Monday, November 20, 2006

IP and the Market for African Art

American U. law professor Christine Farley posts from a conference in Namibia on "IP Used in Support of Culture Based Industries":

"The main question being addressed is whether IP (especially copyright & trademark) can help improve the markets for African art. The problem is that although the US is the major market for African art, US consumers are not willing to pay enough for the art in order to support the communities that create it. Beautiful, hand-crafted pieces made of indigenous materials using ancient techniques are sold at bargain prices that reflect tiny sums paid to the artisans that created them. We buy these pieces at places like World Market because they look nice, but we learn nothing about their origin and significance. If that's all we value why not buy even cheaper versions made in China? These artisans are hopeful that they can stop that type of competition by asserting IP rights in the art."

See also the spirited discussion with UT-Austin law professor Kate Litvak in the comments.