Skip to comments.Chilean Indians take on Microsoft
Posted on 11/23/2006 10:43:19 PM PST by MadIvan
MAPUCHE Indians in Chile are trying to take the global software giant Microsoft to court in a legal battle which raises the question of whether anyone can ever "own" the language they speak.
The row was sparked by Microsoft's decision last month to launch its Windows software package in Mapuzugun, a Mapuche tongue spoken by around 400,000 indigenous Chileans.
At the launch in the town of Los Sauces, Microsoft said it wanted to help Mapuches to embrace the digital age and "open a window so the rest of the world can access the cultural riches of this indigenous people".
But Mapuche tribal leaders have accused the US company of violating their cultural and collective heritage by translating the software into Mapuzugun without their permission. They sent a letter to Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, accusing his company of "intellectual piracy".
"We feel like Microsoft and the Chilean education ministry have overlooked us by deciding to set up a committee [to study the issue] without our consent, our participation and without the slightest consultation," said Aucan Huilcaman, one of the Mapuche leaders behind the legal action.
Microsoft declined to comment on the case, saying they could not do so until it is legally resolved.
A judge in Santiago is due to decide in the next two weeks whether the company has a case to answer.
"If they rule against us we will go to the Supreme Court, and if they rule against us there we will take our case to a court of human rights," said Lautaro Loncon, a Mapuche activist.
The case has sparked comment on internet blogs. Many Chileans appear to feel it is absurd for the Mapuche to claim the intellectual rights to their language, and say the Indians should be pleased to see it used on the worldwide web.
""We feel like Microsoft and the Chilean education ministry have overlooked us by deciding to set up a committee [to study the issue] without our consent, our participation and without the slightest consultation," said Aucan Huilcaman, one of the Mapuche leaders behind the legal action."
Is this moron for real? Since when do people need permission to use a language? Did these people invent the language? No. Do these people think they can get money for nothing? Yes. It's no wonder that people what lawyers to go the way of the dinosaur.
I'm surprised France doesn't charge a fee for everything written in French.
Damn, I knew I should have gotten that copyright on the english language.
That sounds like a great plan. Then when the last of the Indians is crying about how their language will die with them, this article can be given to them and they can see that they had a chance for the world to keep it alive.
Cutting off their own noses to spite their face.
What "own"??? Did Microsoft do anything that could be described as purchasing the rights to the language, such as copyrighting the translations, or some such? If so (and Microsoft has done such things in the past, so this is not rhetorical), then maybe the Indians have a gripe.
But if not, if all MS did was produce a version of Windows that works in that language, then they ought to STFU. We've sorta grown out of the days when taking a person's photograph "stole their soul". Same for language, IMO.
I'm no Microsoft fan, by any means, but I don't think they're in the wrong here unless they tried to get a copyright on the language or something like that.
Even better, I should have copywrited the alphabet.
I think an arab owns it. Or Michael Jackson.
I think that what they're really looking for is a deep pocket.
Perhaps the tribe got the idea from Sun Microsystem's lawsuit against Microsoft over the "Java" language. In the settlement, Microsoft paid Sun $20 million.
Let's all just go back to living in caves and hunting Dinosaur and to heck with technological progress and assimilation into modern culture. GEEZ !!!
They do. We have to put up with the fact that there are French people. A pretty steep fee if you ask me.
I don't think Microsoft should abide to these people's own law. Microsoft couldn't have done it by themselves without any help for somebody from the tribe. So, what the tribe's leaders can do is to punish the insider. But that's all they can do.
I'm wondering if Microsystem paid royalty to the Javanese of Indonesia.
Friend of mine owns the copyright to the letter "I".
No good deed goes unpunished.
The speaking of indigenous languages is part of the "indigenist movement," the usual stupid, short-sighted ethnic political obssession so popular these days. You can bet the leaders of these groups or anybody who wants to go anywhere among them speaks Spanish. The language is symbolic, although unfortunately the indigenists have had such effect that many of the poor and disadvantaged actually do not learn Spanish, so they are stuck poor and disadvantaged. MS was trying to make a nice gesture to the indigenists, I guess, although I don't know why they bothered.
"Is this moron for real? Since when do people need permission to use a language? Did these people invent the language?"
Well, that ax swings both ways. Bill has a language that he "invented" ....it is called Windows. He seems to have no compunctiion about enforcing others against using unlicensed copies of it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.