What do anthropologists, teachers, cultural leaders, digital artists, technologists, and lawyers do when they get together? Well, a group of us convened in Maine earlier this winter to talk about cultural sharing: As western corporations seek out the traditional knowledge of farmers and healers in the developing world, or artists seek ways to share their art with corporate audiences, could we develop frameworks in which those from different cultural backgrounds could share knowledge on equal footing?
A few intense days of discussion developed a Cross-Cultural Partnership framework, using the legal infrastructure of a partnership agreement to enable the parties to describe their joint and separate goals in a common project. The framework provides a bare template, to which those working together must add descriptions of their aims and intentions. It's our hope that the entanglement of the partnership form, requiring greater personal involvement than an arms'-length contract or license, will help parties to bridge different values and backgrounds.
We're still in early draft and I welcome readers' thoughts and comments. Excerpts from the template's preamble follow the "More" link.
From the Cross-Cultural Partnership Draft:
In many contexts people look to the law to establish or enforce a 'safe space' in which collaborative relationships may flourish. Good intention is more fundamental to establishing and sustaining relationships than law or codes of conduct. Nonetheless legal agreements and faith in the law often facilitate relationships where trust is not yet established.
Here we offer a template: the result of long-term consideration of issues around collaboration in many contexts. The template draws specifically, and intentionally, upon understandings abstracted from both established social practices and licenses developed for digital creations. Experience points to the significance of considering and accommodating the expectations, interests, and location of parties to a collaboration.
Copyleft has built its alternative upon the scaffolding of copyright law to achieve goals outside of that law's usual bounds. For the exchange of knowledge and creative partnerships (including between indigenous peoples, corporations and institutions, different disciplinary actors, etc.) we draw upon frameworks from the area of the law pertaining to partnership.