Public Ethics Radio – Episode 13: Sarah Holcombe on Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights

This Public Ethics Radio clip examines questions around Australian Indigenous knowledge management, intellectual property rights, and research ethics. The guest speaker is social anthropologist Sarah Holcombe who is a research fellow at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University. The audio clip is 32 minutes long.

Visit Dr. Holcombe’s website:

November 28, 2010   No Comments

Protocols for Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Iwi

This web site lists several Protocols for Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of the Maori Iwi (traditional tribes), based on the Mataatua Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Included are eight recommendations to Iwi, 5 recommendations to states, national and international agencies, and 9 points describing biodiversity and customary environment management property rights.

Note: I was curious about the term Mataatua. Here’s what Wikipedia had listed for it:

Mataatua was one of the great voyaging canoes by which Polynesians migrated to New Zealand. Māori traditions say that the Mataatua was initially sent from Hawaiki to bring supplies of kūmara to Māori settlements in New Zealand. The Mataatua was captained by Toroa, accompanied by his brother, Puhi; his sister, Muriwai; his son, Ruaihona; and daughter, Wairaka.

November 28, 2010   No Comments

Under CAFTA, Indigenous heritage becomes intellectual property for the United States

Throughout this course, I’ve found discussion around the issue of intellectual property particularly interesting. Living in British Columbia, it would be difficult to miss the ongoing debate around the local fisheries with regard to who owns what, and how far Indigenous people’s rights extend when it comes to rules around harvesting marine resources.

For these reasons, I found the Cancer Plants web page describing foreign ownership of the right to exploit a region’s abundant and diverse tropical flora, very provocative. According to this page, under the intellectual-property provisions of CAFTA, the US has forced legislation in member countries that potentially legalizes patenting the biological resources of the region to the benefit of pharmaceutical and agro-industrial companies. Indigenous communities and environmentalists call these practices biopiracy while international pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers call them bioprospecting. Whatever the term used, the ethical, environmental, and commercial implications of this practice could be enormous.

November 28, 2010   No Comments