Thursday, June 07, 2012

Limits to copyright

Following the link from boingboing.net I checked out this great story of a Chinese company cloning a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town in Austria.

Minmetal Land Inc. had the replica of the 900AD town built within a year, to serve as a housing estate.

Residents of the original town, Hallstatt, were simultaneously 'miffed' and 'proud'. Representatives said they would prefer to have been asked. The bottom line is, I guess, that an ancient town can't be copyrighted.

That is a perfectly intelligible proposition. We wonder if permission had been sought how it would have been negotiated. And if, at some 'official' level permission had been declined, could it have been policed?

What strikes us as a cute irony is the fact that unlike the original Hallstatt -- a cultural creation that has evolved over centuries -- Minmetal's creation will have detailed plans and could conceivably be reproduced, in which case the creators of the clone might have more valid bases for resisting reproduction than the present day 'owners' of the original.

Are Minmetal's design and plan copyrighted, we wonder. Could they be? Would it be in anyone's interests?

Meanwhile, we guard our pages and paragraphs .....

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