at neo-shamans but ends up as a skeptic's view of shamanism everywhere. 29 July 2009.
Now out: James Cuno, editor, Whose Culture? The Promise of Museums and the Debate over Antiquities (Princeton University Press, 2009). My own contribution to the volume, "Exhibiting Indigenous Heritage in the Age of Cultural Property," can be downloaded full-text here.
Worth a look, even if the thoughtful argument isn't entirely convincing: Randall Mayes, "In defense of patenting DNA: A pragmatic libertarian perspective," 26 July 2009.
An unusually balanced, thoughtful paper on bioprospecting in Africa, available as an open-access journal article: Hanspeter C.W. Reihling, "Bioprospecting in the African Renaissance: The new value of muthi in South Africa, " Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 4, 2008. Added here 15 July 2009.
Toni O'Loughlin, "Uluru's secrets must be preserved," from The Guardian, UK. Discusses controversial plan to ban climbing on Australia's most famous geographical feature. 12 July 2009.
Latha Jishnu, "Dilemma on traditional knowledge," Business Standard, India. More on WIPO's lack of progress in dealing with the protection of TK. 8 July 2009.

Two important recent publications:

"WIPO Work Likely To Continue On Traditional Knowledge, But How?" by Kaitlin Mara. From, 30 June 2009.
The Elgin/Parthenon Marbles are back in the news as Greece celebrates the opening of its new Acropolis Museum. Hard to see how the British Museum can resist the growing pressure to repatriate its share of the marbles. I don't often agree with Christopher Hitchens these days, but his recent articles in Vanity Fair and elsewhere, as well as his new book on the case, present powerful arguments for bringing back together the elements of this single work of art. 29 June 2009.
"UN accused of shutting out indigenous groups." The International Institute for Environment and Development issues report claiming that the UN and WIPO have shown themselves unwilling to adapt IP laws to accommodate the special needs of indigenous communities seeking to protect traditional knowledge. 29 June 2009.
From the all-publicity-is-good-publicity department: Brief quote from Brown and Bruchac, "NAGPRA from the middle distance" (2006), in the online essay "Anthropologists as good guys," by Elizabeth Weiss, History News Network, 22 June 2009. The essay draws on themes that Weiss explores in Reburying the Past: The Effects of Repatriation and Reburial on Scientific Inquiry, 2008.
WIPO announces the publication of Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Peoples, which is available for download from the WIPO website. 7 June 2009, added here 23 June.
From New Scientist: "Poor farmers to guard Earth's crop riches," by Andy Coghlan. Dated 13 June 2009, posted here 23 June.
Another unpublished open-access paper by Elizabeth Burns Coleman: "Disrupting the order of the world: Religious symbols and blasphemy." PDF, dated 2008.
Tales of ongoing weirdness in the world of IP : (1) EU Plaintiffs duke it out over ownership of the concept of chocolate bunnies (second story here); (2) ASCAP may want you to pay royalties for downloaded ringtones, on the grounds that cell phone sounds constitute a "public performance." 23 June 2009. I'd love to know whether such stories induce at least a moment of queasiness in those determined to turn traditional cultural expressions into a form of conventional intellectual property.
Campaign to have Mount Taylor, New Mexico, designated as a Traditional Cultural Property succeeds. The Cibola Beacon, Grants, NM, explains the rationale for the new status. 23 June 2009.
Stephen R. Munzer and Phyllis C. Simon, "Territory, plants, and land-use rights among the San of Southern Africa: A case study of regional biodiversity, traditional knowledge, and intellectual property." William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 17, 2009. Available full text.
Interesting (if not so new) law review article, apparently available full-text: "Lindsey L. Wiersma, "Indigenous lands as cultural property: A new approach to indigenous land claims." Duke Law Review, vol. 54, 2005.
"Washington Redskins win trademark dispute in D.C. Circuit," 15 May 2009 but posted here 10 June.
Cultural appropriation runs off the rails: has a funny (if predictably snarky) piece by Ron Rosenbaum on the 12/12 doomsday meme, supposedly based on Maya calendrical and prophetic traditions. If you have a taste for this kind of existential silliness, look here and here. For a Euro-Indigenous prophecy video, check this at YouTube. 22 May 2009, posted here 28 May.
New and useful reference site: International Foundation for Art Research's "Art Law and Cultural Property," which points visitors to relevant legislation and case law from around the world. 13 May 2009.
More on the risks of digitizing anything: Now books are being pirated on the web. New York Times, 11 May 2009.
In recent months there has been considerable public debate in New Mexico about whether Mount Taylor should be registered as a traditional cultural property. The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides information here; information on property-owner opposition and responses to it can be read here and here. 4 May 2009.
Online documentary: The Green Gold Rush/La Fiebre del Oro Verde, co-production of Swiss NGO Volunteers Overseas and the Bolivian government. Downloadable in multiple formats. 28 April 2009.
Just out and definitely worth a look: Jane E. Anderson, Law Knowledge, Culture: The Production of Indigenous Knowlege in Intellectual Property Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, April 2009).
"The limits of moral arguments for rights from culture and religion," (PDF) a paper by Elizabeth Burns Coleman, who has written extensively and incisively about indigenous IP issues. No background provided on the audience for which this essay was written; it appears to date to 2008.
The New York Times of April 14 carries a story on Hueco Tanks State Historical Site in Texas, which has tried, with varying degrees of success, to develop policies that balance use of the park by rock climbers and protection of pictographs and petroglyphs that are important to various Indian tribes.

The AAA's Anthropology Newsletter, April 2009, has published a raft of complementary essays under the rubric of "Visual Ethics." These are currently available full-text on an open-access basis. I'm not sure whether they fall back behind the subscription wall next month. If they do, Christen's terrific article, at least, should be available via her blog Long Road.

