AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW FOR NATURE
In 2009 I was fortunate enough to win the Earth Vision Nature Writing Contest, and then received the even greater accolade of being asked to judge this competition in 2010 and 2011. For decades I have squirmed in fury at seeing advertisers using animals and birds to promote thier products. Products which may, actually, be harming the ecosystem upon which these animals and birds rely for their life. It seemed to me to be a particularly invidious form of 'passing off' - to connect, particularly in a child's mind, the cute and cuddly 'happy, jolly, jokey' with a product light years away from that animal's welfare or interest.
Now, whether to dub this initiative as 'The Lighter Side of Animals Rights' or 'Intellectual Property Law for Nature' will depend on the audience you are addressing.
I can see clear potential for the proposal. I think today's more eco-conscious children would immediately and intuitively latch onto the ethical - the rightness of this suggestion. Therefore, it would be a possible petition-initiative in schools across the U.K.
Obviously, in the bigger picture, it would be good to have every organisation involved, even peripherally, with nature, to push the Environmental Minister to introduce a Private Members Bill to bring in an 'Intellectual Property Law for Nature'. It closes the gap between the reality of the eco-system and today's commercially driven world.
My Proposal for an Intellectual Property Law for Nature
When a person or organisation wishes to use something belonging to someone else to promote their goods or services, they cannot, by law, just do it. Permissions and fees are involved. People who infringe the law are taken to court, fined, penalised.
There is no such protection afforded to animals, birds, and all aspects of nature in the world of marketing, promotion and advertising generally. This is a gap in the law which, in our more eco-conscious world, needs addressing. But it also needs presenting as an attractive proposition to the commercial world if they are to take it on board, and see its potential to improve their image as eco-friendly. To take them beyond 'greenwashing' as a policy.
A flexibility in choice of ways to 'thank' the birds, animals, aspect of nature they wish to 'borrow' for their own purposes would take this beyond a merely financial payout. The money raised could go into a fund to promote a greater environmental awareness, thereby the money raised works twice, doubling up on the benefits.
Psychologically, the move to genuinely bring the commercial world and natural world into symbiosis is powerful; gap-closing, integrative, more 'real.
Animals, insects, birds and nature cannot stand up for themselves. Only we humans, if we clearly see the imbalance, can fully take on our responsibilities as guardians, not exploiters.
This is not an 'in-your-face' initiative, like marine conservation, or reintroduction of a species. Yet it has the power to change the relationship between commerce and the eco-system at a much deeper level. Where it becomes a change in consciousness, in the way we see the relationship between ourselves and natural world. Biospherea Integra, not Anthopocentrus Rex.
To have to pay for what you take makes you value it - more. To no longer be able 'to take it for granted' is a big wake-up. Presently, using animals promotionally is a freebie that has been exploited so long that paying for it, will, for some, feel like a culture-shock.
The presence of the law will cause people to re-assess and revalue their relationship with the natural world. The tipping point will come when an organisation decides they deliberately want to use as much of nature as they can in their advertising,
to show they really care about ecological matters and want to show the public this high degree of caring. This is a big plus point developmentally, moving towards greater honesty and integrity.
A natural outcome - an annual Award for the most ecologically-minded creative advertising.
A law brings credibility and status to a 'new way of seeing', such as happened with the Race Relations Act. So the outreach, spin-offs from an Intellectual Property Law for Nature is as conscious-changing at the cultural level, in line with ecological reality.
The Intellectual Property Law for Nature needs to incorporate a Gold Standard, Silver and Bronze one, so commercial organisations have some freedom of choice concerning their degree of commitment.
Copyright Gaia Dance 2013 Header Image Copyright NASA