Ever since the introduction of the Creative Commons licences to Aotearoa New Zealand, community members have been discussing the development of free legal tools for indigenous knowledge works. At the time, CCANZ decided to wait for the (then imminent) release of Ko Aotearoa Tenei, the Wai 262 Waitaingi Tribunal Report into, among other areas, Māori cultural and intellectual property rights.
This report was released in July 2011, but due to resource constraints and prioritising our efforts in research and education, our work did not start in earnest until 2013. Below, we outline some of the very general reasons why a new legal tool needs to be created, what our plans are for translation and what we have done so far.
Indigenous Knowledge and Copyright
As many indigenous peoples have long argued, copyright is not always an effective legal framework for indigenous knowledge.
This is partly because copyright protection on a work lasts for a limited period of time, after which the work enters the public domain, where it can be accessed and reused by anyone. This means that copyright to many indigenous works — which may be very old — will have long expired.
Also, many indigenous works do not have a single identifiable author. Instead, such works may be collectively authored, and may have been incrementally created over the course of several generations.
Creative Commons Licences and Indigenous Knowledge
Creative Commons licences are built on copyright, which means that the licences can only be applied in a legally meaningful way to works with copyright protection. Also, Creative Commons licences do not protect against culturally offensive uses of a work.
This means that Creative Commons licences will not always be an appropriate legal tool for indigenous groups seeking to make older works more accessible to the public.
An Indigenous Knowledge Notice
To help individuals or groups — such as iwi or hapū — that wish to make their works more accessible, Creative Commons is planning to develop a standard notice that would provide basic information on how the work is to be used. The notice will include attribution requirements and a series of restrictions on inappropriate uses of the work.
In late 2013, Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand held two meetings on the development of a notice, and will be looking to consult with interested parties during 2014. You can read the minutes of these meetings here.
Translating CC into Te Reo Māori
The Creative Commons licences have now been translated into Te Reo Māori, to enable more New Zealanders to openly release their copyright works.
- CCANZ’s meeting minutes provide some background on CCANZ’s work in this area, and the state of the discussion thus far.
- International Traditional Knowledge licences have been produced by Local Contexts.
- In 2007, The Ministry of Economic Development published a useful, print only guide, Te Mana Taumaru Mātauranga: Intellectual Property Guide for Māori Organisations and Communities, which may be available from your local library.
- CCANZ community developer Danyl Strype’s conference paper provides some background: “Kei hea ngā kete mātauranga e toru o ēnei wā: Where are the three baskets of knowledge of today?”
- For those looking for more detail, CCANZ Legal Team Member Professor Susy Frankel published an open access book which covers some of these issues, entitled Indigenous Peoples’ Innovation.
If you are keen to get involved with either the consultation on the notice or the translation of the licences, please get in touch. If you wish to discuss these or other issues with the Creative Commons community, you may wish to consider joining our discussion list.