Papua’s Unregistered Wealth: The Need for Copyright Protection of Papuan Noken

As a province in Indonesia rich in culture and natural resources, Papua has invaluable assets. One of Papua’s distinctive treasures is the Noken, a traditional pouch produced through the skilful weaving of keni bark fibres, thatch mats, or other natural fibres.

Over the years, noken has also become an important symbol of Papuan identity and cultural heritage and has also become a source of income for local communities.

In Papua, noken is not only used as a tool to carry goods, but also has great cultural and social value. Noken is frequently used in traditional events, such as weddings, welcoming important guests, or in religious activities. Many people have a fondness for noken as bags or accessories because of its beauty and cultural values.

Noken is also categorised as a Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME). Noken often begins as an individual or local community initiative to maintain cultural heritage and as a source of income for Indigenous Papuans.

As an MSME, noken manufacturing has several advantages. First, these businesses usually employ local labour, providing economic opportunities to local communities. Second, noken production often involves traditional skills and weaving techniques that are passed down through generations, helping to preserve the culture and traditional craftsmanship of Papuans.

Along with the increasing interest and appreciation of the art of noken at the national and international levels, noken has become one of the most sought-after craft products for tourists and collectors. Various promotional and marketing efforts can help increase the visibility and sales of noken products, including art exhibitions, online platforms, and partnerships with organisations or companies interested in cultural and sustainable products.

However, although Noken has been an important part of Papuan life and culture for centuries, the copyright to this work has not been officially registered. This is a serious concern as it potentially threatens the existence and sustainability of Papuan culture.

Copyright protection of Papuan Noken has several significant benefits. Firstly, by registering the copyright of the Noken, indigenous Papuan tribes will get proper recognition for their works. This will ensure that their cultural property is valued and officially recognised, as well as protect them from misuse and unauthorised appropriation.

In addition, copyright protection of Papuan Noken will help promote the sustainability of Papuan culture. By receiving official recognition and support for their works, indigenous Papuan tribes will be encouraged to preserve the tradition of Noken weaving and pass it on to future generations. This will also provide economic incentives for Papuan communities, who can derive economic benefits from the production and sale of Noken.

Copyright registration can also protect Papuan Noken from cultural theft and counterfeiting. As demand for indigenous cultural products increases, there is a risk of Papuan works being mass-produced and distributed without the consent or fair remuneration of indigenous tribes. Copyright protection would provide a strong legal basis to address such practices and ensure that indigenous Papuan tribes derive proper economic benefits from their works.

To protect the copyright of Papuan Noken, certain steps need to be taken. First, efforts are needed from the Indonesian government to recognise Noken as an important cultural heritage and support copyright registration. The government can also introduce clear regulations to protect Noken and prevent misuse or counterfeiting.

In addition, it is necessary to conduct awareness and education campaigns for the Papuan community on the importance of copyright protection. This will help raise awareness of their rights and provide the necessary knowledge to protect and benefit from their cultural works.

Collaboration between the government, local communities, and international institutions is also needed to support the copyright protection of Papuan Noken. This co-operation could include policy development, abuse monitoring, and promotion of fair trade for Papuan cultural works.

In the face of future challenges, it is important for Papua and Indonesia as a whole to protect and promote this valuable cultural heritage. Copyright protection of the Papuan Noken is an important step in ensuring the sustainability of Papuan culture, valuing the outstanding works of indigenous tribes, and ensuring fair economic benefits for them. With good cooperation between the government, communities, and relevant institutions, we can protect and promote these unregistered Papuan treasures for future generations.


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