Publication Details

Antons, C. (2009). Foster v Mountford: cultural confidentiality in a changing Australia. In A. T.. Kenyon, M. Richardson & S. Ricketson (Eds.), Landmarks in Australian Intellectual Property Law (pp. 110-125). Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.


[extract] Foster v Mountford is a case belonging to the period in which Australian courts were finding their identity in deciding intellectual property disputes. As the first decision in Australia taking into account Aboriginal customary rights to culturally defined notions of secrecy, it is a landmark case. It symbolises a shift from assimilation policies based on the notion of Australia as terra nullius at the time of'discovery, towards a growing understanding of Aboriginal customs and associated rights. As a case dealing with anthropological publications, it has to be seen against its contemporary background of anthropological paradigms and the emergence of the academic discipline of anthropology in Australia. The case also has significance beyond Australian borders. In an ongoing debate about violations of indigenous cultural secrecy and 'rights to cultural privacy', the case has been regarded as one of the few legal actions examining such violations.

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