3. Legal Stuff
There are a few legal issues to consider as you plan your jam. These are mostly generic things that all events should handle, with a few specific exceptions. Releases should be prepared which can be signed by the participants (and organizers, potentially) to release the event from liability of a variety of things. Similarly, if any official research will be conducted at the event on the participants, do not neglect to fill out an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application and get approval for the research well in advance (submitting at least 3 weeks ahead of time is recommended). All work done at a ChairJam must be released under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License. It is important to communicate this fact clearly to the participants as early as you can.
It is important that you have some releases prepared to avoid legal liability in the unfortunate case of an accident. Specifically, release from unexpected injury and allergic reaction is highly recommended. If you plan to record the event in pictures or video, a media release is also necessary. These contracts are fairly simple for a lawyer to draw up. Make sure that you get all participants to sign these before beginning the event. It is recommended to send them via email ahead of time, and have printed copies on hand at your greeting station for attendees to sign at the opening of the event, as people sign in and get their nametags.
A small note along similar lines - you should clarify with participants ahead of time that prototypes may be made with participants’ own wheelchairs. Ideally your ChairJam should have a few wheelchairs on hand so that this isn’t a necessity. However, it is important the wheelchair-using participants know ahead of time so that they can alert you if they would prefer not to use their own chair. This is particularly important given the great expense and relative fragility of some types of wheelchairs, and the absolute necessity of the chair’s full functionality for the health and well being of its user. Obviously, nobody can legally prototype on someone else’s wheelchair without their consent. But wheelchair-using participants should also not feel social pressure to allow prototyping that they are not comfortable with.
3.2 Ownership - The Creative Commons License
Everything created or done at a ChairJam must be released to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. Essentially, this means that the work is open for public use and derivation, as long as the user attributes the original creators and releases their own derivations under these same conditions. That is, all derivations would also be released under the same license. There isn’t too much work to be done here besides looking at the already prepared agreement and printing if off to be signed by participants. That being said, make sure your participants are aware of this fact before the event, so that, once again, they can decline if they have issues with it (and you’ll have time to find replacements).
We chose to use this license type because we feel that the products of a ChairJam should be open to all. ChairJam’s goal is not to produce a new multimillion dollar product, it is to change perceptions surrounding wheelchairs and their users. The more easily spread the message, the better. In any case, this license does not prevent anyone from taking the work they develop in the jam and commercializing it in some way, as long as they do not privatize the materials that were created in the jam. For instance, a team could decide to continue development of a hardware product based on their ChairJam experiments. They could sell the hardware commercially, while the plans for the hardware are still creative commons. This could still be commercially viable since many people would much rather purchase a ready-made hardware item than attempt to build it themselves from scratch.