  • Kimberly Christen, "Access and Accountability: The Ecology of Information Sharing in the Digital Age"
  • Kate Hennessy, "Virtual Repatriation and Digital Cultural Heritage: The Ethics of Managing Online Collections"
  • Bridget McDonnell, "Ethical Considerations in Collaborative Visual Work: Developing the Somali Lenses Photo Exhibition"
  • Georgina Drew, "Whose Representation? Power and Voice in a Photojournalism Project"
  • Marilyn Walker, "Spirit Matters: The Ethics of Photographing Unseen Worlds"
  • Livia Hinegardner, "Engaging Ethnographic Film: The Ethics of Constructing Dramatic Tension"
For those who think it will be easy to stop the piracy of indigenous cultural productions, a cautionary tale from the New York Times: "Digital Piracy Spreads, and Defies a Fix," 6 April 2009. If the world's most powerful media companies can't stem piracy, what are the odds for the Aranda or the Kayapó?
Peripheral to indigenous IPR but still worth reading: Philippe Descola's online essay, "Who Owns Nature?" Dates to early 2008; linked here April 2009.
Protests about a "Go Native" party organized by Burning Man group. From East Bay Express: "More than fifty Bay Area Native American rights activists converged on the historic East Oakland property at 9:30 p.m. to ensure the shutdown of popular Burning Man group Visionary Village's "Go Native!" party. The fired-up Hopis, Kiowas and other tribal members spent more than four hours lecturing the handful of white, college-class Burners about cultural sensitivity until some of them simply broke down crying . . . . " Rest of the story here. Rex of the blog Savage Minds picks up the debate here. See also this from the blog Stuff White People Do. 3 April 2009.
To defend its traditional cuisine, the ancient walled city of Lucca, in Tuscany, denies access to immigrant-owned restaurants. Is this heritage protection or discrimination against immigrants? New York Times, 13 March 2009.
Available full-text (PDF) from the IJCP: "Intellectual Property Rights Systems and the Assemblage of Local Knowledge Systems," by Saskia Vermeylen, George Martin, and Roland Clift, 2008. From the abstract: "The mounting loss of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples presents environmental as well as ethical issues. Fundamental among these is the sustainability of indigenous societies and their ecosystems . . . One reason for this is an unresolved conflict between two perspectives. In the modernist view, traditional knowledge is a tool to use (or discard) for the development of indigenous society, and thereforeit must be subordinated toWestern science. Alternatively, in the postmodernist view, it is harmonious with nature, providing a new paradigm for human ecology, and must be preserved intact.We argue that this encumbering polarization can be allayed by shifting from a dualism of traditional and scientific knowledge to an assemblage of local knowledge, which is constituted by the interaction of both in a third space. We argue that IPR can be reconfigured to become the framework for creating such a third space." 10 April 2009.
"The WAI 262 Flora and Fauna Claim," an online document that discusses the implications of a longstanding judicial process that could define and ratify Maori rights to the flora and fauna of New Zealand/Aotearoa, 10 March 2009. A UN briefing paper on this issue can be accessed here (PDF) .
Just happened upon this open-access law review article: Jennie D. Woltz, "How should the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 be marketed?" 2007.
This is a bit of a stretch for indigenous IP, but I found this blog post, "Newspapers and thinking the unthinkable," by Clay Shirky, provocative for what it implicitly says about prospects for protecting indigenous IP by following old and increasingly obsolete models of copyright. If the world's once-powerful newpapers are collapsing, it should be obvious that original thinking will be required to manage "traditional cultural expressions" in the face of the Internet and other disruptive technologies. 17 March 2009.
I came upon a provocative and thoughtful post, now nearly a year old, in the Australian blog Artwranglers. It deals with the appropriation of Western art forms by Aboriginal artists, including Richard Birrinbirrin. The blogger (who I believe is Nigel Lendon), observes, "But when Aboriginal artists (or their agents) appropriate the look of the art of another culture, or when the art is no longer grounded in the prior motivation of a coded narrative, a disconnection between tradition, representation and abstraction has occurred." You can see the entire illustrated post here, as well as the follow-up discussion. Linked to this site 2 March 2009.
Indigenous activists seek indigenous top-level domain on Web. Site making the case for this: 20 February 2009.
The website IPWatch has posted an interview with legal scholar James Boyle on the future of the public domain, "The last defence of the IP system." Dated 28 January, posted here 18 February.
The Washington Post carried a slightly snarky story on efforts by a descendant of Geronimo to have his skull repatriated to the family for reburial. The location of the skull is disputed, although one possibility is that it is held by Yale's elite and secretive Skull & Bones society. The AP version of the story is here. 18 February 2009.
An interesting piece by Francis Deblauwe in the Alexandria Archive blog, dating to early January 2009, about the real and the fake in Chinese terracottas currently being exhibited in Hamburg.
Lots of stories on the New Zealand decision to provide legal protection for the haka, a Maori war dance associated in recent years with the rugby team All Blacks: Here's one from The Guardian (UK), another from the Sunday Star Times, a third from The Independent (UK), 15 February 2009.
Published recently in the American Ethnologist (35 [4]: 607-631, 2008): Lorraine V. Aragon and James Leach, "Arts and owners: Intellectual property law and the politics of scale in Indonesian arts." Not Open Access but available to members of the AAA and others who have access to research libraries. Posted here 11 February 2009.
Online videos about cultural appropriation: Looks like the documentary White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men is now viewable, at least in part, on YouTube.  See also the short documentary How Inappropriate! and another, Iktome Returns, and another, Spirits for Sale. 5 February 2009.
Article by Robert L. Ostergard, Jr., Matthew Tubin, and Patrick Dikirr, "Between the Sacred and the Secular: Ancient Intellectual Property and the Modern African State," available full-text here. Apparently dates to 2005 but linked here February 2009.
"Cultural appropriation of the kick-ass kind," from Ethan Zuckerman's blog "My Heart's in Accra," 4 October 2008, linked here 22 January 2009. Maori haka as performed by Texas football team that includes a significant number of Tongan players. Post includes video of performance.
Vesna Jaksic, "As Canada's native peoples assert rights, companies make concessions.", 7 January 2009. This article includes references to successful efforts by Native communities to protect their traditional knowledge.
Unilever pulls out of Hoodia development after its studies include that the indigenous miracle weight-loss extract is dangerous and ineffective. Business Day, Johannesburg, 22 December 2008.
Important article by Julie Hollowell and George Nicholas: "Intellectual Property Issues in Archaeological Publication: Some Questions to Consider," Archaeologies, 4(2), 2008 [Not an open-access publication, unfortunately].
Sharon R. Sherman, "Who Owns Culture and Who Decides? Ethics, Film Methodology, and Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection." Western Folklore, Spring 2008. [Doesn't appear to be an open-access journal, but the full text can be read a screen at a time if you follow the link to,
In Australia, a tussle over IP rights in indigenous languages: "Puzzled publisher at a loss for words.", 19 December 2008.
FeiFei Jiang, "The Problem with Patents: Traditional Knowledge and International IP Law." Harvard International Review, Fall 2008, posted here 2 January 2009.
Shamnad Basheer, "Creating ‘informal’ IP norms: Current intellectual property rules largely cater to what might be termed the ‘formal’ economy.", 23 December 2008.

