OpenSpeaks is a toolkit for language documentation in multimedia forms created in 2017 to guide citizen language archivists who are documenting languages in audiovisual mediums.
While working closely with several language digital activists in Asia, particularly during the surge of COVID-19 last year, the OpenSpeaks team came across some of the practical challenges with audio-visual documentation of indigenous and endangered languages. The adverse impact of the pandemic on indigenous peoples was a caution to build resources and build capacity for community-led and decentralized language protection initiatives.
To learn more about the issues that the activists face, they conducted a survey and identified that, apart from necessary financial and technical resources, many activists do not also have the knowhow about vital topics such as copyright, licensing and acquiring consent for language documentation. As these are the foundation to language documentation, they started expanding these topics in a full-fledged chapter inside OpenSpeaks.
The chapter, titled “Consent, Content Rights and Content Licensing“, is designed keeping in mind a new or intermediate multimedia archivist, and it helps one to frame the modality of seeking consent based on a contextual environment, figuring the license for proper attribution inter alia templates to use during field documentation. The entire chapter is also translated into Santali, an indigenous language from India, keeping the cultural nuances intact.
As linguists Mandana Seyfeddinipur and Felix Rau underline the constantly evolving technical specifications in their paper “Keeping it real: Video data in language documentation and language archiving”, we focused on the social and cultural factors in this community-focused project.
Read the whole note by Subhashish Panigrahi here.