New Indigenous Cultural IP theft sparks fundraiser

Posted on January 19, 2023

Katie Elizabeth and Hayley Percy, founders of Victorian games studio guck, have launched a fundraising campaign to fight against Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) theft in video games.

Australia’s Indigenous Cultural IP sector is a very large and often overlooked area. ICIP covers art, languages, tangible and intangible cultural property and resources, documentation of heritage and histories, and of course, materials and themes developed for games. The demand for First Nations cultural content is rising, and numerous industries, businesses, and projects are interested in using this content. Many studios reach out to relevant Registered Aboriginal Parties of Traditional Owner Consultants to gain guidance and approval on their use of ICIP. Sadly, not always in the right way.

 

Some businesses and organisations get ICIP in ways that are unfair to or inaccurately reflect First Nations people and the communities they are collaborating with. People are mistreated, exploited, and forced into agreements that harm the community’s finances, spirituality, and culture.

Studio guck started the fundraiser after a recent unnamed video game developer allegedly intended to use ICIP for commercial use, without genuine consultation and permission from the relevant Traditional Owner groups. Regrettably, this developer has refused to stand down.

“…we have been spending our own funds to cover the legal fees for this. We wanted to do whatever we could to support the protection of ICIP and ensure people and Communities are kept safe… It is our opinion that this case is worth fighting, as it sets precedents for the games industry in Australia. We want to see an ethical, just and inclusive future for all.”

Seeing Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and other First Nations cultures from around the world in a medium like video games is always such a beautiful and insightful experience. There are a handful of Aussie projects we love, including Innchanted and Virtual Songlines. We look forward to seeing more and more in the future, but that won’t happen appropriately unless the right course of action is taken.

For more information about the fundraiser, visit the Stop ICIP theft in games donation page.