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A PORTRAIT OF RESEARCH AS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

by | Mar 17, 2011 | Copyright | 0 comments

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, today we present a bit of Irish-related IP news.

Craig Venter, a scientist renowned for his research in synthetic life, made headlines by creating self-replicating synthetic bacteria containing a custom-made genome designed entirely from scratch.  To make sure the bacteria created were the result of the custom genome and not an assembly of naturally occuring bacterial DNA, Venter and his team encoded particular segments of text into the DNA sequence to act as watermarks.  Included in one of these watermarks was a quote from James Joyce’s novel A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man.

The estate of James Joyce has recently declared Venter’s use of this one sentence amounts to copyright infringement, and has issued a cease and desist letter.  In response, Venter maintains he thought it was fair use to use the quote.