Creative Commons LicenseSarawak Gone is, unless otherwise stated, licensed under an Attribution Creative Commons License. This means you can share and re-purpose any materials on this site so long as you acknowledge the copyright holder and producer, Toy Satellite.

What is an open video, or open content micro-docs series?

It’s a documentary series where each episode is available for download, for screening, copying and re-purposing at no cost. Additionally, off-cuts, raw footage, location sound, full interviews and scripts are available, or will be available as the project unfolds online.

Sarawak Gone is licensed to enable as wide-scale distribution as possible. Sure, it would be lovely to get a return on my personal investment in the project and pay the people who have worked on it with me, but it would be a much greater reward if something more tangible could be done to protect the rights of Sarawak’s forest communities and a total cessation of all logging and primary industry development there. I would be much happier with that and so too the thousands of people who continue to be displaced from their customary homelands.

Some, not all rights reserved

I like the idea that I have the sole right to give my rights away. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. I’ve reserved some, but not all rights. Open licenses such as Creative Commons provides one the mechanics to reserve a modicum of rights with relative ease.

I once asked Elliott Bledsoe (Creative Commons, Australia) what he considered the most radical CC license, or rather, what would his license of preferred recommendation be for the most common uses. He replied, “Attribution” only. His view, if one has content not doing anything, you might as well give it away and good luck to anyone who makes something of it because it’s doing bugger all sitting in a shoe-box or a hard-drive.

That’s good enough for me. Sarawak Gone is released under a licence that requires that only the copyright owner, Toy Satellite, be acknowledged were any of the projects’ materials be shared and / or re-purposed. Where stated, the micro-docs and all associated materials can be shared, distributed and re-used at no cost. However, there’s another reason why I’d chosen this license.

Rights re-assigned

First I need to clarify where the Rights to Sarawak Gone actually reside. My production company, Toy Satellite, under a Deed of Assignment, has the right to assign, licence or otherwise dispose of the Rights granted to it by me, to release the entire series and associated materials under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

The Deed of Assignment specifies, in Section 4, The Production Company (Toy Satellite) may assign, licence or otherwise dispose of the Rights granted. The Production Company has done just that, assigned its Rights to a Creative Commons Attribution license that enables people to share and re-use these works on the basis that Toy Satellite is acknowledged in the process.

Copyright ought not be a hindrance, it should encourage the proliferation and diversification of ideas. Once the micro-docs are online, up and out in the world they ought reach as many people as possible. For example, should these works propagate across Malaysian blogs and public interest sites, perhaps cultivate a deeper understanding of and compassion for their fellow Malaysians in the East suffering under a corrupt and increasingly oppressive government. Curiously, some West Malaysians aren’t even allowed entry to Sarawak. One wonders whether Sarawak is part of Malaysia at all.

Social justice is not a market place

The material I’ve shot I’d done so under the care, guidance and trust of dozens of indigenous people who have led me to their villages, invited me into their homes and told me their stories. What I’ve shot ought actually belong to them. Unlike some unscrupulous activists and NGO workers who had come before me, who had photographed and filmed many of these communities, I’ve made all my material available to the people themselves, to their support teams, their lawyers, interested journalists, students, researchers, all NGOs and activists… basically, any one interested in or working on these issues can make use of anything I’ve recorded, photographed, shot or written.

I’ve encountered others who have worked in the same communities who have not been prepared share what they’d shot or recorded with the people in question. Local activists are charged fees by these people, many of them NGOs, for access to these materials. I find this criminal. It doesn’t support the cause, it turns activism and social justice into a market place.

Market places are essential spaces for the purchase of food and the necessities of life, but not the images and recordings of people, and certainly not people who have spent their entire cultural history built on trust and who invest so much hope in the people who come to them from abroad, to document their struggles and re-tell their stories.

Protecting rights, protecting diversity

Sure, we all need to survive. We need to support ourselves and ensure we can continue to do this kind of work, but just how much wealth do we need? It’s wonderful to be acknowledged for one’s work. That’s enough for me. Moreover, it’s of greater import if our elected leaderships take heed of our messages, that we all take responsibility for the need to conserve and protect the fundamental rights of all people and those for whom the forests are home and storehouses of unfathomable biological diversity that sustains us all.

Andrew Garton
February 2010

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The Last Forest People of Sarawak