[Reader-list] Re: Understanding the Patenting of Traditional Knowledge-In response
jeebesh at sarai.net
Sat Jan 31 05:21:31 IST 2004
Thanks Danny for opening up the question of `freedom` in open source. I would
agree with you that the open source idea of `freedom` would be difficult to
apply in areas of `embodied knowledge practices`. (1)
My response was not so much about how traditional knowledge will be or can be
or is `protected` by it's practitioners but how IP regimes intervenes within
these knowledge practices and the story then on.
After IP intervention, a new `disembodied-mobile` knowledge form would emerge
and would be protected through `no end user rights to reproduce or modify`.
It is within this context that user/producer models can help challenge this
I would never propogate (would shudder) the translation of `open source` ideas
as an intervention into `traditional` forms of knowledge production,
circulation or sustanance. Similarly it is IP regime i refer to when i talk
about end user being an frozen concept within it.
On the other hand I am not so sure whether we can extrapolate the conceptual
and legal framework of `property` into earlier practices. There is a danger
there. It makes `property` a cultural-legal universal outside the social
arrangement within which it emerged. This is one area i am at present very
cautious and unsure about.
Though i agree that there are various complicated arrangements and protocols
within which knowledge is sustained, practiced and transmitted. And these
protocols are also about `custodianship` and `withholding`. And these can be
harsh in its `exclusionary` frameworks. But to call these arrangements
property would be difficult. If we take the example of `classical music` in
South Asia, we do see complex social arrangements, codes and protocols that
helped it survive, elaborate and grow. You have to learn through practice
under guidance and then only you will be able to belong to it. But i would
not think it ever articulated a conceptual framework called `property`.
But, Danny let me add a caveat to your arguments. I think that the problem
with IP regimes along with one of artificial construction of scarcity is one
of what Shuddha calls the `unauthorised interlocutors`. This `unauthorised
interlocutors` could be a problem in other forms of knowledge practices. In
Mahabharata a brilliant archer called Ekalavya had to give us his thumb for
the story to continue. He could not prove his authentication in front of the
`authenticators`. (more of that Sarai reader 04 ....to be out next
best and thanks for your lovely response...looking forward to carrying forward
our collective thinking...
1) We would also have to think harder on the american constitutionalism basis
of lot of the arguments to ground open source ideas of freedom. Martin Hardie
has written about this in the forthcoming Sarai Reader 04. (forthcoming)
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