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Protecting Indigenous Artwork from Exploitation

20th June 2018

A panel of experts joined the Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Program (IPIL) to discuss the impacts of inauthentic Indigenous art.

The IPIL Program hosted a panel of experts for the ‘Protecting Indigenous Artwork from Exploitation’ Symposium to discuss the current Inquiry by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs on the sale of inauthentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and  products in the souvenir market.

Gabrielle Sullivan, CEO of the Indigenous Art Code, Stephanie Parkin, Indigenous lawyer and QUT Masters student, Christopher McKenzie, Director of the Complaint and Program Coordination Unit in the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins, Indigenous artist, and Amanda Hayman, owner of BlakLash Collective, raised awareness of the challenges faced by Indigenous artists and their calls for social and legal change around the sale of fake art.

Indigenous artists and law academics discussed the shortfalls of current copyright and consumer laws and the inability of such laws to protect the rights of Indigenous artists and business owners.

“Our copyright law contains critical limitations that simply do not work for Indigenous artists. These include a focus on individual ownership, rather than collective or communal ownership, and a term limitation that does not extend to the cultural expressions and sacred stories that have been carefully protected by Indigenous communities for generations,” said Dr Kylie Pappalardo, Lecturer and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at IPIL.

The speakers also expressed that any changes in consumer protection arising from the Inquiry is not, by itself, likely to solve the problem, as the issue of fake art is multi-layered and impacted by a lack of understanding and respect of cultural expression.

Stephanie Parkin is currently completing her Master of Philosophy degree on the existence of fake art and the associated Inquiry. For more information on Stephanie’s, and IPIL’s, work in this area follow QUT Law on Facebook and Twitter.


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