Sobre la propriedad intelectual

Those concerned with questions of copyright and intellectual property might do well to recall some lines from Juan Ruiz, supposed Archpriest of Hita, which could be applied to these. The Libro de Buen Amor or Book of Good Love, finished in 1343, is his set of stories and songs for juglars or anyone else who wants to sing. Here are some of his comments on the permitted and non-permitted uses of this work.

Qualquier omen, que lo oya, si bien trovar sopiere,
puede más y añadir et emendar si quisiere,
ande de mano en mano a quienquier quel’ pidiere,
como pella a las dueñas tómelo quien podiere.

Anyone who hears this book, if he knows how to make verses,
may add more to it, or change what’s there, if he would like;
let the book go from hand to hand, let those who request it, have it;
as with a ball among young women, take it if you can.

This view on intellectual property could also function as an early manifesto for open source software.

Pues es de buen amor, emprestadlo de grado,
non desmintades su nombre, nin dedes refertado,
non le dedes por dineros vendido nin alquilado,
ca non ha grado, nin graçias, nin buen amor complado.

Since this is a book of Good Love, lend it out gladly;
do not make a mockery of its name by keeping it in reserve;
nor exchange it for money by selling or renting it,
for Good Love, when bought, loses its charm.

In another part of the book, Ruiz tells us he has written other songs, not included in the manuscript. There are songs “for dancing and trotting” tailored to Jewish girls, Moorish girls, and procuresses.  There are begging songs for the blind, burlesque songs, parodic songs, and songs for carousing students. If we do not know these songs already, we will hear them from the singing-girls: “el cantar que non sabes óilo a cantaderas.”


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