Table of Contents

Indigenous Intellectual Property

Indigenous Intellectual Property

A Handbook of Contemporary Research

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Matthew Rimmer

This Handbook considers the international struggle to provide for proper and just protection of Indigenous intellectual property. Leading scholars consider legal and policy controversies over Indigenous knowledge in the fields of international law, copyright law, trademark law, patent law, trade secrets law, and cultural heritage. This collection examines national developments in Indigenous intellectual property from around the world. As well as examining the historical origins of conflicts over Indigenous knowledge, the volume examines new challenges to Indigenous intellectual property from emerging developments in information technology, biotechnology, and climate change.

Chapter 6: What Wandjuk wanted?

Martin Hardie

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, human rights, intellectual property law


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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