Controversy in Paradise!

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Funny how I am just finalizing a draft of the thesis chapters looking at Tapa and Tattoo in Samoa and Tonga when an airline advertises in the classifieds its intention to trade mark fifteen traditional Fijian cultural heritage bark cloth designs!! Ironically enough, this just a month after Nina Nawalowalo’s MASI production was staged in Fiji.

A local artist sent an email out on the same day and today Jan 31st – six days later, online discussions are HOT on the issue with emails and facebook discussions taking off! It is so interesting to see the passion of some and the disinterest of others who state their ‘surprise’ or ‘irritation’ at ‘all the fuss’.

While there is debate about the lack of IP laws on the protection of TK in the islands, the legal conversation has been ongoing since the 1990s which itself is appalling. Second, many people think that Copyright laws will protect cultural heritage when in fact they are about accessibility “at a price”. My concern in all of this is that the vast majority of people who will be affected either (a) do not know what is going on; (b) do not realize how this may impact on their cultural expression and practice; or: (c) have no idea about how to go about the legal submission of stating an “objection”.

Another issue of concern is the general idea of copyrighting any form of cultural heritage by an organization is frightening. In the worst case scenario, it would be impossible for cultural producers to continue using these designs as well as contemporary artists. And in the event that they did use them, they could be sued for piracy infringement of the trademark. How ridiculous does that sound?

If you read this blog and have a fb account find and get in on the debate.





Hello Blog!

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It has been months since my last blog for a number of reasons not least of which is my workload and working on the thesis!

Glad to be back in cyberworld.

Happy New Year y’all.