11/07/1977 - 15/07/1977

The question of the protection of folklore at the international level was placed by the Director-General of Unesco on the agenda of the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee established under Article XI of the Universal Copyright Convention, in response to a memorandum he had received in 1973 from the Government of Bolivia requesting that the possibility of preparing an international instrument for the protection of folklore be examined.

At the conclusion of its discussion on this subject, at its session held in December 1973, the Intergovernmental Committee decided to entrust the Unesco Secretariat with the task of studying the problem and reporting thereon to the Intergovernmental Committee and the Executive Committee of the International Union for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works at their next sessions.

Pursuant to this decision, the Unesco Secretariat submitted to the Intergovernmental Copyright Committee and the Executive Committee of the Berne Union at their sessions in December 1975 a study on the desirability of providing protection for folklore at the international level. The attention of the Committees was drawn to the fact that the first stages in devising a system of protection for folklore were, on the one hand, the examination in depth of the actual concept of folklore, in order to work out a definition of this part of the cultural heritage of nations, and, on the other hand the identification of the characteristic elements constituting each of the categories coming under the heading of “folklore”. As for protection itself, which the Committees considered necessary, essential and urgent, it was recognized that a distinction should be drawn between the material protection of this heritage, that is to say its conservation, and the legal protection to be afforded with a view to preserving it and regulating its exploitation.

In the light of their discussions, the Committees expressed the view that this was basically a cultural problem, which went beyond the specific field of copyright, and hence beyond their sphere of competence. They accordingly requested Unesco to carry out an exhaustive study of all the questions inherent in the protection of folklore and decided, in view of the links that such protection could have with copyright, to include this item on the agenda of their next sessions.


  • Study of the various aspects involved in the protection of folklore
    FOLK/I/3; LA.77/CONF.603/COL.3: English