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Fatsil addresses copyright issue | Language, Communities, Fatsil, Community, Projects, Project, Documents, Indigenous | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
Fatsil addresses copyright issue PDF Print E-mail

FATSIL is to undertake the development of a community derived model contract for indigenous language projects, which will provide a legal framework for the protection and copyright of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.


With the assistance of major grant funding from the Dept. of Aboriginal Affairs in New South Wales, the peak body will address the need identified by its members, to establish effective guidelines protecting the intellectual property rights of language owners.

The project will have benefits for all Indigenous communities undertaking or planning to undertake language projects, the associated expert personnel including linguists, researchers and teachers, and the professional associations representing these experts.

The project outline is to research, develop and publish guiding documents for communities to protect the rights of language owners. The model contract would have the capacity for joint copyright over materials and flexibility to protect the rights and interestsof all parties, (Indigenous language owners, researchers and others) involved in Indigenous community language projects.

FATSIL has undertaken considerable research into other currently available community protocol documents and model contracts, including the 'Standard language consultancy contract' developed some years ago by ATSIC.

It was found that none of the documents or contracts researched provides the flexibility that communities require in order to attract the best consultants available.

FATSIL identified key needs by consulting in particular the report of the ATSIC NSW Strategic Language Study 'Strong language, strong culture' (August 2000) which highlights the frequency of communities working with experts in the fields of linguistics and teaching across a broad range of language projects.

In developing this project FATSIL also referred to the ATSIC report 'Our culture our future' (1998), particularly recommendation 26.1.2 — negotiating rights under contracts —Indigenous people should assert their rights to their cultural and intellectual property and have such rights recognised under contracts'.

FATSIL Chairperson Lester Coyne said:

"Our members are grateful to the New South Wales Dept. of Aboriginal Affairs for providing funding for this project.This is a topic that has been discussed at our national language forums, and that the committee has targeted as a priority for 2003/2004.The outcome we'll be aiming for is to encourage community language owners to work with a range of other associated professionals, and feel safe that their knowledge won't pass on to the control of others, but stay within the community where it belongs."

Mr Coyne said the Governing Committee believed that offering communities protection through the development of an effective legal framework would encourage community confidence and increased involvement in language recording and publication.

Mr Coyne also indicated that when the documents had been completed they would be made available to communities throughout the country through FATSIL's website.