An excellent parable about the ridiculousness of intellectual property, passed on to me by one of my Mises Academy students, Herb Roussel: a story from Sufism, regarding Nasreddin Hodja, a comical character in several stories.
The Smell of Soup and the Sound of Money
One day a poor and hungry visitor took a piece of bread from his pocket and hold it over a hot cauldron food at a open restaurant window. The dry bread became softer and he began to eat it but the restaurant keeper stopped him for fee of the food steam. The poor visitor had no money and they decided to go to judge.
Our Hodja was the judge of the town and listened carefully both men. Hodja took some golden coins from his purse and show them to the restaurant keeper.
– Come here, please! said to him.
When he came to receive coins, Hodja jingled the coins in the palm of his hands to the man’s ear.
– Now the fee was paid, said Hodja.
– What is that all about? the restaurant keeper wondered and asked.
– Justice! Hodja replied, the sound of money is a fair compensation for the smell of the food.
Update: From Paul Foley:
“Variation on a story reported by Herodotus. (IIRC some Egyptian dreamed of sleeping with a famous courtesan, reported the dream, and she sued him for non-payment; Pharaoh had him produce a pot of gold, held it in front of a candle, and returned it, saying the shadow it cast on the wall was her payment.)”