The Genome on A Patent Platter?

Congress, of course, does not own the human genome; nor is there any way under American law for Congress to stake out hegemony over our double helix and transfer a portion of this hegemony to others. The key lies in appreciating the First Amendment. My notion is that the biological universe and our perceptions of that universe comprise an idea marketplace. Debate over competing theories of this biological reality lies at the core of free expression and presupposes universal access to the reality under investigation. As Congress lacks the power to punish dissemination of these theories, so Congress lacks power to carve out segments of that idea marketplace and put them in the hands of any person or group to be allocated as they see fit.

... Shakespeare would be entitled to clothe Hamlet’s speeches in copyright dress, but Congress could not hand Einstein...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?