The possible protection of indigenous cultural expressions has reemerged as a topic in international debates in recent years. This article provides a legal perspective on the topic. Existing copyright and neighboring right laws do not apply to such cultural expressions per se, since they do not fulfill the relevant criteria of protection. However, indirect protection is granted to those who record indigenous expressions onto phonograms, films, and photographs, and for those who collect or perform indigenous cultural expressions. Protection concerning authenticity is possible by way of trademarks (in particular collective marks and certification marks) and geographical indications. Particular rules about unfair competition may protect against the disclosure of confidential information. Works based on traditional cultural expressions are regularly protected by copyright. Following early (unsuccessful) attempts for international protection of traditional cultural expressions per se, new ways are currently being developed including sui generis protection regimes which integrate customary laws and practices. Any successful solution will have to be based on better mutual interest and understanding between indigenous peoples and Western users.
Silke von Lewinski
Catherine Alexander, Veronica E. Aplenc, August Carbonella, Zaindi Choltaev, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Paola Filippucci, Christian Giordano, Caroline Humphrey, Deema Kaneff, Alexander D. King, Silke von Lewinski, Michaela Pohl, Hermann Rebel, and Zala Volčič
Biographical notes on contributors