Protocols for respecting First Nations IP

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At the end of September, the Australia Council for the Arts released the latest edition of its Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts.

The protocols, which address key legal, ethical and moral considerations for the use of Indigenous cultural material in the arts, were last updated in 2007. This iteration, authored by solicitor Dr Terri Janke, consolidates five guides into one with case studies spanning visual arts, music, literature, dance, theatre, multi-art forms, emerging and experimental arts and events-based projects.

Australia Council’s Head of First Nations Arts & Culture Patricia Adjei said: “Australia’s unique First Nations artistic and cultural expression is deeply and firmly connected to over 75,000 thousand years of heritage and continuing practice, and its uniqueness has been recognised both within Australia and internationally.

“The protocols are an essential resource that promote self-determination and provide a guide for best practice for anyone working with First Nations artists or within the First Nations arts and cultural sector.”

The updated document lays out ten principles for respecting Indigenous cultural and intellectual property:

  1. Respect
  2. Self-determination
  3. Communication, consultation and consent
  4. Interpretation
  5. Cultural integrity and authenticity
  6. Secrecy and confidentiality
  7. Attribution
  8. Benefit sharing
  9. Continuing cultures
  10. Recognition and protection

Their implementation is demonstrated across fourteen case studies, including Erub Art’s Caught in the Net exhibition; Tara June Winch’s Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning novel The Yield; and Magabala Books’ Indigenous-led storytelling and writing collaborations.

Being responsible for the best practice licensing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island artists’ works on a daily basis, Copyright Agency uses and recommends the principles that are shared by the Australian Council.

The new protocol guide, which also includes a project checklist and handy templates, is available now from the Australia Council’s website.

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