1999 heralds the beginning of the United Nations Decade for Indigenous Peoples. A number of issues will be highlighted throughout the decade and new opportunities will emerge. In recent years both Australia and New Zealand have witnessed a rebirth of interest in indigenous issues. One of the more complex issues that has emerged has been that of cultural and intellectual property rights. Assertion of property rights over traditional forms of knowledge will become one of the leading challenges for indigenous peoples during this decade. Indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights do not fit neatly into western legal frameworks and this therefore leaves the knowledge of indigenous peoples vulnerable to exploitation. Indigenous peoples are establishing their own networks and working through international organisations such as the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations to identify sectors where cultural and/or intellectual property rights are being compromised. Libraries and information centres store and provide access to a variety of resources that fall into the category of intellectual and cultural property and this will subject our sector to intense scrutiny. This paper will identify what constitutes cultural and intellectual property rights, how it conflicts with western law, and what the implications for libraries and information centres are.
Lilley, S.C. Indigenous intellectual and cultural property rights. Paper presented at the 8th Asia-Pacific Specials, Health and Law Librarians Conference 22-26 August 1999 Hobart, Tasmania.