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Strong action needed on Olympic rip-offs.

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Media Release

Strong action needed on Olympic rip-offs - Statement by ATSIC Chairman Geoff Clark


14 September 2000


A strong warning needs to go out to the rip-off merchants and counterfeiters who will try to take advantage of Olympic tourism to sell stolen Indigenous designs and fake Indigenous arts and crafts.

To protect the reputation of the Sydney Olympics, SOCOG should ensure that vendors operating under its auspices deal with Indigenous culture on an ethical basis.

It’s disappointing that the federal government hasn’t taken a strong position on the perennial problem of the theft of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultural expressions.

This has always been an important issue but it is even more critical at this time. As Jackie Kelly, the federal Minister for Sport and Tourism, said earlier this year ‘about 80 per cent of our overseas visitors want authentic Indigenous experiences’.1

Those ‘authentic experiences’ can only occur where Indigenous communities have the means for protecting the integrity of our cultures.

ATSIC calls upon the government to immediately issue a warning to those dealing with Indigenous art and design to recognise the intellectual rights of the Indigenous producers.

ATSIC urges anyone who becomes aware of the illegal use of Indigenous art and design to make a report to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association. NIAAA has introduced a Label of Authenticity to help contain the proliferation of rip-offs.

Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights are our rights to our heritage — a living heritage towards which we hold responsibilities. Those rights include objects, knowledge and literary and artistic works (whether produced in the past or created in the future) based on that heritage.

Our art and cultural expression must be protected from commercialisation, exploitation, misuse and abuse. Our interests must also be protected where we choose to commercialise and share our knowledge.

ATSIC believes Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights require specific (sui

generis) legislation to protect areas of Indigenous arts and cultural expression that are not currently protected under the Copyright Act. These areas include communal ownership, intangible cultural heritage and right to protection in perpetuity.

Geoff Clark ATSIC Chairman

Contacts: ATSIC Paul Molloy, 0419 690 926 NIAAA 02 9331 3777 ACCC 02 9230 9133 in NSW (check listings for other states)

1. Speech to National Indigenous Tourism Forum, Sydney, 3 June 2000


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