Ghana nationalizes folklore, threatens jail for folk artists

Ghana recently updated its copyright law as part of complying with suggestions from the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which recommended that developing nations "nationalize" folklore and charge foreigners for using folk art elements in commercial works. But the Ghanian bill reportedly gets it totally wrong: it could lead to prison sentences for Ghanians who sell art based on folklore, traditional knowledge, dance or song.

He mentioned specifically the clause that imposed a fine, jail or both on any Ghanaians who commercially use, sell or distribute Ghanaian folklore or translations without Government's permit.

The Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana said the Bill would create a terrible situation for the future well being of the country's culture, which required a constant dynamic recycling to stay alive in the Global Village.


Update: Garth sez, "Here's an interesting PDF of a paper by John Collins, who was actually a member of Ghana's copyright board. Interestingly, the whole copyright ball was kicked off by none other than PAUL SIMON! Being a well-meaning human, he paid $16,000 to the Ghanaian government for a song that he lifted for his album 'The Rhythm of the Saints'. This got the Ghanaian government thinking about all of the revenues that they were losing as THEIR OWN citizens plundered Ghana's cultural heritage."