Codeswitchers :: Business | Social Change | Leadership Pathfinders Apr 2016 | Page 24

Respecting Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights

By Terri Janke and Tamina Pitt

The songs, stories, dances and traditional knowledge of Indigenous people is our Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property. Recognising and respecting Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights (ICIP) is a fundamental step in the process of reconciliation. For generations, cultural information has been passed down in many paintings, songs, dances and stories. Indigenous cultural knowledge is a result of thousands of years of survival in Australia. Arts and cultural knowledge has a huge role in forming the unique cultural identities of Indigenous Australia.

In recent years, the demand for Indigenous cultural products has grown rapidly. Indigenous words, images and plant knowledge are used commercially by Australian companies. Indigenous people seek protection of their ICIP so they can protect it against exploitation, for keeping cultural strong but to also use for their own economic development. It’s important to not give away important cultural assets, know the value of ICIP, and where you can use intellectual property laws, contracts and protocols to protect ICIP rights.

Ways to protect Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property

1. Copyright - The creators and owners of works are automatically granted rights to their own material. Copyright owners have exclusive rights to use and reproduce their work. Copyright only exists or a certain period of time.

2.Trade marks - A Trade Mark is a mark used to distinguish your good or service from others. Owners of registered trademarks can take action against any rival trader who attempts to use the same or similar marks. Indigenous Australians can use a trademark to use Indigenous words and symbols. Trade marks provide a means for Indigenous businesses to promote their products and services as authentic.

3. Contracts - A contract is a legally binding promise. Indigenous Australians can protect their cultural rights through a contract by requiring users to follow cultural protocols.

4. Protocols - Protocols are appropriate ways of communicating and working with others. Observing cultural protocols is important in Indigenous culture. Protocols offer a framework to assist people dealing with Indigenous cultural information.

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