Intellectual property, once primarily the purview of scholars and
lawyers, has become a part of our everyday lives. Medicines known to
native peoples for centuries are suddenly the property of multinational
corporations. Artists are sued for the common practice of reusing
materials and practices. Owners of legal copies of songs and videos
are prevented from playing them on their computers, and are turning to
Internet services to obtain
free copies. Patients find that
their cells or DNA are patented by hospitals. Discoveries funded by
tax dollars become income streams for private companies. Even the
links common to Web pages may be subject to some form of legal control.
In this Tutorial, we will explore two forms of intellectual property law,
copyright and patent, in the context of current cases and controversies
in art, genetics, medicine, and the Internet. We will also ground our
explorations in a practical task as we draft a potential patent policy
I usually create these pages
on the fly, which means that I rarely
proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details.
It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for
more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.
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