Copyright cases plague legal system
on 9/13/2003 (6)
Spawned by Internet piracy suits and reparations claims, a new gambit has appeared on the legal gaming board. Attorney Johnny Beauford explains:
"Everyone who claims they have created anything is suing for residuals. We got a plaintiff in Chile who claims to be the father of the potato. He claims Europeans came to the Andes in the 19th century and took plant clippings and tubers without a formal release agreement. He wants royalties on every French Fry, baked potato and bag of Ruffles ever made."
"Here's some more. An Indian man living in Peoria, Illinois, claims to be the direct ancestor of the tribe that grew tobacco and gave it to Europeans, again without fair compensation. He wants 51 percent of Phillip Morris and a percentage of profits on all smoking accessories, such as pipes, rolling papers and filters.
I've got a case of chocolate growers from Brazil suing Hershey, a New England Iroquois tribe suing for rights to corn, and even a claim from Eskimos trying to seize kayak and parka patents. And here's my personal favorite, the Inca descendants want rights to Tequila, which they called "pulque", worm included."
But is pulque really Tequila? Not according to Beauford.
"It's the precursor, yes. But it's unrefined, undistilled and unbottled, not to mention unmarketed and undistributed. That's the common thread with all of these cases. They point to the primitive beginnings to these products, but ignore the supporting technology that made them desirable, profitable and widely consumed."
When the tobacco plaintiff was asked if he would also like to inherit billions of dollars of cancer lawsuits against his alleged invention, he scornfully countered:
"I'm in this to MAKE money, paleface. Anyway, you gave us whiskey and showed us how to drink it...hmmm, you're giving me ideas. I'm sure there's a lawsuit in that one too!"?sid=1
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