'Can Surfers Have Traditional Knowledge Intellectual Property?' by Todd Berry and Charles Lawson in (2021) 8(2) Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity comments
Various international agreements address traditional knowledge (TK), Indigenous Peoples and local communities. A distinction exists between the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and the traditional knowledge of local communities. The World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) is negotiating a text in anticipation of a Diplomatic Conference to agree on binding obligations about TK distinguishing between the TK of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. This article reports on a pilot study assessing the TK of the surfing community of the Gold Coast, Australia in the context of a local community’s TK. Through semi-structured interviews of surfers and non-surfers the following hypotheses were tested: (1) that surfers exist as a local community; and (2) as a local community, surfers have special forms of knowledge and practices particular to their local community that might be characterised as TK. The results of this pilot study show that surfers are a local community and that they do have special forms of knowledge and practices that might be characterised as TK. If this is the intended reach of WIPO’s new form of intellectual property, then this will extend well into the economies of developed countries.