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IP and Development

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12 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    Fascinating, and very important work. Yes, there should definitely be more information out there on the provenance of works of art, and how buying decisions either advance or retard the conservation of existing artistic traditions.

    I don’t know if I’d be in favor of, say, letting different cultural groups copyright their designs. But I definitely value a system that makes more transparent these goods’ origins.

  2. Gerrie says:

    Although I am not quite sure how one would enforce the concept of Ip on these types of craft, I think it a good idea, if it can work. Many of these Africans create these works because of their artistic ability. Unfortunately, not many can make a sustainable income from this, and tend to stop creating these works. Very few of these people have an outlet where they can actually display and sell their work. Any means to enable them would be welcome.

  3. Kate Litvak says:

    I didn’t understand anything. Are the Chinese now making African-looking crafts and selling them to Americans falsely claiming that those crafts were made in Africa? Or are the Chinese simply selling African-looking crafts for less than Africans do? Is the “problem” that Africans don’t like to compete with the Chinese, who can make things cheaper and better? So, we now need to convince Americans to buy a more expensive product, which Americans don’t perceive to be of a superior quality, because – ummm, why? Because Africans are more deserving trade partners than the Chinese? Why should we support African craftsmen at the expense of Chinese craftsmen?

    Humans are astoundingly creative when they want to come up with an excuse for protectionism. But a whole conference on Clever Excuses for Protectionism? Wow. I wish I was there.

  4. Christine Farley says:

    Kate, I think you understand everything up to a point. One clarification: The Chinese are copying the African sculptures, but in resin, not wood, and they are mass producing them. What’s lost? Well, that’s the point. If we want more cheap, cool-looking things than all’s well. But if we want to sustain ancient artististic traditions and communities, than we need put a dollar on that somehow.

  5. Kate Litvak says:

    Christine: How clever of you to compare “cheap-looking things” with “ancient traditions”. Why not compare apples with apples instead? Like, “if we want cheap, cool-looking things, let’s do X. If we want expensive, but (in the eyes of consumers) equally cool-looking things, let’s do Y”. Better yet, “if we want to lift people from dire poverty by reducing the costs of production, widening markets for their goods, and increasing trade, let’s do X. If we want to sustain artistic traditions by keeping the costs of production artificially high, dampening the demand, and restricting trade, let’s to Y”.

    Recall that nobody is stopping Africans from making cheap, cool-looking things too. If they want to sacrifice prosperity in the name of artistic traditions, it’s all fine. What’s not fine is for them to demand that the Chinese do the same thing.

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    Hi Christine,

    I think your post is very interesting. The issues you describe push on definitions of “art” and “aunthenticity” and “counterfeit” in ways that are meaningful to IP law and policy. Hope to catch up with you soon and hear more about the conference.

  7. Kate Litvak says:

    I sense that Ann disagrees with me on the subject of protectionism, but she isn’t quite sure how to express her feelings. Maybe through dance?

  8. sls says:

    I think the idea is that there are a significant number of consumers who would be willing to pay more for an object that was made in the locality whose style it represents. Whether that’s a rational choice or not is not really for me to decide, but if some form of IP-like right could be used and enforced to guarantee that consumers get that information, then the marketplace can decide whether the premium on the place of origin is worth it.

    I’d have thought that, for crafts that are produced on a larger scale than individual artworks, something like a geographical indication might be worth looking into.

  9. Brett Sergay says:

    So us I understand it Kate, you advocate a free for all, let everybody copy each others work? And look what that has done for the American manufacturing base for example?

    Arguing that “Recall that nobody is stopping Africans from making cheap, cool-looking things too. If they want to sacrifice prosperity in the name of artistic traditions…” totally misses the point here. The informal African sector, which essentially encompasses craftsmen and artisans in Africa, is entirely different in structure to mass produced Chinese sweatshops that knock-off their work and cultural expression.

  10. Matt says:

    This is of particular interest to us as we receive a barrage of email at the ArtnetAfrica online gallery notifying us that a certain Chinese company can replicate any of the art that we offer for a fraction of the price.

    Should we be reporting these companies, is there anything we can do about it?

  11. Matt Owen says:

    This is of particular interest to us as we receive a barrage of email at the ArtnetAfrica online gallery notifying us that a certain Chinese company can replicate any of the art that we offer for a fraction of the price.

    Should we be reporting these companies, is there anything we can do about it?

  12. Matt Owen says:

    This is of particular interest to us as we receive a barrage of email at the ArtnetAfrica online gallery notifying us that a certain Chinese company can replicate any of the art that we offer for a fraction of the price.

    Should we be reporting these companies, is there anything we can do about it?

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