Tuesday, October 10, 2006

:: yummies :: Food and copyright

+ A very intersting article on innovation in the restaurant industry and copyright.
As a writer, I rely on copyright law for much of my income, so I'm already sympathetic to Shaw's argument. People who sweat over new ideas deserve compensation. And there's a sense in which rewriting the copyright code to include food seems like the ultimate acknowledgment that chefs have arrived. Once they were seen as tradesmen, like carpenters and plumbers. Now we treat them as creative artists—shouldn't the law see them that way too?

The trouble, as even Shaw will admit, is that many chefs don't like the idea. Even Grant Achatz, who says that the Interlude Web site showed 17 dishes he invented, is against a copyright system for food. "Chefs won't use it," Achatz says. "Can you imagine Thomas Keller calling me and saying, 'Grant, I need to license your Black Truffle Explosion so I can put that on my menu'?"

Even if chefs did support the system, it's not clear they would benefit from it. Shaw compares chefs to musicians, who have generally profited from the copyright law. My fear, though, is that they are more like newspaper reporters, who typically surrender ownership of their work. If a reporter writes a story on the company's clock, that story belongs to The Man. If copyright law were extended to restaurants, it seems quite likely that proprietors would lay claim to any dishes invented in their kitchens. What about the sous-chef or line cook whose brilliant idea this afternoon landed right on tonight's menu—what are the chances he'd see any royalties? Restaurateurs would stockpile the rights to scads of recipes with the hope that one of them will turn out to be the next molten chocolate cake. Only chef-owners would retain their rights, and chef-owners are already the elite of their profession.

No comments :

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...