Policy development for the protection of indigenous knowledge databases in South Africa
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The Department of Science and Technology (DST), through NIKSO, conducted a national audit of existing databases relevant to indigenous knowledge (IK) in 2008. A major outcome of this process was the recommendation that a national policy for the protection of these databases be developed. In carrying out this mandate, in October 2009 the DST awarded a tender for the development of policies for the protection of IK databases to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). This report presents the initial findings from the review of literature on policies for the protection of indigenous databases around the world. The findings presented here are not exhaustive but provide direction in terms of the type of policy that should be developed for the protection of IK databases in South Africa. The report begins with defining the concept of IK. This is followed by a section dealing with the protection of IK databases, drawing mainly from the international framework of treaties and agreements that relate to IKS. The report goes on to provide examples of how different countries have approached the protection of IK. This is followed by a brief section that examines types of indigenous databases across the world. The final section deals with the relevance to South Africa of the issues raised in the review.
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