Access to existing materials PDF Print E-mail

AIATSIS is a valuable resource and often the first place that community language researchers visit when seeking existing materials on their own languages. AIATSIS assists community people to access materials on their languages. However, due to copyright restrictions and the way materials are deposited, the process of obtaining copies from AIATSIS can be slow and complex. The materials often have access restrictions placed on them by the copyright owner or by particular individuals within a community, which add to the challenges faced by community people when collecting documentation and recordings of their languages. Permissions have to be sought, even though the materials are in the language of the community researcher and even though the materials were made possible by the relatives or countrymen of the community researcher. Obstacles experienced by community language researchers need to be significantly reduced for all language materials which are produced in the future by communities and their consultants. Community access rights can be maximised by ensuring that agreements or contracts are prepared at the time the materials are created, which clearly state that the material is owned by community members. Similarly, those depositing material at AIATSIS should nominate access conditions which will benefit the whole community (where appropriate).

Many linguists have copies of their own work, including unique materials, which may not be published. These materials, are of great value for future language analysis by linguists and they are also of great value to community people who are working to revitalise their languages. Some of these unique and valuable materials are stored in places and organised in ways not known by communities. It is vital for linguists to organise, copy, label and catalogue all of their materials during their lifetimes and make them available to communities and also make provisions for beyond their lifetimes. Linguists need to give serious consideration to depositing copies of their original/unpublished materials in an archive such as AIATSIS and assigning copyright to the appropriate communities or to AIATSIS. This would ensure that communities have access to all materials available about their languages. Once copyright is assigned to a community, that community will then hold rights in perpetuity to those materials for all future generations working on their languages.