ATSILIRN Protocol 3: Intellectual property

Protocol 3 is called ‘intellectual property’ but covers what is known as ICIP: Indigenous cultural and intellectual property. ICIP is an internationally-recognised term for the right of Indigenous peoples to decide how their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions may be depicted, and who has permission to do this. It is based on the principles of self-determination and free, prior and informed consent.

Thinking about this in a library context, ICIP recognises the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to determine the use and access provisions for collection materials that reflect their own history, culture, language and traditions.

It is also about the moral rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be identified as the source and owner of knowledge expressed in these materials; to prevent it being used in insulting, offensive and misleading ways; and, to refuse its publication.

ICIP doesn’t only apply to collection items that were made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or communities, but also to material produced by anyone outside of that community – whether they are Indigenous or not – that depicts or describes forms of traditional cultural expression. These might include photos, artworks or recordings of folklore, music or dances; material that shows characteristic elements of a community’s heritage, such as a distinctive painting style; or items created for spiritual and religious purposes.

Protocol 3 urges us to develop processes for recognising Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights, and to apply those processes in consultation with the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples affected by them. Depending on the material and the community in question, this consultation may be with the creator or person depicted, a descendent or descendent group, or a native title corporation that has government authority to speak for all the clan groups in their area. It is vital that any consultation is respectful, informed and ethical, and that there is adequate time for meaningful dialogue and consideration.

In the video below, Damien Webb talks about the importance of recognising the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to determine the use and access provisions for collection materials that reflect their own history, culture, language and traditions, and the responsibilities that we have as custodians of that knowledge within the library.