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  3. Protecting Australian Indigenous art
  4. Background information
  5. Mechanisms for protection in Australia
  6. Contracts
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One of the most effective means by which to protect Australian Indigenous art is through contract. There are many international policies and protocols that work to protect the rights of Aboriginal artists where other legal protections such as copyright law, design law, trade practices law or moral rights law are not sufficient. Including these protocols or guidelines in a contract will protect an artist’s or community’s rights as it will ensure that these policies and protocols are legally binding.

A contract is an exchange of promises that is legally enforceable. A contract can be made verbally, in writing, partly verbally and partly in writing, or by people’s actions. For a contract to be enforceable there must be:

  • an offer by one party to another;
  • the other party must accept the offer without conditions (if the offer is accepted subject to certain conditions this is considered to be a counter-offer rather than an acceptance);
  • something of value which the party making the offer gives to the other party as the agreed price for the other’s promises; and
  • both parties must intend to create legal relations with the other.

It is usually a good idea to have a contract written down so that there is a clear record of what each party has agreed in order to prevent any future disputes about the agreement. You can include a wide range of terms and conditions in a contract. Many organisations provide sample contracts, which can be modified and used.

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