July 2004 Volume 6, Issue 4

It is widely recognised that more often than not, our legal systems are unable to comprehend and protect the beliefs, practices and laws of Indigenous people. Indigenous cultural and intellectual property receives insufficient protection from current Australian laws as well as international instruments. While the Designs Act 2003 has recently replaced the 1906 legislation, other legislation remains inadequate to assure the rights of Indigenous people to protect and control their traditional knowledge. Toward the end of last year the Exposure Draft of the Copyright Amendment (Indigenous Communal Moral Rights) Bill 2003 was released to a limited number of organisations and one individual. In our February 2004 edition (Volume 5(30)), Jane Anderson highlighted the failings of this Bill to provide much needed protection of Indigenous cultural heritage. In this edition we take a look at intellectual property and the specific interaction of Indigenous people with current legislation and agreements. Jill Jones examines the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property and the inconsistencies between this and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Traditional knowledges are made more vulnerable by the lack of a clear precedence as to which instrument prevails. Alice Diver writes on the protection of cultural heritage and observes the limitations placed on any legislative amendments by court systems which maintain Western notions of land use and ownership. Evaluating the current state of the Indigenous art market, Ruth Rentschler and Mirko Bagaric propose ways in which the art market may be strengthened so as to give due recognition, support and protection to Indigenous artists. No doubt many of our readers are aware that the State of Victoria has signed a co-management regional agreement with the Yorta Yorta peoples. Peter Seidel discusses the agreement which, among other things, recognises the Yorta Yorta peoples as the traditional owners of their country. It is regretful that the New South Wales Government has chosen not to be involved in developing a similar agreement. We also reproduce a statement made by Sharon H Venne in July this year at the 22nd session of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples’ meeting. In this statement, she strongly criticises member states for their delay in approving the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Special Forum: Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property     

Protecting Indigenous Heritage in the Face of Globalisation
by Jill Jones

A Just War — Protecting Indigenous Cultural Property
by Alice Diver

The Indigenous Art Market: A Roadmap to a More Equitable and Efficient System
by Associate Professor Ruth Rentschler and Professor Mirko Bagaric

Land Management Agreement

Summary of the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation / State of Victoria Co-operative Management Agreement
by Peter Seidel and Julian Hetyey

International Update     

Statement to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples
by Sharon H Venne (with introduction by Samantha Newman)

Book Review

This Country: A Reconciled Republic?
review by Matthew Lamb


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