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P.O. Box 57
Byford, WA 6122


Copyright Policy

copyright policy

Respect and integrity - understanding that Indigenous cultural
information is carried in art


Reproducing Indigenous Images and Designs


Changes in technology have made it easier to reproduce images, designs and visual symbols; however there are both ethical and legal issues to be taken into account before such reproduction can occur.


Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights


Indigenous Peoples seek certain rights to their cultural heritage material in order for them to continue their cultural practices. 

Visual arts, like other aspects of heritage, are inter-related to all aspects of Indigenous life. 

Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights are important rights for cultural maintenance


Why protect Indigenous cultural and intellectual property?


There is a need to preserve and maintain Indigenous cultures so there is something to pass on to the future generations. There is also the economic rationale.  If Indigenous cultural material is being exploited for commercial gain, Indigenous peoples should be in control of the consent process and share in the benefits from any authorised commercialisation


What rights do Indigenous peoples want recognised?


The report Our Culture: Our Future sets out a list of rights that Indigenous peoples seek to their Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property. These include: 

  • The rights to own and control Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property; 
  • The rights to prevent the derogatory, offensive and fallacious use of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property; 
  • The right to benefit commercially from the authorised use of Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property including the right to negotiate terms of such usage; and
  • The right to maintain secrecy of Indigenous knowledge and other cultural practices


Selling copyright


When a painting is sold, the copyright remains with the artist. For copyright to be assigned, there must be some form of writing. Once assigned, the purchaser is the copyright owner and can exercise all rights under copyright, with the exception of the moral rights which remain with the artist. 


Licensing copyright


A copyright licence is a grant of rights to deal with the copyright of a work. Artists can seek to negotiate rights for use of their artistic works under terms and conditions including:

  • purpose
  • exclusive or non-exclusive rights
  • territory
  • time


Land and spirit: Indigenous connection to land and sea territories


Whereas settlers see an empty wilderness, Aboriginal people

see a busy spiritual landscape, peopled by ancestors and the

evidence of their creative feats. These divergent visions

produce a tension, one that spills over into Aboriginal art.
— Marcia Langton, 2000

Copyright Owner’s Exclusive Rights


The copyright owner of an artistic work has the exclusive right to do all or any of the following: 

  • to reproduce the work in a material form
  • to publish the work
  • to include the work in a television broadcast
  • to communicate the work to the public


Licence agreements


A written licence agreement sets out the terms and conditions of a licensing arrangement. These can include:

  • payment 
  • grant of rights
  • nature of licence
  • purpose
  • time 
  • no alteration 
  • attribution