Cooks PM Has Championed Traditional Knowledge Copyright Rules

Two acts enacted were the first of their kind in the Pacific, protect Cook Islands artists, authors musicians, performers, and producers of creative works

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, January 27, 2017) – The protection incorporated in the Cook Islands Traditional Knowledge Act and the Copyright Act passed in 2013, means the Cook Islands people can rightly claim and protect their traditional works and knowledge, using them as a foundation for being creative either in the social or economic arena, says prime minister Henry Puna.

Puna made the observation at the opening of a sub-regional workshop on copyright at the National Auditorium this week.

Puna said the two Acts, the first of their kind to be enacted in the Pacific region, gave Cook Islands artists, authors musicians, performers, and producers of creative works an avenue for rightful ownership.

“The impact of this legislation is that our people are able to enjoy the benefits of their cultural knowledge and works,” Puna said. Cook Islands became a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) last year and Puna said the fruits of that membership were now being realised through information sharing and technical assistance coming into the country. The main focus of the three-day workshop was to provide for a deeper understanding of how copyright could facilitate and contribute to the economic development of Pacific nations. 

"I am aware that there are more steps to take and I would like to assure you that we will take them after considering the many issues and implications for our small nation.

“We would like to thank in advance the World Intellectual Property Organisation for your commitment to ensuring we have a robust intellectual system in place so our works can be recognised and protected not just within our country, but also outside our shores".

WIPO director Gao Hang, responsible for the Copyright Development Division, Copyright and Creative Industries Sector, commended the Cook Islands for the work it had already undertaken, and the leadership it had shown.  In his reply, Puna said that late last year the government of the Cook Islands had ratified the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention under the auspices of UNESCO and that this convention strengthened the related rights of Cook Islands artists. Speakers at the workshop included Hang, Anthony Healey from the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), New Zealand, Akatsuki Takahashi from UNESCO and

Distaquaine Tuihalamaka from the Intellectual Property Office in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

The workshop was organised by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in cooperation with the Ministry for Cultural Development and the government of the Cook Islands and with the assistance of Australian government.

All costs were met by WIPO and UNESCO.           

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