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Washington University Journal of Law and Policy


This paper, following on Michael F. Brown's Who Owns Native Culture?, suggests that intellectual property law, negotiation, and human rights precepts can work together to address indigenous claims to heritage protection. Granting intellectual property rights in such spheres as traditional knowledge and folklore does not threaten the public domain in the same way that expansion of intellectual property rights in more commercial spheres does. It is not so much a question of the public domain versus corporate and indigenous interests, as it is a question of the impact corporate interests have had on the indigenous claims. Indeed indigenous peoples' claims are in many respects more properly aligned with the interests of the public. In addition, there are important questions of discriminatory treatment of indigenous knowledge by the present regime of intellectual property. The scope and source of the rights being advanced by indigenous peoples are integral to indigenous culture, interests properly protected under human rights law.

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