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Refers to the Indigenous people of Australia except those of the Torres Strait region.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, a statutory body whose mission is to promote knowledge and understanding of Australian Indigenous cultures, past and present.
Use of another’s knowledge, ideas, property and material. Artistic appropriation draws on existing styles or elements and incorporates these into new contexts. While not necessarily unlawful, the appropriation of Indigenous images, styles and themes is a concern for many Indigenous Australian artists since Dreaming figures, totems, symbols (eg waterholes, tracks) or styles (eg cross-hatching, x-ray, dotting) that are embedded with particular and sensitive cultural meaning have been taken and re-used without permission, fair payment or acknowledgement. In these circumstances, the Indigenous artists (and their communities) view appropriation as property theft. It is therefore potentially offensive; at its worst, it is a practice that undermines Indigenous cultures and trades on the cultural capital built up by others.[22]
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. ATSIC was an independent statutory authority established by the Commonwealth Government. It was responsible for Australia’s national policy making and service delivery for Indigenous people. ATSIC was abolished by the Federal Government in July 2005.
The right of an artist to be associated and identified with his or her own works.
breach of confidence
Legal action giving rise to equitable remedies where applicant can show that the information has the necessary quality of confidence about it, the information was imparted in circumstances where there was an obligation of confidence, and there was an unauthorised use of that information to the detriment of the party communicating it.[23]
The legal protection provided to the creators of original works and makers of sound recordings and films, preventing unauthorised copying or exploitation by others.
cultural heritage
See ‘Indigenous cultural and intellectual property’ below.
In Indigenous communities, an individual charged with maintaining and passing on particular elements of cultural significance (eg stories, songs, language, ritual and imagery).
The act of damaging the reputation of a person or entity (such as a corporation) by the publication of false statements either by word of mouth (slander) or in a more permanent form (libel).
The English expression that attempts to capture the nature of traditional Aboriginal religious belief. It brings together physical sites, plants and animals and metaphysical concepts that are recognised as having life-sustaining power. Many ‘Dreaming tracks’ may crisscross landscapes, each indicating the journey of an ancestral spirit. A people’s Dreaming is celebrated and maintained through many expressions of movement, story and song.
equitable relief
A remedy granted by a court of equity, based on ethical concepts; for example, an injunction restraining a person from doing a particular action.
Indigenous cultural and intellectual property
Includes objects, sites, cultural knowledge, arts and cultural expression that have been transmitted or continue to be transmitted through generations as belonging to a particular Indigenous group or Indigenous people as a whole or their territory.[24] Commonly referred to as ICIP and sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘cultural heritage’.
Wholeness; uprightness; honesty or soundness of moral principle and character.
intellectual property
Non-material assets such as forms of cultural expression that belong to a particular individual or community. ‘Intellectual property rights’ refers to the bundle of rights that the law grants to individuals for the protection of creative, intellectual, scientific and industrial activity, such as inventions. Such rights are for the protection of economic investment in novel, inventive and/or creative effort.[25]
Eddie Koiki Mabo, whose Murray Island land claim led the High Court to recognise, for the first time, that a form of land title existed prior to Australia’s occupation by Great Britain in 1788. The judgement, made in 1993, is usually referred to as Mabo.
Spirit figures portrayed on rock walls in western Arnhem Land. Their actions may be either malevolent or benevolent. By tradition, Mimi taught the Kunwinjku people the art of painting.
moral rights
Certain non-economic personal rights of authors and creators in relation to their works, including the right of attribution, the right of integrity and the right against false attribution. The right of attribution means that any reproduction of your work should carry your name as the author of the work. The right of integrity means the right to not have your work subjected to derogatory treatment. The right against false attribution means the right to not have another person named as the creator of your work.
The National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA) was a national organisation that advocated for greater recognition for Indigenous artists, and for the protection of their rights. It was disbanded in 2002.
Papunya Tula
An Aboriginal artists’ cooperative established in 1972 at Papunya, Northern Territory, and bringing together diverse groups of Western Desert people. Often recognised by their dotting techniques, iconography, visual language, u-shapes, tracks, concentric circles etc. These artists have developed some of the most famous and distinctive works of modern Australian art.
public domain
An artwork that is ‘in the public domain’ is not protected by copyright. Such works are considered free for all to use without the legal requirement to seek the permission of the artist or to negotiate terms and pay royalties for use.
The ongoing cultural movement that followed the more optimistic and forward-looking period of modernism. The term came into popular currency in the 1970s. Post­modernism is characterised by irony, appropriation and self-reference. In particular, the movement has uncovered the presence of source ideas, information and influences. It has therefore challenged the idea of ‘originality’. It has also made artworks resistant to straightforward assumptions about the place of the author and the interpreter.
Rainbow Serpent
A name that occurs through much of Aboriginal Australia for a variety of beings that take the form of a snake or a sea serpent, eg Yingarna, Ngalyod, Wititj, Pulanj and Warnayarra.
The fine cross-hatching used by artists of western and central Arnhem Land. Similar patterns are known as miny’tji and dhulang in the region’s east. The patterns are used to identify clans in the region. They are understood to inscribe supernatural power in the objects on which they are painted.
Torres Strait Islanders
Refers to the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait region.
Striking figure represented by people in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, featuring a halo effect around the face. Wandjinas are recognised as having a significant role in natural and spiritual events.
World Intellectual Property Organisation. The WIPO administers the major intellectual property conventions such as the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

[22] This definition reflects the debate as observed by the Indigenous persons consulted. For further information on appropriation see Terri Janke, Our Culture: Our Future. A Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights (see References); Australian Copyright Council, Protecting Indigenous Intellectual Property: A Copyright Perspective, Sydney, 1997 and Bruce Ziffe and Pratima V Rao, Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 1997.

[23] Coco v A N Clark (Engineers) Ltd (1969) RPC-41 (Ch)

[24] See Madam Erica Irene-Daes, Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, and Chairperson of the Working Group of Indigenous Populations, Study on the Protection of the Cultural and intellectual Property of Indigenous Peoples, E/CN.4/Sub.2/28, 28 July 1993.

[25] For more information see IP Australia website: www.ipaustralia.gov.au

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