An earlier post
observes that fashion design - and industry with thriving innovation and no IP - is eager to put new designs under lock and key. Needless to say, the culinary industry is not far behind. Pete Wells article in food and wine
(hattip: Jesse Walker
) describes Homaru Cantu's great new innovation: patenting recipes.
For all his originality, Cantu is not the only one who thinks that the ideas born in a restaurant should belong to the chef. There are at least two ways to claim legal protection for intellectual property. One is Cantu's route, through patents, but another, copyrighting a dish, could have much more far-reaching effects on the culinary world. Chefs have traditionally worked on an open-source model, freely borrowing and expanding on each other's ideas and, yes, sometimes even stealing them outright. But some influential people are now talking about changing the copyright law so that chefs own their recipes the same way composers own their songs. Under this plan, anyone who wanted to borrow someone else's recipe would have to pay a licensing fee.
Am I alone in doubting that this will increase culinary innovation?
Someone should remind the French chefs of their forefathers' inclination towards liberté, égalité, fraternité:
- All chefs have equal rights.
- All chefs support each other as brothers.
- And no chef, surely, would require the suspension of another chef's liberty simply to obtain an unfair economic advantage?
It is sad that just as the anachronism of monopolistic artifice hits the buffers, the publicity this crash causes make a few bystanders jealous that they've missed the gold rush.
Perhaps these deluded chefs are hoping they might squeeze a few tiny grains of economic incentive in copyright's twilight years?
And all these years they've been saying how computers will revolutionise the kitchen as they enable millions of housewives to share recipes with each other.
"Oh. She's just been arrested for 'file-sharing recipes with the intent to prepare meals or derivatives thereof'."