Over at Wired, Jennifer Granick makes an interesting comparison between the music industry and ramen:
People play guitar in all sorts of styles, riffing on notes the way the Japanese riff on the basic concept of Chinese noodles in soup. What if the original ramen chefs tried to stop others from developing their own ramen recipes and making differently flavored ramen broth?
They’d form an association — say, the Ramen Industrial Alliance of Asia, or RIAA — and announce a clampdown on the proliferation of infringing noodle shops. Their arguments would echo the music industry’s. “The chefs who created ramen deserve to get paid for their creation,” they’d say. “These noodle shops are taking profits away from the creators, while peddling an often-inferior product to an unsuspecting public that believes they are getting real ramen.”
Just as the music industry claims that tab sites are publishing “derivative works” related to the original musical compositions, the ramen industry lawyers would argue that ramen varieties are derivations of the original product. Kyushu’s tonkatsu (pork) ramen, Sapporo’s miso ramen or Hakodate’s shio (salt) ramen divert customers and take ramen sales away from the original chefs.
In a world of Maruchan, Nissin, and other instant crap, it’s nice to know that somewhere, pig bones are slowly simmering over a low flame, releasing collagen and combining with the other ingredients to make a rich, delicious broth. Long live tonkotsu (and tonkatsu, but not in ramen)!