I’ve had some very interesting conversations in the last week and it’s been around Intellectual Property otherwise known as I.P. and copyright.

What I’d like to say as a self-publisher to many indigenous peoples out there who want to get published is to be very careful of ‘sharks’ or people out there who will take your I.P. and copyright and make it their’s.

What do I mean by that? (I’m glad you asked). When indigenous writers, artists, musicians etc. are wanting to share their stories, music, artwork with the world they really need to be careful of whom they are choosing to represent them be that a publisher, an agent, a representative of some sort.

One of the things that I would suggest would be to check if you are able to keep the copyright to your work if you are publishing be it manuscript or music score etc.

The reason why this is important is that many are so busy being happy that they are being published etc. but they don’t realise that the big companies and even small ones will not only publish your book but they will also own the copyright to that work and can print as many copies as they want. 

So that if you don’t already have a contract in place then they are able to make as many copies as they wish to sell and are supposed to give you the royalties on any extra copies that they might sell. The problem then becomes that when you don’t own the copyright to your book then you have no say over what happens to it.

In effect, you have sold that copyright to the agent, or publisher and effectively may have even sold the Intellectual property in that it becomes theirs. That’s why it’s really important for indigenous writers, artists etc. to carefully consider for what is best for their works for the future.

I’ve learnt as a self-published author that when I work in collaboration with other writers that the best way of working with them for them to keep the copyright to their own books therefore in the credits, in the front of the book, I would ensure that it stipulates that the copyright belongs to the authors.

In doing so, that means that the credit is given to them and the Intellectual property belongs to them and not to me as the publisher. People beware! there are sharks out there who parade themselves as helpers to indigenous peoples but then take your works and own the copyright and the Intellectual property. 

Please be vigilant in your precious indigenous works…

Photo credits: “Tekoteko” carving by Naufahu Veehala (Tongan). Te Wananga o Aoteaoroa ‘Toi’ exhibition Nov. 2020 at Mangere Campus.