Traditional Knowledge Commons License

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Source: Report: Imagining a Traditional Knowledge Commons. A community approach to sharing traditional knowledge for non-commercial research. IDLO, 2009. By Elan Abrell et al. [1]


"The general characteristics of the licenses (Traditional Knowledge Commons License) could include:

a) The use of the knowledge takes place only on the terms of the license. Any person using the knowledge is therefore taken to have agreed to be bound by the license. The license sets out not general permission to use the knowledge but how knowledge can be used, what obligations a user incurs to respect the spiritual and cultural values of the knowledge bearing community. The licensee will not appropriate or profit from any new development based on the TK by restricting further access to such new development or requiring payment for it, but will instead place these new developments back into the TK Commons, usually by placing it under the same license.

b) TK shall be used in a manner that is not inconsistent with the stated terms and conditions in the license.

c) Any subsequent non-commercial users of the TK or developments based on it who access it from the licensee will also have to comply with the terms of the license.

d) All licensees must provide enduring recognition of the source of the TK.

e) Any change in licensed use of the TK would require explicit permission from the holders of the TK.

f ) The licensee will not use the TK in any manner that would cause harm to the environment

g) The license requires that subsequent users of the knowledge comply with the license

Researchers who engage directly with TK communities would need to take on greater responsibilities to the community in terms of non-monetary benefit sharing than others who make use of the knowledge, as it is mediated through the primary researchers. Primary researchers would therefore need research licenses which impose a broader range of requirements on them, one of which is that the various research outputs must be licensed under traditional knowledge commons licenses. A research license would be issued to an individual researcher on personal application by that researcher, while a traditional knowledge commons license would operate in the same manner as a free software license, by accompanying the encoded knowledge resources and applies to everyone who uses the resource. Both types of licenses would conform to the general characteristics listed above." (