A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Matthew Rimmer
Chapter 6: What Wandjuk wanted?
In many ways this story is the story of how I became a lawyer. It also most likely explains why I stopped being a lawyer, or more specifically it reveals the basis upon which I commenced my foray into philosophy and theory and thinking about the forms of law that are becoming increasingly prevalent in a global networked world. I do not intend to deal with this latter point here as it requires a detailed consideration and explanation in itself. The immediate purpose here is to outline the series of cases which might be collectively known as the Aboriginal Copyright cases. In doing so what is important is the manner in which the common law and equity were able to act in the face of longstanding and dogmatic legal ‘truths’. Because of the place of these cases in my own legal education, the story set out here is necessarily a personal one. Being a law student not only brought me into direct contact with the Bar but it also saw me, as I was reminded on a number of occasions by my Aboriginal colleagues, attending two law schools, Anglo-Australian and Aboriginal, at once. Looking back on these cases now, obviously I have a feeling of great achievement, but also one that involves great loss and sadness.
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