James Joyce and the first synthetic life form by jjqblog
March 21, 2011, 12:27 PM
Filed under: People

The James Joyce Estate has recently clashed with the  revolutionary work of Dr. J. Craig Venter, a geneticist from (and founder of) the J. Craig Venter Institute. According to Forbes.com, In May 2010, Dr. Venter and his team created the “first synthetic life form” by replacing DNA from bacteria with a genetic code they manufactured on a computer, a project that has taken 10 years and $40 million. To distinguish their synthetic DNA from the natural, the team coded several famous literary quotes into their constructed genetic structure, including, “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to create life out of life” from Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Dr. Venter and his team received a cease and desist letter from the Joyce Estate, claiming that Dr. Venter used (and duplicated) Joyce’s words without permission. Dr. Venter thought The Portrait fell under fair use.

Several interesting bloggers have commented on the legal implications of Dr. Venter’s project and the Estate, including one who imagines what would happen if this copyright infringment went to court and ruled in favor of the estate: would Dr. Venter and his team have to pay with every microbe multiplication?

There has been no mention yet of any changes–that is, the removal of Joyce’s words–to Dr. Venter’s project. All in all, it should be interesting to see what unfolds.


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New York Law School’s legal reporting blog, LASIS, takes on how this copyright infringement issue would fare in the courts: http://www.lasisblog.com/2011/04/02/copyright-clash-at-the-cellular-level/

Comment by LASIS_BLOG

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