Intellectual Property and Access to Im/material Goods
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Intellectual Property and Access to Im/material Goods

Edited by Jessica C. Lai and Antoinette Maget Dominicé

Traditionally, in order to be protected intellectual property goods have almost always needed to be embodied or materialised (and – to a certain extent – to be used and enjoyed), regardless of whether they were copyrighted works, patented inventions or trademarks. This book examines the relationship between intellectual property and its physical embodiments and materialisations, with a focus on the issue of access and the challenges of new technologies. Expert contributors explore how these problems can re-shape our theoretical notion of the intangible and the tangible and how this can have serious consequences for access to intellectual property goods.
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Chapter 10: In/tangible heritage, intellectual property and museum policy: exploring methods for respecting indigenous legal traditions

Catherine E. Bell, Jessica C. Lai and Laura K. Skorodenski


Issues around defining respectful relationships, and within those relationships, reconciling laws and values concerning use and control of intangible indigenous heritage, arise in numerous museum contexts including: repatriation of material culture and associated information; co-management of information or cultural expressions that were (and often still are) considered sensitive or sacred by an Aboriginal community; data and products of research derived from Aboriginal peoples or conducted within their territories; and digital images and multimedia processes designed to enhance exhibits or access to information and participation of Aboriginal peoples in interpretation and control of collections and/or a broader public through use of contemporary technologies (for example, “virtual museums”). However, the particular nature of western intellectual property norms (largely dictated by international obligations) and the intangible/tangible divide in western property complicate the matter. This chapter will introduce the current legal and policy environment for addressing intangible heritage in museum contexts and how intellectual property law, in particular trade mark and copyright law, and its relationship with chattel property and contract law, offer opportunities and challenges for policy implementation respectful of indigenous laws and relationships.

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