Saturday, July 18, 2009

Religion Gets in the Way of Batik Copyrighting

Solo. Religion was singled out here on Sunday as the major reason why city officials were having trouble persuading skilled batik designers to put their names to their creations so they could be registered for copyright.

Solo Mayor Joko Widodo warned that if registration with the directorate general of intellectual property at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights did not occur soon, unique Solo batik motifs could be registered by another party and the actual creators would lose their claim to them.

“That will cost us in the end,” Joko said.

The head of the local Kauman Batik Tourism Group, Gunawan Setiawan, said on Sunday that religion played a significant part in the reluctance of the craftsmen and women to attach their names to their works.

“They believe that each time they create something, it is not they who worked, but it is God who worked through their human body and soul,” Gunawan said. “Being grateful [to God] is sufficient for them.”

The head of the Solo trade and industry office, Joko Pangarso, said copyright registration work had begun last year, but was constantly held up when it was found a particular batik only had a motif name because the creator declined to attach their own.

“So far only 10 motifs have been successfully included in the list,” he said. “The creators acknowledged their creations but asked for minimal exposure.

“I am afraid that other parties might register [the Solo batik motifs] because there are many batik cities in Indonesia. There are Yogyakarta, Pekalongan, Brebes, Madura and other places. Some of Yogya’s motifs are almost identical to Solo’s.”

Gunawan, from the tourism group, said that in the present era of global competition, the traditional way of thinking could be exploited by others for profit.

Other countries, he said, have known about this and have already wrongly tried to claim copyright over Indonesian-designed batiks.

“If Malaysia is speedier than us in patenting copyright for some Solo batik motifs, there is little that we can do,” Gunawan said. “We just need [their creators’] names, but it is very difficult.”

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