Microsoft is under legal attack in an unconventional intellectual property spat. The company is being dragged through the courts by a Chilean tribe known as the Mapuche Indians, who allege that Microsoft has stolen their language.
One of the newest language packs for Windows XP is the Chilean language of Mapuzugun, the native tongue spoken by about 400,000 members, or two-thirds, of the Mapuche tribe.
But while the Mapuches seem happy with being brought into the digital age, they have taken offence to Microsoft’s alleged failure to consult with the tribal leaders over the production of the language pack.
Although some Mapuches presumably aided Microsoft in the creation of the pack, the Mapuches claim that these people did not act in the best interest of the tribe. It is alleged that the leaders have been overlooked and that they should have control over their language.
What appears to be the key issue is whether a language can be closed. It could be argued that all languages are open source by default.
The Mapuches are also lobbying for Mapuzugun to be recognised as Chile’s second language, even though it is only spoken by four percent of the population.
Mapuche Indians declare war on Microsoft
By Clement James on Nov 28, 2006 10:00AM