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Recipe copyright: not such a tasty idea

Recipe copyright: not such a tasty idea

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Here's an article from Food and Wine about the trend towards attempting to attach patent and copyright restrictions to restaurant food.  According to the article, cooks are not at all convinced that such restrictions are a good idea.  So if the food geeks, for whom written-down ideas and fixed expressions are only a small part of the big picture, can recognize that intellectual property is at best a mixed blessing and pretty often a bad idea entirely; then why can't we technology geeks, for whom written-down ideas and fixed expressions are pretty much the whole picture, see the same thing?

I remember several years ago attending a panel discussion on copyright here at the University of Waterloo and asking one of the panelists (paraphrase from memory):  "Okay, suppose Heaven forbid that I'm a big fan of McDonald's hamburgers, and so I go home and try to cook hamburgers myself that will be as close as possible to theirs, and what do you know, I produce a very good imitation McDonald's hamburger, indistinguishable from the ones they might sell me, discernably copies of a McDonald's burger and not a Wendy's burger, and I eat those instead of buying them from McDonald's.  Is that okay?" Yes, it's okay, I was told.  "But am I not stealing the profit they'd get if I bought the burgers from them instead of cooking my own at home?" My point was that making unauthorized copies of materials like CDs, for personal use at home, would be exactly the same thing, and isn't any more "stealing":  the music studios are no more entitled to a profit for the discs I copied, than McDonald's would be entitled to a profit for the hamburgers I copied.  It wasn't their money to begin with and I'm not taking it away from them.  Let them burn the disc or the beef and then talk to me about getting paid.  I didn't mean it to literally refer to food.  I thought nobody would be crazy enough to try to apply it to food.

Looks like I was wrong on that score.

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