BY ALEX DADAMU
TRADITIONAL artists in the country will soon benefited from a proposed bill called the ‘Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture Bill’ aimed at protecting cultural rights of cultural groups or provinces in the country.
The bill, if passed by parliament, will protect cultural or traditional totems and designs to avoid inappropriate use of those materials by foreigners or anyone for commercial purposes without consent to the owners.
Speaking to Tourism Media Solomon Islands, Director of the Cultural Division within the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Dennis Marita revealed that the bill is an outstanding commitment being drafted since 2017.
According to Marita, the Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Culture Bill’ is quite similar to an intellectual property rights principle however, the difference is based on the rights.
“The bill focuses mainly on communal rights like if an artist does a traditional design or carving – the credit will not go to the artist but to a particular group of people who actually owned the particular design or product, for example, Red Shell Money, Nguzunguzu carving, etc.
“The intellectual property rights focuses particularly on individual rights, for instance, if an artist painted or created an artwork, it is owned by that particular artist, except when it comes to music production which would likely to involve a number of beneficiaries like producers, lyrics producer, music producer, studio recorder or video recorder/ editor,” Mr. Marita explained.
The Ministry Tourism – Director of the Cultural Division in the meantime confirmed that a draft document of the propose bill is currently with the Attorney General office.
From there it will be brought to the parliamentary bills and legislative committee for scrutiny before being debated in parliament.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Renbel Handicraft Association, Barbara Tehoaki when speaking to Tourism Media SI, confirmed that the issue of foreigners or people using traditional designs of cultural and artwork is real and should be addressed as soon as possible.
“We have experienced a case where by some of our traditional designs are being used by people in products like clothes that were sold in shops around the city.
“Another case is that of the popular bag originated from Renbel province, locally known among most customers as ‘Renbel basket’.
“The product was first introduced by wavers from the Renbel province, we are the sole owners of the design however, nowadays, almost all wavers from different provinces makes similar bags for commercial purposes,” Tehoaki said.
She urged authorities to complete and pass the bill, adding it is important that we must protect our traditional designs and other cultural product to avoid inappropriate use of those materials by foreigners or anyone for commercial purposes without consent to the owners.