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Best Practices for ICIP Management

By Adam Shul and Dr Terri Janke


TJC works to ensure that Indigenous peoples are empowered to manage their Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP). We believe that by being able to make decisions about how their cultural heritage, knowledge and cultural expression are used, Indigenous peoples can nurture strong cultural practices that can sustain future generations and build cultural and economic wealth. We do this by working with a wide range of Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients, in a range of sectors, including government, business, arts, education, and Indigenous corporations and organisations.


What is ICIP?

ICIP refers to the rights Indigenous peoples have to their cultural heritage, knowledge and cultural expression. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Artistic cultural expressions including literature, dance, and art;

  • Languages;

  • Traditional Knowledge;

  • Secret and Sacred Sites; or

  • Tangible and intangible Cultural Property.


There are still many systemic issues with the exploitation of ICIP. For instance, copyright law does not recognise oral knowledge but protects knowledge recorded in a material form. This has meant that outsiders have often ended up as the copyright owners of the written or recorded forms of knowledge. It also has led to situations where knowledge or cultural expression is used without permission and without reverence. This has further caused Indigenous communities to no longer wish to engage or collaborate. This can be a missed opportunity for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners. What is needed is a pathway to engagement that is based on sound principles that recognise ICIP rights of respect, consent, attribution and benefit sharing. Developing relationships that are built on trust and where partners transparently discuss the opportunities and negotiate use of ICIP, will lead to opportunities for Indigenous cultures to continue to thrive. It will also lead to better creative, business, environmental, and innovative collaborations.


Does my Organisation Deal with ICIP?

Every sector will engage with ICIP in some capacity. It is important to consider where your organisation or business encounters ICIP, and how ICIP is currently dealt with.


What Practices can you Implement to Manage ICIP Correctly?

From our 23 years of experience, we believe that there are many practices that can be implemented to ensure organisations are following the best ICIP protection and management practices. See our below checklist:


© Terri Janke and Company, 2023


If you are ready to get started on the pathway to managing and protecting ICIP, get in contact with us via tjc@terrijanke.com.au or (02) 9693 2577.

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