James d’Apice: An honest lawyer’s assessment

Wanjina-artCopyright law: a brief sketch

Copyright law stands firm even as the world around it changes. The New Media, and the Oldest Media, are at the forefront of the copyright challenge intellectual property lawyers face today. We discussed defamation in March, and we considered how the New Media is creating new venues for our (and our clients’) rights to be put at risk. Today we will consider similar issues in the context of the Federal Court’s decision in iiNet. We will also discuss the tension developing between white law and Indigenous law. There is no copyright protection available for a style, an idea, or a spirituality; and even if there was, that protection would manifest personally (whether to a natural person or otherwise) and be finite. Later we will look at what this means for traditional Indigenous culture. Note that we will be leaving Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd v EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited [2010] FCA 29 (4 February 2010) aside. That case concerns the definition of “substantial part”, and is of no particular use in today’s brief sketch…

Continue reading: An honest lawyer’s assessment: The issue is clear. At the moment, white law does not recognise the rights claimed by Indigenous people and Ms Tenodi’s legal argument holds. No one person owns the wandjina idea. No one person can own an idea. Nor is there an appropriate corporate body in whom the ownership right could or should reside.

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