Two recent, downloadable articles by archaeologist Alexander A. Bauer, Queens College/CUNY, and co-authors:

The recession meets cultural appropriation: video story from the Washington Post about a financial planner who also practices shamanism. 7 December 2008. (Not sure how long this link will remain viable.)
"Indonesian government promises bill to protect culture." Jakarta Post, 4 December 2008.
Sharon Waxman, "How Did That Vase Wind Up in the Metropolitan?" New York Times, 1 December 2008.
On the disposition and study of Native American blood samples: "Whose Blood Is It?" by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 1 December 2008.
Protecting sacred lands: "Shoshone Indians Sue to Stop Barrick's Nevada Gold Mine," By Lisa J. Wolf, Environment News Service, 24 November 2008.
"IP laws not helping indigenous people protect traditional knowledge," in November 13, 2008.
On bioprospecting and patents: "There's gold in them there trees," by Jon Evans. In The Walrus, Canada, 17 November 2008. [But yikes! The author retells the same bogus biopiracy story about the rosy periwinkle. Is there no way to drive a stake through the heart of this urban legend?]
Some recently published law review articles with links to abstracts:
Marc. R. Poirer, "The Cultural Property Claim within the Same Sex Marriage Controversy."
Peter K. Yu, "Cultural Relics, Intellectual Property, and Intangible Heritage."
Rebecca Bratspies, "The New Discovery Doctrine: Some Thoughts on Property Rights and Traditional Knowledge." 10 November 2008.
"Monsanto battles biopiracy claims: The Andhra Pradesh Biodiversity Board is seeking royalty payments from Monsanto India Ltd for genetic information it alleges was ‘stolen’ from Bt bacteria found in the soils of Mahanandi village in Kurnool district.", 30 October 2008.
Bob Gosford's blog The Northern Myth, posted from the Northern Territory, Australia, has a detailed entry on the pros and cons of the government's proposal to institute resale royalties for Aboriginal artists. 7 November 2008.
Will art resale royalties help or hurt Aboriginal artists? From The Australian, 24 October 2008.
"WIPO poised to move on talks on potential traditional knowledge 'treaty.'" Intellectual Property Watch, 17 October 2008.
The conflict over ownership of the Preah Vihear temple has become a shooting war between Thailand and Cambodia. CNN, 15 October 2008.
I can't resist noting a recent story in the Wall Street Journal: "Switzerland's Green Power Revolution: Ethicists Ponder Plants' Rights." Apparently a Swiss report argues that scientists should consider plants' dignity when conducting genetic and botanical research. Can special rights for indigenous plants be far behind? 16 October 2008.
More interesting work on indigenous cultural/intellectual property in the latest issue of the IJCP:
Josephine Asmah, "Historical threads: Intellectual property protection of traditional textile designs: The Ghanaian experience and African perspectives," and Olivier Amiel, "A Maori head: Public Domain?" 3 October 2008.
New article: Chidi Oguamanam, "Local knowledge as trapped knowledge: Intellectual property, culture, power, and politics." Journal of World Intellectual Property 11: 29-57, 2008 (Blackwell Synergy, which is not, alas, open access).
The International Expert Group on Biotechnology, Innovation and Intellectual Property, based in Canada, has issued a report, Toward a New Era of Intellectual Property: from Confrontation to Negotiation, which is designed to "assist policy-makers, industry, universities, researchers and NGOs in managing the transition from Old IP, under which companies and governments mistakenly believed that holding on to more and greater patents was the key to success, to New IP, in which actors recognise the importance of collaboration and sharing." 23 September 2008.
John Rapko has published a thoughtful Open-Access review of James O. Young's Cultural Appropriation and the Arts (Blackwell, 2008).
Australian company criticized for posting advertising images in front of Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock) in Second Life. (Images of Uluru, arguably Australia's most familiar geological feature, are considered the cultural property of the site's Aboriginal "owners.") 8 September 2008.
"Uproar over girls playing didgeridoo,", 2 September 2008.
The journal Cultural Anthropology has just published "The Anthropology of/in Circulation: The Future of Open Access and Scholarly Societies," an article about open access and related publishing issues that emerged from a multi-person exchange that included, in approximate order of the scale of his/her contribution, Christopher Kelty, Michael M.J. Fischer, Alex “Rex” Golub, Jason Baird Jackson, Kimberly Christen, Michael F. Brown, and Tom Boellstorff. A PDF copy of the article can be downloaded here; alternatively, you can read the text and then add your comment to the evolving blog by going here.
The University of Pennsylvania has announced the establishment of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, "dedicated to expanding scholarly and public awareness, discussion and debate about complex issues surrounding the world’s endangered cultural heritage," 25 August 2008.
Yet another chapter of the row over Prince Harry's "appropriation" of Aboriginal art.
Can UNESCO designation as World Heritage Site lead to a border war? News sources report that Cambodia and Thailand are facing off over control of the Preah Vihear temple and adjacent lands. (Thanks to Alex Bauer for bringing this story to my attention.)
