13 February

Media Release: A Step Forward to Stop the Fakes

The Arts Law Centre of Australia, the Indigenous Art Code and Copyright Agency | Viscopy today welcomed the proposed introduction of legislation to end the practice of the production and sale of art products and merchandise which misappropriates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture.

The Private Members Bill from the Member for Kennedy, Mr Katter MP, highlights an issue which has been of concern to the Indigenous community and artists for some time.  It proposes that the Parliament act to help prevent the exploitation of Indigenous culture and the deception of consumers about the authenticity of arts and craft goods they are buying.

This issue has been central to the ‘Fake Arts Harms Culture’ campaign which has helped raise awareness of how widespread the practice of creating commercial works in an ‘Aboriginal style’ but with no connection to the Indigenous community has become.

This practice, which is largely aimed at tourists, deprives Indigenous communities and artists of control of their cultural heritage as well as fair payment for their work.  It also disadvantages consumers who believe they are buying genuine works and those ethical suppliers who make the commitment of only stocking authentic Indigenous art products and merchandise.

Banduk Marika, Yolngu Artist “the ecosystem, the environment we live in is full of natural resources. Our art is our resource, it belongs to us we use it in a ceremonial context; it is a resource for our survival. If control of that resource is taken away from us, we cannot meet our cultural obligations; we cannot use it for our families benefit. Exploiting our resource needs to be negotiated on our terms, we need to have control of how that’s done”

Robyn Ayres, CEO of the Arts Law Centre of Australia “we support the option of introducing legislation to deal with this matter.  It considers it practical and appropriate to extend consumer protection laws and draws on the existing expertise and regulatory powers of the ACCC”

Gabrielle Sullivan, CEO of the Indigenous Art Code said that “This is an opportunity to ensure that Indigenous communities and artists maintain control of goods that bear their art, their culture, what belongs to them; that consumers are not misled; and that ethical businesses are recognised”


For more information please contact Sophie Byrne, Arts Law Marketing and Communications Coordinator at sbyrne[@]artslaw.com.au