“Copy Debts”?—Towards a Cultural Model for Researchers’ Accountability in an Age of Web Democracy

The central concern of this article is the accountability of researchers in their desire to combine the publication of oral traditions with respect for the performers of these traditions. It is argued that the concept of copyrights implicitly imposes a written-text perspective and prioritizes national laws by which a group is a collection of individuals. Basing discussion on a representative case study of an epic text recorded in 2007 in Mali, this essay explores an alternative concept of “copy debts”: a cultural framework based on permanent dialogue, in which the performing group determines dynamically the terms and values of ownership/property.