The latest issue of the International Journal of Cultural Property (Vol 15, no. 2) is almost entirely focused on indigenous IP, cultural property, and museum policy issues, with emphasis on the Pacific. (Complete contents here.) It's headlined by an introductory essay by Haidy Geismar, guest editor, but includes other contributions of note. Not an Open Access journal, alas, but it may be accessible electronically via your public or university library. 22 July 2008.
A long blog entry on cultural appropriation and pseudo-Native American tarot decks. It's difficult to determine authorship from the page, but it appears to be Joan Schraith Cole and to date from 2004. Includes links to other sites about "plastic shamans." Added here 11 September 2008.
"IP laws creating 'bare medicine chest,'" according to Canadian study. 10 September 2008.
Pretty sleepy on the indigenous IP front . . . Must be summer! The website IP Watch published an update on recent work of the governing body of the Convention on Biological Diversity, with particular reference to indigenous peoples, 10 July 2008.
The Universities of Göttingen and Hamburg have established a multi-disciplinary project on cultural property. You can browse their website here.
Building on the success of the Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive, Kimberly Christen has helped to launch a new project, the Plateau Peoples' Web Portal, a "web-based environment that allows the Plateau Peoples' cultural materials held in Washington State University's special collections and the Museum of Anthropology to be curated by Plateau Tribes." The site is still sparsely documented but shows great promise. 11 August 2008.
The Dominion in Canada carried a story about indigenous demands directed to the G8 Summit, some of which deal with indigenous IP and sovereignty issues, 9 July 2008.
Journal article worth reading if you're interested in bioprospecting/biopiracy: "Bioprospecting: tracking the policy debate," by Rachel Wynberg and Sarah Laird. Environment 49.10 (Dec 2007): p20(13). It appears not to be an open-access publication.
"Let's all have tickets to the universal museum," Ben MacIntyre, The Times, London, 10 July 2008.
Interesting website for a University of Maine-based project called the Cross-Cultural Partnership, which among other things attempts to foster constructive conversation about use and non-use of Indigenous cultural elements: "Native peoples face a dilemma of how far to encourage the borrowing, reinterpretation, or commercialization of their heritage. It's a dilemma the Wabanaki of the American east coast face when deciding whether to permit chants to be remixed into new-age music; the Warlpiri of Australia face it when deciding whether to allow motifs from their songlines to be incorporated into acrylic fine-art paintings. A partnership can dictate the terms of such artistic re-use, to ensure any sacred emblems or motifs are used respectfully and with the measure and type of compensation appropriate for that culture." The project seems to originate in a wing of the New Media Department of U Maine, along with various Indigenous collaborators. Be sure to check it out. Posted here 18 June 2008.
At the blog I happened upon a provocative post about the cultural appropriation of indigenous religion in the context of neo-shamanism, paganism, and other new or revived forms of spirituality. Dates to November 2007 but linked here 2 June 2008.
"Indiana Jones and the plunder of cultural heritage." ScienceDaily, 29 May 2008. Caveat emptor: the Indian Jones stuff is a shameless come-on for an otherwise routine article about the promising Simon Fraser-based project "Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage."
Marc Lacey, NY Times, "Treasures of a nation, not fodder for an ad." On Mexico's control of images of its cultural heritage. 27 May 2008.
Edward Rothstein, "Antiquities: The world is your homeland," New York Times, 27 May 2008. More on James Cuno's book Who Owns Antiquity? and the implications of rigid definitions of cultural property.
"WHO bridges rich-poor intellectual property split." Reuters, 24 May 2008
The IJCP continues to publish important work on cultural property issues. Among recent articles is Elizabeth Willis's "The Law, Politics, and 'Historical Wounds': The Dja Dja Warrung Bark Etchings Case in Australia," which deals with an important Australian repatriation case dating to 2005. You can see the abstract here, although it's not clear whether the entire text is accessible without a subscription.
Tlingit warrior's helmet from 18th century sells for more than USD $2 million at auction, 20 May 2008.
Judge allows discrimination lawsuit brought by group of Native American women drummers to move forward. The plaintiffs allege that they have been discriminated against because male drummers from the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation excluded them from a powwow drum performance, citing culturally-based rules of gender exclusion. 10 May 2008; added here on 22 May.
From Xinhua News Service, China: UN/WIPO launches program to help indigenous communities manage their cultural heritage and IP interests, 20 May 2008.
Two fairly new websites that are focused on facets of heritage protection:
--Recalling Ancestral Voices, a Finnish site promoting repatriation of Sámi heritage, especially material culture.
--The blog Photoreturn, created by two Dutch scholars and dedicated to the repatriation of historical photographs. Not much content in either one yet, but worth checking out. 20 May 2008.

Be sure to read Evan Ratliff's, “Law of the Jungle,” Wired, June 2008, an article on the circumstances surrounding Brazil's prosecution (and persecution) of conservation biologist Marc van Roosmalen in connection with charges related to alleged biopiracy.

