Investigating the use of Creative Commons licences with Indigenous language materials

Presented by Ms Cathy Bow and Prof David Price


With the increase in Indigenous knowledge available online, it is important to consider appropriate ways of respecting Indigenous perspectives on ownership of knowledge and concepts of copyright, especially where they differ from non-Indigenous understandings. Guidelines relating to Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) exist, yet are not always compatible with Western copyright law. Creative Commons licensing has become the default means of sharing creative content in digital environments, respecting copyright law while allowing a range of usages, and may offer a way forward in this complex area.

To explore how both Indigenous ownership and copyright law can be respected when working with Indigenous language materials, two legal experts in Creative Commons licenses were invited to facilitate a workshop in Darwin, involving researchers from different projects working with Aboriginal languages and language materials. This presentation will report on this workshop, which was supported by a small grant from the LEBA faculty.


Cathy Bow a linguist with research experience in both descriptive and applied linguistics. She currently works as project manager for the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages ( in the Northern Institute at CDU, and has recently commenced a PhD focused on the effect of digital technology on Aboriginal languages.

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