Cultural and intellectual property rights in rock art: a case study of Australian indigenous art

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Questions of legal and cultural rights over rock art are particularly compelling given the very different significance the art holds for Indigenous people compared to that recognized by a more general public. In the past, conflicts have arisen between the interests of the Indigenous people and those of the nation state, or of non-Indigenous mining or tourism ventures. This chapter examines the legal rights that Indigenous people have to rock art sites on their land, as well as legal issues arising over the ownership and reproduction of rock art. It examines intellectual property law, including copyright, trade marks, and breach of confidence laws, as well as cultural heritage protection laws. Finally, it considers some of the broader cultural and ethical issues raised by non-Indigenous use of rock art imagery.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Rock Art
EditorsBruno David, Ian J. McNiven
Place of PublicationOxford UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780190607364
ISBN (Print)9780190607357
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • intellectual property laws
  • Indigenous art
  • cultural heritage laws
  • rock art and copyright
  • cultural protocols
  • traditional cultural expressions
  • originality
  • ownership
  • material form

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