A group of prominent Pilbara Aboriginal artists say their copyright plight highlights the urgent need for stronger protection of intellectual property. Wangaba Roebourne Art Group in January revealed it would stop selling copyright for individual works because of what it described as an “unfair” playing field when striking deals for intellectual property rights. The group has instead moved to a licensing process it believes will lead to better negotiation. WRAG manager Linda Rowlands said the copyright process left artists vulnerable to exploitation. “These are not artists expecting anything on a global scale; art to them is about culture,” she said. “But companies and organisations who are in a position to know a lot better are taking advantage of the fact that a lot of the language used with these contracts ... most people would not be familiar with. “We have had a few people wanting to buy copyright and artists getting overwhelmed at the amount of money being offered, but then not understanding in essence once you have signed over copyright, they have no say on where their art is used. “(Licensing) brings a sense of security knowing you can produce art until your heart is content and can choose how it is used rather than finding it on a T-shirt somewhere further down the line and not being aware of it.” WRAG’s move comes as Federal Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher press ahead with further protections following last year’s Senate inquiry into the impact of inauthentic products on First Nations arts. The code is funded to provide information on legal protection. Standalone legislation is also being considered to protect Indigenous cultural expressions and a trial of digital labels for authentic art is ongoing. “The Morrison Government is working to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists’ economic, cultural and intellectual property interests and encourage a fair and ethical marketplace,” Mr Fletcher said. Ms Rowlands said new legislation would play an important role in protecting Aboriginal art.