Alternative Intellectual Property?

Division of Law, Macquarie University
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Macquarie Law Journal, 2006, 6 (1), pp. 65 - 93
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This article takes up the workshop theme of `Customs in Common in an attempt to locate, or create, a space for an Aboriginal dialogue about legal rights in the context of indigenous culture and intellectual property law. Can Australian law create a space for a dialogue with indigenous people that allows for a form of indigenous autonomy or self-determination? How can Aboriginal law or custom be given contemporary meaning, significance and impact on Australian law? At the outset, (at least) two problems stand out. The first is political in nature. Who is it that can speak `for indigenous people? As Aboriginal writer, Irene Watson, explains, The idea of speaking `for is alien to my knowledge of the possibilities of an Aboriginal political representation. There has never been an Aboriginal dialogue that has given over to this concept that is of giving the Aboriginal voice a political representative quality.[1] This is not a problem of there being a lack of Aboriginal political structures, but a problem with the forms of Aboriginal political representation that the Australian political system can recognise.
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