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Book Chapter

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Copyright, Cultural Diversity, Preservation, Dissemination, Public Policy, Traditional Cultural Expressions


This paper takes a critical look at the interaction between intellectual property law and culture using three examples, namely: 1) the need to preserve and disseminate culture, through the recognition of cultural heritage institutions' vital role in society; 2) the need to maintain culture from depreciation, through the safeguard of a strong public domain; and 3) the need to let culture evolve, through the protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCE's). This brief study shows that, although IP rights can be said to afford useful protection to objects of culture – taken in the narrow sense of ‘culture’, they can also prove to be inappropriate for preserving and promoting culture or cultural diversity – taken the broader sense of the word, either because they are too rigid, last too long, or are ill-suited for the intended object of protection. As a result, a serious mismatch occurs between the private appropriation of objects of culture through IP rights and the full implementation of public policy objectives towards the protection and promotion of culture and cultural diversity.


This is an author's manuscript of a chapter published in A. Kamperman-Sanders, A. Ramalho, C. Mulder, & Anke Moerland-Dahrendorf, eds, Introduction to Intellectual Property and Knowledge Management (Maastricht, Netherlands: University Maastricht, 2018).