Cultural Misappropriation

Copycats Not Welcome in Bali. Bali Provincial Administration Seeks to Register Ownership of the Island's Cultural Heritage

The Jakarta Post reports that the Province of Bali is preparing laws that will identify and protect the Island’s “cultural assets”.

Wayan Koster, the Governor of Bali, outlined the gargantuan task ahead: “Bali is known for our cultural wealth. Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how rich we are, so we need to register our cultural heritage, our assets, and protect them.”

The bill drafted by the Governor’s legislative team has the ambitious self-proclaimed goal of trying “to protect all cultural objects and creative work that belong to Balinese communities and individuals.”

The Governor believes that many cultural heritage objects have a monetary value, wishing them to be registered as belonging to the people of Bali.

In the past, the Balinese administration has taken umbrage when neighboring countries, such as Malaysia, have used Balinese dances in promoting Malaysia as a tourism destination. In another instance of cultural appropriation, jewelry makers complained of traditional jewelry designs being "stolen" by non-Balinese manufacturers, resulting in losses to Balinese craftsmen.

Koster said: “We should manage many [cultural assets], as Bali is known for its culture, including dance, music, paintings, architecture, sports, cuisine and many other things.”

Bali plans to simplify the copyright registration procedures.

The proposed legislation has been sent to the Home Minister for review and approval.