cultural property rights

n.The concept that a society, especially that of indigenous peoples, has the authority to control the use of its traditional heritage.


Cultural property rights are roughly analogous to copyright, but the rights are held by a community rather than an individual and the property protected was received by transmission through generations rather than being consciously created. Cultural property rights have not been generally established or codified by statute in the United States, although the Native American Graves Preservation and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) may be seen as recognizing those rights. Other countries, notably Australia, have begun to codify cultural property rights.


Janke 1998 Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights. 'Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property' refers to Indigenous Peoples' rights to their heritage. Heritage comprises all objects, sites and knowledge, the nature or use of which has been transmitted or continues to be transmitted from generation to generation, and which is regarded as pertaining to a particular Indigenous group or its Territory. Heritage includes: Literary, Performing and Artistic Works (including songs, music, dances, stories, ceremonies, symbols, languages and designs); Scientific, agricultural, technical and ecological knowledge (including cultigens, medicines and the phenotypes of flora and fauna); All items of movable cultural property; Human remains and tissues; Immovable cultural property (including sacred and historically significant sites and burial grounds); Documentation of Indigenous Peoples' heritage in archives, film, photographs, videotape or audiotape and all forms of media. The heritage of an Indigenous people is a living one and includes objects, knowledge and literary and artistic works which may be created in the future based on that heritage.