US continues double-standard on IP

Budweiser, Parmesan, Cheddar, Bologna, Gorgonzola…all these terms represent a small sample of ideas from Europe shamelessly taken and used indiscriminately throughout America without credit to their true origins.

In the case of Budweiser (pun intended), as I’ve mentioned before, the US brewing company had the nerve to not only copy the Czech beer, but to try and force a ban on the original from continuing to be sold in its own country. Likewise, Disney is infamous for taking public domain fairy tales like Cinderella and claiming them as original works of art to be globally protected under US law:

The tale’s origins appear to date back to a Chinese story from the ninth century, “Yeh-Shen.”? Almost every culture seems to have its own version, and every storyteller his or her tale. Charles Perrault is believed to be the author, in the 1690s, of our “modern”? 300-year-old Cinderella, the French Cendrillon.

Hard to say how accurate such a claim is, but it certainly gives a different perspective on the recent trade debate on IP and how the US feels it needs to protect its “innovation”:

US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement accompanying the report: “Innovation is the lifeblood of a dynamic economy here in the U.S. and around the world,

“We must defend ideas, inventions and creativity from rip-off artists and thieves.”

Wonder if the authors of Yeh-Shen were ever compensated appropriately by those who retold the story…

Of course the ability to duplicate a medium makes the issue more complicated, but perhaps the problem is in over-estimating value of a recording versus live performance? There must be some freakonomics at work here. I mean does a DVD really need to cost US$30, or are the prices and loss estimates inflated by fees paid to lawyers and lobbyists?

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