I do not believe the prince who renounced the world in order to attain Enlightenment would approve of these copyright shenanigans in Taiwan:
The funeral industry has been rocked by a lawsuit filed by a music company that accuses funeral homes of intellectual property right (IPR) infringement for playing Buddhist chants and pop music during services.
Music and Buddhist chants during funerals are usually provided by the funeral homes, mostly using a gadget called the Electric Buddhism Sutra Player (above) or music CDs.
However, one music company feels the use of the sutra player constitutes as copyright infringement and began recording audio and video footage of services earlier this year at funeral homes all across the nation. It then filed lawsuits against a number of funeral homes, demanding a copyright fee of NT$500.
There’s actually an interesting intellectual-property concept at the heart of this brouhaha—namely, whether unique interpretations of previously published material should enjoy some measure of legal protection. (I, for one, would not mind a whit if Lily Allen gets a dash of cash every time someone plays her version of “Womanizer.”) But the key there is “unique”—the litmus test should be whether there was creative sweat poured into the endeavor. In the case of these sutra players, the only hard work consisted of coding the ancient tunes onto chips. I very much doubt the programmers thought they were adding a new level of insight.
As is so often the case in situations like this, most Taiwanese funeral homes are reacting not by coughing up the requested money, but rather by simply putting the grieving families in charge of the music—thereby removing the commercial element of the “performance.” How the maker of the Electric Buddhism Sutra Player didn’t see that maneuver coming from a mile away is beyond my powers of comprehension.