Ratliff’s article is first-rate, but like countless journalists before him, he repeats a yarn that now seems obligatory in stories about bioprospecting: that Eli Lilly “stole” the active ingredients of the rosy periwinkle from Madagascar and derived millions of dollars from this act of biopiracy without sharing any of the profits with its country of origin. This grossly oversimplified tale is endlessly repeated in books, articles, and websites, as I discovered years ago while doing background research for Who Owns Native Culture?  It is a canard that refuses to die. For those (few) who care about the moral complexity of drug discovery, here are the relevant paragraphs from WONC.  No, I am not a defender of biopiracy. But it's useful to get the facts right. published a link to an online lecture (60 min.+) by patent attorney Stephen Kinsella entitled "Rethinking Intellectual Property Completely." Parts of it are witty, and it raises interesting Lessig-esque questions about how (or whether!) we know that existing patent laws actually encourage innovation. 12 May 2008.
Salvia divinorum, an indigenous New World hallucinogen, has sparked the latest moral panic in the US. From, 6 May 2008: "The normally staid Associated Press attached a headline to a March 11 story that inquired, "Is Salvia the Next Marijuana?" If the AP meant to ask whether Salvia divinorum is the next misunderstood recreational drug to be both demonized and popularized by the press, the answer is yes." (Rest of article)
Excerpt from James Cuno's Who Owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2008). Wall Street Journal, 26 April 2008.
Brazil announces plan to control access to the Amazon to deter biopirates. BBC News, 26 April 2008.
"Australia stalls on indigenous copyright." The Age, 21 April 2008.
"Indigenous art sales stymied by heritage laws, say auction houses." The Age, Australia, 19 April 2008.
Scottish crofters are now petitioning to be considered an indigenous people of the British Isles. The Independent, 19 April 2008.
"New Technologies and the Protection and Promotion of Traditional Cultural Expressions," Mira Burri-Nenova, May 2007. Downloadable here.
Australia's opposition party pushes for plan to guarantee royalties for Aboriginal artists whose work increases in value through re-sale. ABC News, 4 April 2008. "The Opposition's Indigenous affairs spokeswoman, Sharman Stone, is meeting with Aboriginal artists in Darwin today. Dr Stone says making sure artists get fair payment for the rising value of their work is important for the future of the art industry. 'Each time the work of art changes hands, often for higher and higher values ... At the moment the artist gets nothing for that changing of hands, greater value or if the artist sadly deceases the next of kin don't get a look in for the increasing value of the work . . . ' " Rest of story here.

Just came upon a terrific Columbia Law Review article by Naomi Mezey:

The Paradoxes of Cultural Property (CLR 107.8, 2007, pp. 2000-2046)

Abstract: Many current cultural disputes sound in the legal language and logic of discrimination or hate speech. The focus of this Essay is on the claims made explicitly or implicitly on the basis of cultural property. The problem with using ideas of cultural property to resolve cultural disputes is that cultural property encourages an anemic theory of culture so that it can make sense as a form of property. Cultural property is a paradox because it places special value and legal protection on cultural products and artifacts but does so based on a sanitized and domesticated view of cultural production and identity. Within the logic of cultural property, each group possesses and controls—or ought to control—its own culture. This view of cultural property suggests a preservationist stance toward culture. This Essay argues against both of these assumptions and for a view of culture that takes account of its dynamisms, appropriations, hybridizations, and contaminations. As a corrective to the paradoxes of cultural property, this Essay offers a counternarrative of cultural fusion and hybridity. These themes are illustrated with an extended example of the regulation of Native American mascots generally and the invention of one such mascot— Chief Illiniwek—specifically.

The full article can be downloaded here. Definitely worth a close reading. 24 March 2008

Kim Christen's blog has a brief comment on the repatriation of human remains and a link to a recent article in the Australian which contends that the display or retention of human remains in the world's museums is now in decline. To this I would add that retention of the remains of indigenous peoples is the focal point of the repatriation movement. Thousands of skeletons of Europeans, dating to the middle ages and earlier, remain in museum collections, mostly without controversy, although a few pagan groups have begun to demand repatriation and pagan reburial of the remains of pre-Christian communities.
So even Danes have cultural property complaints!  Today's New York Times reports on the legacy of Sweden's military conquests, 11 March 2008.
From (1) a streaming video interview of Debra Harry, Indigenous People’s Council on Biocolonialism, and (2) a story about a recent meeting of indigenous representatives with WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, linked here on 11 March 2008.

Publications that you may have missed:
--A special issue of World Development (vol. 35, no. 9, 2007) entitled "Property Rights, Collective Action, and Local Conservation of Genetic Resources." Apparently available only by subscription.
--Barry Barclay's book Mana Tuturu: Maori Treasures and Intellectual Property Rights (2006), reviewed here by David Delgado Shorter.

