Eric Kansa, who has new job (congrats!), recently posted this article to iCommons about the possibilities and limitations of open access/creative commons models for indigenous communities. After discussing the benefits of openness to indigenous communities, as well as some examples of successful online projects, he discusses the limitations of existing legal frameworks to protect open content on the web:
While openness is empowering we need to remember that participation in open, collaborative systems should be a matter of choice and not compulsion. Few advocates of the commons would argue that it is ethical to broadcast confidential medical records or other personal secrets without the consent of people who are well informed of the risks of such exposure. Putting an “Attribution” licence on such content won’t make it any more ethical. In the same way, members of the global Commons need to recognise that ideas of privacy and secrecy vary widely, and indigenous ideas of what’s sacred, private, shareable, or secret vary tremendously. While Creative Commons licences can be a powerful tool for indigenous cultural expression, there are some cases where Creative Commons licence choices map poorly to local needs (Kansa et al 2005). To fill these gaps, other, non-standard, and incompatible licences may emerge as a result. Many elements of indigenous cultural heritage will probably never be neatly and cleanly compatible with global conceptualisations of “free culture” operating on a bedrock of compatible open licences. Much cross-cultural communication will likely take place in a necessarily “messy public sphere of contest, debate, and protest” (quoting Hayden 2003:46).
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