First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts

Protocols for using First Nations Cultural and Intellectual Property in the Arts

“While works by individual artists are protected by copyright, Australia does not yet have a law that prevents alteration, distortion or misuse of traditional symbols, songs, dances, performances and story that may be part of the heritage of particular Indigenous language groups.

This is where the Australia Council for the Arts’ Protocols for using First Nations Intellectual and Cultural Property in the Arts comes in.

The protocols provide a pathway for collaborations and creation of new Indigenous work.”
Dr Terri Janke



First published in 2002 and revised in 2007, this protocol guide endorses the rights of First Nations people to their cultural heritage and supports First Nations creative practice.

This protocol guide encourages self-determination and helps build a strong and diverse Indigenous arts sector. These are key goals and priority areas of the Australia Council for the Arts.

Creative practitioners who work with First Nations artists or engage with Indigenous cultural heritage in projects, and are funded by Australia Council grant assessment panels are required to comply with this protocol guide as a condition of funding.

Over the years, the principles and protocols contained in this protocol guide have also been applied nationally and internationally – educating readers and users on Indigenous Australian cultural heritage, and encouraging meaningful collaborations with First Nations artists and creators.