"Code bolsters Indigenous art protection." ABC (Australia), 15 February 2008, posted here 6 March 2008.
More on (alleged) biopiracy in the Brazilian Amazon: "Brazil accuses Amazon scientists of theft," The Scotsman, 1 February 2008, posted here 11 February 2008.
Jacob Simet, "Respecting cultural protocol," The National (Papua New Guinea), 8 February 2008, posted 11 February 2008.
More on the Mukurtu Archive project from the ABC (Australia), 6 February 2008, posted here 11 February 2008.
If you like audio podcasts, be sure to go to BBC's Digital Planet for the interview of Kim Christen, who talks about the Mukurtu Archive project with which she's involved. You can also link to the interview through Kim's blog. The interview is dated 29 January, posted here 1 February 2008.
"Turning plants into pills in Kenya," by Tatum Anderson, SciDev.Net, 13 December 2007, posted here 31 January 2008.
More on ongoing controversy about a patent on wild rice, from the Ojibwe perspective: the article "Ricekeepers," by Winona LaDuke, originally published in Orion magazine in the July/August 2007 issue, linked here 15 January 2008.
An editorial in SciDev.Net argues that the world may have gone overboard in its campaign against biopiracy, creating legal tangles that slow legitimate research on biodiversity as well as ethically questionable bioprospecting. Dated 12 September 2007, posted here 15 January 2008.
The P2P Consortium recently featured an interview with Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, an anti-IPR group. 12 January 2008, posted here 15 January.
If you're interested in cultural hybridization and the difficulty of defining cultural boundaries, check out this story on the rise of Aboriginal hip-hop in Australia. 12 January 2008, posted here 15 January.
For state-of-the-art work in Aboriginally controlled archives, check out the newly launched Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive, still in beta but serviceable enough.  From the site's information page: "The Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive is a 'safe keeping place.' The archive uses the cultural protocols of the Warumungu people to arrange, sort, and present content. Any piece of content that is not marked "open" (and thus viewable by the general public) is tagged with a set of restrictions." Kudos to Kim Christen and her collaborators for bringing the rest of us into the future. 7 January 2008.
Dennis Ocholla, "Marginalized Knowledge: An Agenda for Indigenous Knowledge Development and Integration with Other Forms of Knowledge" (PDF file). International Review of Information Ethics, September 2007, posted here January 2008.  
The New York Times ran a recent story on the bioprospector Chris Kilham. The Times piece includes a brief audio slide show that may not be accessible indefinitely. "Medicine hunter" or biopirate? You decide--although the Times article states that Kilham has helped to increase the household income of grateful maca farmers in remote areas of highland Peru. 1 January 2008; posted here 4 January. 
More on how magicians, as well as chefs and professional comics, defend their intellectual property without resorting to copyrights and patents. By Daniel B. Smith in the Boston Globe, 23 December 2007, posted here 31 December 2007.
"Africa: Seed Sharing or Biopiracy?", 20 December 2007.
"Scientists build new model of bioexploration." From ScienceDaily, 13 December 2007.
Don't miss this: An eye-opening 45-minute video talk by Jerónimo Muñoz about the commercialization of Latin American shamanism and its impact on indigenous practitioners and their communities, "Ayahuasca and the Gringos," given at the 3rd Amazonian Shamanism Conference, Iquitos, 2007. Posted here 10 December 2007.

Farmers in Nagaland (NE India) on path to securing IP protection for "Naga King Chili," supposedly among the world's hottest chili peppers. Chilis from Nagaland reportedly score higher than 1 million Scoville units, the widely use scale for measuring the potency of chilis. By comparison a typical Habanero checks in at a wimpy 300,000 Scovilles. For a 2006 Times (London) story on chilis from Nagaland and Bangladesh, click here. Eat with caution! 17 December 2007.

[From "Pepper Profile: Naga Jolokia" by Harald Zoschke]

In the blog Ars Technica, Nate Anderson discusses a recent paper (PDF format) by the law professor John Tehranian, in which it is argued that the average American unknowingly violates copyright law scores of times a day. Original post dates to 19 November; posted here 7 December 2007.
New title on cultural heritage: Helaine Silverman and D. Fairchild Ruggles, eds., Cultural Heritage and Human Rights, Springer, 2008.
Inside Higher Education carries story entitled "Downloading Cultures," which reports on a panel at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association that considered the possibilities and ethical dilemmas of making cultural productions available on the Web and in other non-print media. 3 December 2007.
"Copyright law offers poor protection for aboriginal cultural property," by David Spratley, in Lawyers Weekly, 23 November 2007. This essay considers, among other things, recent efforts to control the reproduction of totem pole images in British Columbia. With thanks to Ed Labenski, whose blog is definitely worth a look. 29 November 2007.
An important set of symposium papers (not available as Open Access documents, unfortunately) appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of Law, Medicine, and Ethics under the heading "Genome Justice: Genetics and Group Rights." The special issue includes essays by Rebecca Tsosie, Joan L McGregor, and Kim TallBear, among others. Electronic copies of these essays may be available via your public or institutional library.
A forthcoming article by Aaron Schwabach, "Intellectual property piracy: Perception and reality in China, the United States, and elsewhere," is available full-text.  Schwabach makes a case against some U.S. claims that piracy of DVDs and CDs necessarily causes great financial harm to copyright-holders. 21 November 2007.
If you're interested in issues of IPR and the future of the public domain, pay a visit to the website of Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain.  16 November 2007.
Kim Christen is guest-blogging at, and her latest post is about Aboriginally controlled digital archives in Australia. Check it out! 9 November 2007.
By Thekla Hansen-Young, "Whose Name is it Anyway? Protecting Tribal Names from Cybersquatters." Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, Summer 2005. Added here 8 November 2007.
An article by Jill Koren Kelley, available full-text: "Owning the Sun: Can Native Culture be Protected Through Current Intellectual Property Law?" Journal of High Technology Law, 2007. Added here 8 November 2007.
See Kimberly Christen's blog Long Road for discussion of recent debate about whether the creation of a virtual Uluru in Second Life violates the religious principles or IP rights of relevant Aboriginal peoples in Australia.  See a related story here.
A French museum may be repatriating a Maori tatooed head--if the national government permits. New York Times, 26 October 2007.
On the protection of Indigenous heritage: A reply to Audra Simpson. Michael F. Brown, October 2007.
A must-read paper available full-text: Madhavi Sunder's "The invention of traditional knowledge," from Law and Contemporary Problems, Spring 2007. Note, too, that this issue contains useful shorter contributions by William Fisher and Siva Vaidhyanathan. 23 October 2007.
UN body fails to reach agreement on biopiracy treaty. From, 19 October 2007.
If you're interested in trade secrets and their possible application to indigenous knowledge, check out Tim Harford's "The conjurer's dilemma: How magicians protect their tricks," in, 13 October 2007.
Not very relevant to indigenous IPR but totally cool anyway: Website of the Acoustic Ecology Institute, which offers"access to news, academic research, public policy advocates, and articles and essays about sound and listening." I guess you could argue that it provides, among other things, information on how indigenous peoples can defend their rights to a world less afflicted by noise pollution.
"NGOs having major impact on WIPO agenda, panel says." By Paul Garwood in IP Watch, 5 October 2007.

