I've been scanning the research proposal (PDF; September 2007) of the 'Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage' project; currently it's almost all there is on their site, but hopefully that will change soon.
There's something bothering me: the way references to ethics get thrown in there but clear references to moral philosophy don't. Indeed, the 'stakeholder' language makes me wonder how much examination of its own assumptions the project will countenance.
The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project is concerned with the theoretical, practical, policy, and ethical implications of flows, restrictions, and appropriations of knowledge about the past, how these affect communities, researchers, and other stakeholders, how they are defined and used, and how fair and appropriate use and access can be achieved to benefit all stakeholders
To be fair, the only specific objective which mentions ethics states that the aim is 'to generate and disseminate evidence-based research results and knowledge that inform discussions of theory, practice, policy and research ethics on these topics at local to global levels' (my emphasis). On the other hand, among the list of staff assignments to working groups is this:
IP and Research Ethics Working Group
Catherine Bell (UAlberta)... directed a major SSHRC-funded project that confronted this topic head on and identified a need for further exploration and research. Her interest is in research that informs Canadian heritage policy and research relations. She speaks internationally on these issues.
Kelly Bannister (UVic, POLIS Project Director) has devoted her career to exploring local governance mechanisms that facilitate equitable and collaborative research practices (Bannister 2005, in press). She chairs the Ethics Committee of the International Society of Ethnobiology and worked with the CIHR Task Force on Aboriginal Issues to develop research ethics guidelines.
Elsewhere on the Web we can see that Bell works in the Faculty of Law and Bannister is backed by the UBC Centre for Applied Ethics but has a scientific background. Which is no way makes them automatically unsuited for the role; but predictably, I am a little nervous (it's far too early to be actually alarmed) about the degree of philosophical expertise this ethics group will turn out to possess. [Update: if this was a indeed problem at the time, it no longer is; I gather that some philosophers working in ethics are involved in the project.] Later on we learn that the 'Advisory Board consists of scholars recognized as experts in cultural heritage, law, archaeology, Indigenous issues, IP, and knowledge mobilization' (indeed, it includes one of our own Durham professors). I wonder how concerned with ethics this project is exactly, and what assumptions it makes in the field; what bothers me, principally, is not being able to tell on the basis of the research proposal.