Friday, January 08, 2010

Archaeo-coffee showdown!

In case there's any doubt, I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks. Actually, I'm not a huge fan of weak, over-roasted drip coffee in general, but if I need a caffeine boost and I can't get to my own coffee-maker (it's all about priorities in life), I'd rather support a small-scale, independent operation. So, it's music to my ears to learn that Starbucks is in an archaeology related bind.

"The Mexican government says it has notified Starbucks Corp. that Mexico is owed intellectual property rights for a line of coffee mugs showing pre-Hispanic images... The mugs show images of the Aztec calendar stone and the Pyramid of the Moon from the pre-Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City."

If it were up to me, I would also suggest that the Mexican government force Starbucks to sell drinkable coffee, but maybe that's too much to hope for!


Anne Gilbert said...

Just to letcha know, I'm not a fan of Starbuck's, either. There are alternatives(some rather good), to Starbucks in Seattle, though it started there, and was much better than it is now, IMO. I go to a place called Tully's, which is a good deal more "local". It also has free wi-fi. Starbucks doesn't. The free wi-fi can be useful for me at times if I want to answer my e-mail without interruption and drink some latte at the same time. Oh, and AFAIK, they aren't in an archaeological dispute with Mexico or anywhere else!

Julien Riel-Salvatore said...

Anne -
glad to hear it! Given how important coffee has been and continues to be in my career, I probably care a bit too much about the issue. Regardless, I think this dispute between the Mexican government and Starbucks raises some interesting questions about the use of archaeological patrimony for commercial purposes. Is the archaeological record, once made available to the public at large, essentially 'open source' or copyright free, that is to be accessed and used by whomever? Does it 'cheapen' that record to have it bandied about and reproduced approximately? What if these images were used by a Mexican coffee shop or even chain - would that be ok?