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Aboriginal Cultural and Intellectual Property (ACIP) Protocol

Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) rights are the rights that Aboriginal peoples have to their cultural heritage, also known as ICIP.

ICIP includes traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expression, cultural objects, secret and sacred material as well as documentation of Aboriginal peoples’ heritage in all forms of media such as films, photographs, artistic works, books, reports, records taken by others, sound recordings and digital databases.

Cultural heritage includes both the tangible (objects, artwork, physical items), and intangible (knowledge, storytelling and techniques).

Gaps in Australian laws

ICIP rights are not recognised under Australian intellectual property laws and there is no legislation specifically referring to or protecting ICIP. For example, Australian copyright law does not protect storytelling, knowledge, ideas or information.

The lack of protection under Australian laws means that ICIP may be misused or misappropriated. ICIP is often used out of context, without consent or without benefits flowing back to Aboriginal people and communities.

Aboriginal Cultural and Intellectual Property Protocol

In the absence of protection for cultural and intellectual property rights under Australian laws, Aboriginal Affairs NSW (AANSW) has developed an Aboriginal Cultural and Intellectual Property Protocol as part of its commitment to upholding Aboriginal peoples’ rights to their heritage, knowledge and cultural expressions.

This Protocol sets a standard for how AANSW engages with Aboriginal people and communities in regard to their cultural and intellectual property, and what we expect from the organisations we fund and suppliers we engage in this respect.

View the Aboriginal Affairs NSW Aboriginal Cultural and Intellectual Property Protocol here

Further information

Our Culture Our Future, Terri Janke 

Australia Council for the Arts Protocols for Working with Indigenous Artists

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