Copyright and folklore in Ghana: a question of national treatment

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In 2005 Ghana introduced copyright legislation that protects folklore against unregulated use by Ghanaian nationals. In effect, this means that any national wishing to engage with their own cultural heritage in order to develop a new commercial work must register this intent and pay an undetermined fee to the Copyright Office or the National Folklore Board prior to use. This is particularly problematic for Ghana’s cultural industries, which, since independence in 1957, have routinely developed new works from Ghana’s cultural heritage. At the time the law was being developed, this approach was justified as necessary to ensure compliance with the principle of national treatment: if Ghana intended to charge non-nationals for the use of its folkloric property, then it was bound through membership of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) administered Berne Convention and the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs) to do the same to nationals. Through an analysis of the obligations set down in these conventions, this article interrogates this position and its potential impact on Ghana’s cultural industries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-25
Number of pages17
JournalQueen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022


  • copyright
  • Ghana
  • folklore
  • national treatment
  • Berne Convention
  • TRIPs


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