[LINK] Man who wants to patent genome gets legal threat for James Joyce quote

Kim Holburn kim at holburn.net
Fri Mar 25 09:00:26 AEDT 2011

The man who wants to patent the human genome encodes some literary quotes in the DNA of a synthetic life form.  He gets one wrong and gets a legal threat for the other.  


> Craig Venter's Genetic Typo
> In May 2010, geneticist J. Craig Venter and his team made news by creating the first "synthetic life form," replacing the genetic code in a bacterium with DNA they'd composed on a computer.
> But during a presentation delivered Monday morning at the South By Southwest convention in Austin, Texas, Venter talked about two ways the landmark innovation went wrong.
> In order to distinguish their synthetic DNA from that naturally present in the bacterium, Venter's team coded several famous quotes into their DNA, including one from James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man: "To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life."
> After announcing their work, Venter explained, his team received a cease and desist letter from Joyce's estate, saying that he'd used the Irish writer's work without permission. "We thought it fell under fair use," said Venter.
> The synthetic DNA also included a quote from physicist Richard Feynman, "What I cannot build, I cannot understand."
> That prompted a note from Caltech, the school where Feyman taught for decades. They sent Venter a photo of the blackboard on which Feynman composed the quote –and it showed that he actually wrote, "What I cannot create, I do not understand."
> "We agreed what was on the Internet was wrong," said Venter. "So we're going back to change the genetic code to correct it."

Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
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