Traditional knowledge

Lessons from the past, lessons for the future

Authored by: Michael J. Balick

Routledge Handbook of Biodiversity and the Law

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138693302
eBook ISBN: 9781315530857
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315530857-16

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Abstract

Traditional knowledge, here considered as a body of information and set of skills developed by a group of people over time, is in a constant state of change. As each generation matures, skills perceived as immediately useful are maintained, others with a lesser perception of immediate value may be lost, and new information, skills and techniques may be incorporated into the body of traditional knowledge (Vandebroek and Balick, 2012). Thus the body of traditional knowledge is never static but rather dynamic in its shape and substance. It is this aspect of traditional knowledge that renders it susceptible to various kinds of intellectual property protection (McManis, 2004). In order to consider the ‘preservation’ of traditional knowledge, perhaps it would be useful first to explore the nature of this system, how it evolves over time, and identify some of the forces involved in its disintegration. This part of the current volume addresses the question of the composition of traditional knowledge and whether and how it might be protected.

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