Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Azerbaijani government copyrights folklore

This is pretty baffling. News came out yesterday that the government of Azerbaijan have discussed placing copyright protection on folklore samples so companies must pay to use them for commercial purposes.

Here's what the story said:

On Monday, the Azerbaijani Parliamentary Cultural Committee discussed amending the Law on "Legal Protection of the Samples of Azerbaijani Folklore."
According to the proposed amendment, legal and physical entities will be obliged to get permission from the government and to pay for samples of folklore for commercial purposes, Chairman Nizami Jafarov said at the meeting.

I agree that folklore should be protected to an extent, but to copyright a culture's folklore is ridiculous. Who is going to determine that a particular sample is unique to Azerbaijan? Many cultures share very similar folklore, and much of what Azerbaijan calls their own folklore may have originated elsewhere - so how would that be policed? Take Tepegoz, for instance. Tepegoz is Azerbaijan's mythical cyclops creature, similar to Polyphemus in The Odyssey. Should an advertiser steer clear of using a cyclops to promote their brand in fear of a lawsuit?

I'm going to keep on top of this story as it develops and we'll see what the outcome is. I hope they decide that this is a stupid move and that folklore should stay out of the realm of legalities.