Book Review: “Law, Knowledge, Culture: The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in IP Law”

Jane E. Anderson examines how diverse factors have shaped the negotiation ofIndigenous knowledge (IK), especially in the evolution of Australian copyright. The emergence of claims to protect IK in an intellectual property framework are contextualized in the colonialist experience of exploitation. Part 1 gives a history of IP, showing that it is not a neutral area of law. IP related to IK is marked by the power relationship between Indigenous and settler peoples. The IP framework pigeonholes IK in an effort to maintain a facade of objectivity in a clearly subjective area of law. Part 2 discusses the politics of law, and the role of IP law in the commoditization of Aboriginal art/IK and co-optation of the cultural aspects of that art. Chapter six discusses case law regarding IK in IP, and underscores the judicial conservatism in challenging the rigid categories of IP law. Part three discusses culture as the only factor that differentiates IK within IP law. The author notes that appealing to culture in IP falsely assumes homogeneity of Indigenous peoples and perpetuates colonial bias and hegemony. The author gives a brief exploration of international instruments protecting IK, but fails to discuss the importance of the Convention on Biological Diversity for IK. The author concludes with a critique of the Australian national approach to IK. This is book is an interesting addition to the body of scholarship at the interface of IK and IP law. It is well-researched and well-written and would be resourceful for scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds.

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Oguamanam, Chidi, Book Review: Law, Knowledge, Culture: The Production of Indigenous Knowledge in IP Law (2009). SCRIPT-ed, Vol. 6, No. 3 (2009).

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