"Is the crackdown on biopiracy protecting the rights of indigenous people or putting the freeze on beneficial science?" Kelly Hearn, From more than a year ago but posted here 3 October 2007 because it's still a question worth asking.

An international treaty to protect cultural heritage? From the Jakarta Post, 3 October 2007

Recent open-access papers on indigenous IPR by Preston Hardison:

Rastafarians seek IP protection for their style, colors, and traditions. Jamaica Gleaner, 16 September 2007.
Yale agrees to repatriate artifacts from Peru's Machu Picchu. New York Times, 17 September 2007.
A forthcoming title to keep your eye on: James O. Young, Cultural Appropriation and the Arts (December 2007, Blackwell).
Check out an interesting paper by Naveeda Khan, "Trespasses of the state: Ministering to theological dilemmas through the copyright/trademark." Published in the Sarai Reader 2005, an online journal with other articles that might be of interest to lit-crit/IPR mavens. Thanks to Sameena Mulla for the heads-up on this one.
Economists are now experts on everything. See, for example, Tim Hartford's "Rent-a-treasure: How to eliminate the black market in stolen antiquities,", 14 September 2007.
The hottest thing in Aboriginal art from Australia? "Car bonnet art"! From ABC, Australia, 10 September 2007.
"Intellectual property rights and traditional knowledge: The case of yoga," 2007, by Krishna Ravi Srinivas, is downloadable as a full-text PDF.  It originally appeared in the Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 47, pp. 2866-2871. 6 September 2007.
Check out Eric Kansa's recent essay, "Finding common ground in the digital commons,", 14 August 2007, posted here 6 September 2007.
In the "fight against biopiracy," Brazil is now prosecuting a scientist whose research has little if anything to do with patentable information. The New York Times, 28 August 2007.
More on yoga patents. From, 21 August 2007.
"Far From the Reservation, but Still Sacred?" By Nelson D. Schwartz. New York Times, 12 August 2007.
Information on a new NZ document about indigenous IPR aimed specifically at Maori communities (with thanks to Deidre Brown in Auckland). 8 August 2007.
Exploding prices for indigenous art raise the question of resale rights for artists. ABC News, Australia, 27 July 2007.
"High tech, biotech clashing on patent bill," by Stephen Heuser, Boston Globe, 19 July 2007 (with thanks to John Daly).
An exchange about IP, pharmaceuticals, and bioprospecting between Michael Brown and John Daly in Daly's blog Thoughts about K4D, 24 July 2007.
"A patent is worth having, right? Well, maybe not."  Article by Michael Fitzgerald in the New York Times, 15 July 2007.
"WIPO committee extends, adjusts mandate on traditional knowledge, folklore," by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen, IPWatch, 13 July 2007.
"Protect cultural heritage, women told." Story in The Gazette (Montreal) about indigenous IP and its protection.  12 July 2007.
"Ethiopia: Brilliant strategy against Starbucks means more for farmers," by Jonathan Edelstein., 3 July 2007.
"The Possessed," by Arthur Lubow, deals with controversy over disposition of Inca artifacts collected by Yale's Hiram Bingham at Machu Picchu in the early 20th century.  New York Times Magazine, 24 June 2007.
"June 21 set for 2007 National Prayer Day for Native Sacred Places."  Indian Country Today, 19 June 2007.
We live in strange times: Another off-topic story irresistible to anyone with a sense of irony and an interest in globalization: reports on federal contract awarded to Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo firm, which will provide meals to coca-eradication forces in the Colombian jungle .  19 June 2007.
Slightly off-topic but irresistible: Ted Miller and the insanity of increasingly aggressive application of IP law to sports reporting.  From SeattleIP, 15 June 2007.
MFB review of the Handbook of Cultural Property Law 2006, Sherry Hutt and David Tarler, eds., 2007, published in the Museum Anthropology Review, 11 June 2007.
"Health over intellectual property rights, says G5."  From, 8 June 2007.
"Maori words in brand names belong to . . ." Bay of Plenty Times, 4 June 2007.
Descendants of Chief Katonah protest effort by Martha Stewart to trademark Katonah name for furniture line.  New York Times, 3 June 2007.
Aveda discusses business partnerships with indigenous communities that would involve marketing of indigenous knowledge.  EmediaWire, 31 May 2007.
New article by Chris Hann, "A new double movement? Anthropological perspectives on property in the age of neoliberalism," Socio-Economic Review 5, 2007.  Link, I believe, is to pre-publication copy of the essay.
Another trademarking flap, this time in Australia--about the possible trademarking of the word "migaloo."  Gold Coast Bulletin, 2 June 2007.
An Aboriginal painting breaks the A$1 million mark at auction in Australia. Posted here 30 May.
Mira Kamdar reports on new American-backed efforts to expand the power of patents on genetically modified crops grown in India. From Tehelka, 26 May.

