Observing and Respecting Diverse Knowledge Traditions in a Digital Archive of Indigenous Language Materials

Abstract

Australian copyright law and Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) have always sat uncomfortably together, each with their own internal logic and legitimacy, but forcing certain arrangements and compromises when applied to specific contexts. The collection of Indigenous language materials into a digital archive has required finding means to observe and respect these two incongruent knowledge traditions. The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages, an open online repository containing thousands of books in dozens of languages from Indigenous communities of Australia’s Northern Territory, offers opportunity to explore how the need to attend to both knowledge traditions led to specific decisions and practices. In particular, where the Australian copyright law was satisfied, additional steps were needed to respectfully incorporate Indigenous perspectives. This paper outlines the negotiations and compromises inherent in seeking a solution which observes and respects both Indigenous and western knowledge practices in a unique collection of cultural heritage materials.

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Published
2019-03-07