Traditional Knowledge Copyright Rules in Cook Islands

The Cook Island News reported last week that two acts were enacted by the government to protect Cook Islands artists, authors, musicians, performers and producers of creative works. The Prime Minister, Henry Puna, claimed that the protection incorporated in the Cook Islands Traditional Knowledge Act and the Copyright Act passed in 2013, means the Cook Islands people can rightly claim and protect their traditional works and knowledge, using them as a foundation for being creative either in the social or economic arena.

Puna made the observation at the opening of a sub-regional workshop on copyright at the National Auditorium this week. “The impact of this legislation is that our people are able to enjoy the benefits of their cultural knowledge and works,” Puna said. Cook Islands became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) last year and Puna said the fruits of that membership were now being realized through information sharing and technical assistance coming into the country. The main focus of the three-day workshop was to provide for a deeper understanding of how copyright could facilitate and contribute to the economic development of Pacific nations.


Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Puna added, “I am aware that there are more steps to take and I would like to assure you that we will take them after considering the many issues and implications for our small nation. We would like to thank in advance the World Intellectual Property Organisation for your commitment to ensuring we have a robust intellectual system in place so our works can be recognized and protected not just within our country, but also outside our shores.”

WIPO director, Gao Hang, responsible for the Copyright Development Division, Copyright and Creative Industries Sector, commended the Cook Islands for the work it had already undertaken, and the leadership it had shown. In his reply, Puna said that late last year the government of the Cook Islands had ratified the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention under the auspices of UNESCO and that this convention strengthened the related rights of Cook Islands artists.

In other WIPO News…

As part of its outreach and awareness raising work, the WIPO Secretariat has been working on a Practical Guide on Intellectual Property for IPLCs (Practical Guide).  The Practical Guide sets out the basic elements of intellectual property with examples of cases from different regions.

For all your WIPO information needs, please click here to advance to their portal. The Practical Guide could be found here as well.

You can also find presentations highlighting indigenous and local community experiences on the WIPO Website. These presentations are a rich source of information on the experiences, concerns and aspirations of indigenous and local communities concerning the protection, promotion and preservation of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources.

Some of the presentations from the Pacific Islands include:

“A South Pacific Perspective: the Case of Bindeku/Kameneku Tribes of the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea,” by Mr. Alphonse Kambu, Director, Ishikawa International Cooperation Research Centre, 2005.

“The Role of the Public Domain Concept,” by Mr. Francis Waleanisia, Ministry of Culture and Tourism (Solomon Islands), 2010.

“Experiences from Vanuatu,” by Ralph Regenvanu, Director, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, 2006.

About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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