Just for fun, check out these patent records in Google's amazing new patent resource:
--A device for inducing altered states of consciousness (1996)
--the much-maligned ayahuasca plant patent (1986)
--my personal favorite, an Indian headdress with whirling feathers (1954)

Reporting for and the Dominion Post, journalist Nick Church considers the growing use of Maori themes and images in New Zealand tourism and its impact on the Maori people. 23 May 2007.
Good writer, terrible idea: Mark Helprin argues that copyrights should last forever.  An op-ed piece in the New York Times, 20 May 2007.  Read James Boyle's reply in the Financial Times, 21 May.
From the Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka: "New bills soon to protect indigenous religious resources." 20 May 2007.
An amazing set of articles on IP, creativity, and social justice has just been published in the UC Davis Law Review (Vol 40, issue 3). The publication, which emerged from a recent symposium, is edited by Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder. All articles are available as full-text PDFs. For a discussion of some of the essays, see Kim Christen's blog. 11 April 2007.
"Libraries and indigenous knowledge."  Discussion from, including link to new Australian open-access book on this issue. 7 April 2007.
Information on a dispute over the construction of a power plant near the Medicine Lake Highlands, Mount Shasta, California, considered a sacred site by American Indians.  5 April 2007.
New book available as open-source PDF: Pacific Genes and Life Patents: Pacific Experiences and Analysis of the Commodification and Ownership of Life.  Published by Call of the Earth/Llamado de la Tierra & the United Nations University, 2007.
"Brazil offers Internet access to Indians."  The Guardian (UK), 30 March 2007.
Peru creates online diversity register to regulate biodiversity research., 22 March 2007.
"Does Joss Stone sound too black?" by David Marchese in A discussion of the perennial question of cultural appropriation, 28 March 2007.
Scottish crofters seek same legal status as indigenous peoples. BBC News, 25 March 2007.
Check out this terrific essay on heritage protection by Dorothy Noyes of Ohio State: "The Judgment of Solomon: Global Protections for Tradition and the Problem of Community Ownership," available full-text in Cultural Analysis 5 (2006).
"Hands off our genes say Pacific Islanders." From The National, Papua New Guinea, 21 March 2007.
Stephen Leahy, "Pacific Islanders preyed upon by Bio-pirates." Inter-Press News, 20 March 2007.
It's not yet April 1, so this seems to be a serious article: "Extraterrestrial contact with Earth's indigenous peoples reveal Western societally repressed knowledge," The Canadian, 16 March 2007.
"World Won't Respect Brazilian Indians Patent Rights Starting with Brazil," Brazzil Magazine, 17 March 2007.
"Now is the time for international action on patents."  SciDev.Net, 12 March 2007.
"Brazil's poisonous tree frog vaccine hasn't made Indians immune to foreign greed," .  Brazzil Magazine, 11 March 2007.
Rolf Potts is doing a series on the Australian outback, with comment on Aboriginal life & art, as well as sacred sites, for 8 March 2007.
"Aboriginal artists become victims of their success," by Alex Malik, Canberra Times, 5 March 2007.  Makes a case for protecting Aboriginal art from infringement and counterfeiting.
The East Africa Standard, Nairobi, carried a story about efforts to trademark some Swahili words in the UK, including kiondo. 1 March 2007, posted here 5 March.  See also a similar article about the kikoi controversy in the Independent, UK, 8 March.
Not exactly hot news, but Duke University Law School publishes eight open-source journals that carry articles on IPR, secrecy, and changing ideas of the public domain. (Regarding the latter, see, e.g., Law and Contemporary Society, Winter/Spring 2003.)  As far as I can tell, virtually everything is available in html or pdf formats.
Interesting SavageMinds discussion on the possible use of branding as a strategy for protecting indigenous IPR, 28 February 2007.
"Llegó la hora de registrar los conocimientos tradicionales de Bolivia para enfrentar a la biopiratería,", 28 February 2007.
New essay available full-text: Jennie D. Woltz, The Economics of Cultural Misrepresentation: How Should the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 Be Marketed? Fordham Intellectual Property, Media, and Entertainment Law Journal, Winter 2007.
Review of Steal This Music: How Intellectual Property Law Affects Musical Creativity," by Joanna Demers., 16 February 2007.
DNA analysis will determine whether Maori sweet potato (kumara) varieties pre-date European contact, which could have IPR implications.  NZ Herald, February 2007.
Madhavi Sunder has published yet another vitally important article on intellectual property, and it is available full-text: "IP3," Stanford Law Review 59, 2006.  See also her recent paper, "The invention of traditional knowledge."
The furor over commercialization of the Peruvian plant maca continues. Is the marketing of maca extracts in a product called MacaPure a legitimate innovation or an instance of biopiracy? Associated Press, 7 January 2007; posted here 5 February.
"Indigenous people, indigenous knowledge." Story about "tribals" of Orissa, India, and the cultural/economic value of their traditional knowledge.  Ok, it says that tribal people are "children of nature." I don't write this stuff, I only share it! From the Kalinga Times. 16 February 2007.
Sabrina Safrin of Rutgers Law-Newark has published an interesting paper," Chain Reaction: How Property Begets Property." You can access the abstract here; the abstract page links to options for full-text download.  2 February 2007.
Fascinating (and laudatory) article in about Glenn Stone's recent work on the social and economic impact of genetically-modified cotton in Warangal, India.  1 February 2007.
Latest developments in Waitangi Tribunal deliberations about Maori ownership of NZ's indigenous flora and fauna--in this case with particular reference to herbal remedies. From, 30 January.  Posted here 1 February 2007.
"Someone (other than you) may own your genes," by Denise Caruso, New York Times, 28 January 2007.  Discusses interesting paper by Stephen Hilgartner, which is available full-text.  29 January 2007.
The future of information: "Could this be the final chapter in the life of the book?" Brian Appleyard, The Times (London), 21 January, posted here 22 January 2007
"Updating Chinese traditional medicine policy proves problematic,", dated 19 January, posted here 22 January 2007.
"Protecting traditional knowledge," by Jacob Simet, in The National (Papua New Guinea), 10 January 2007, posted here 11 January 2007.
"Nigeria boosts research into traditional medicine." From SciDev.Net, 15 December 2006, posted here 4 January 2007.
This is off-topic a bit, but the anthropologist Adam Kuper has published an essay in The Lancet expressing great skepticism about a recent report on the health status of the world's indigenous peoples.  Part of Kuper's critique turns on the question of who qualifies as "indigenous." Link posted here 4 January 2007.