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close this section of the library Oswald, Brandon

View the PDF document Traditional cultural expression records of the South Pacific : sensitivities and access in the digital age
Author:Oswald, Brandon
Institution: University of Dundee
Award: M.A.
Subject: Cultural property -- Protection -- Oceania , Traditional ecological knowledge -- Oceania, Intellectual property -- Oceania
Date: 2011
Call No.: Pac KVC 735 .O89 2011
BRN: 1191922
Copyright:Over 80% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: As technology and technological skills have improved in recent years, access to cultural heritage materials in the South Pacific has also improved. Even anthropologists who have previously conducted fieldwork in this region are currently finding it easier to manage the moral responsibility of repatriating their ethnographic material. However, this open access to South Pacific indigenous materials causes concern regarding cultural sensitivities in the Digital Age. Indigenous societies of the South Pacific often maintain a different concept of “rights”- what is owned belongs to the group, not to the individual. Therefore the need for Intellectual Property protection takes on a whole new meaning. Digitization, too, plays a major role in the accessibility of cultural sensitive material, as there is presently no universal Internet policy for the dissemination of images and other works in the collections of cultural heritage organizations. Using case studies and other related published information, this research project will examine three main issues challenging access to culturally sensitive material in the South Pacific region centered on Intellectual Property rights: 1) the impacts of digitization from ethnographic records; 2) the definition of Traditional Culture Expression and the concept of “ownership” regarding Intellectual Property rights associated with these collections; 3) the involvement of indigenous and traditional communities with cultural heritage organizations in the management of their Traditional Culture Expression. This study will show that, although it was not the intention of cultural heritage organizations to offend indigenous groups, sensitive material previously intended to remain non-public may now be published, thus unwittingly releasing proprietary information. This may carry responsibilities of use of the information in them. While access concerns to culturally sensitive materials in the South Pacific region are widely discussed, this study will also emphasize the discussion of the moral consequences of introducing Western Intellectual Property laws in the South Pacific. Indigenous peoples may be better served in developing their own regulations in association with such organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Finally, this study will examine possible strategies and guidelines that cultural heritage organizations in the Pacific need to actively develop, manage, and maintain to better safeguard access and control over their native islander’s Traditional Cultural Expression.
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