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  • Wednesday, January 11, 2006



    My preliminary comments on The Anarchist in the Library attracted a comment from the author Siva Vaidhyanathan. Cool. This led me to his site Sivacracy. There are a number of participants/posters in the blog and much of the content concerns law and legal questions, particularly copyright law. Since Mr. Vaidhyanathan also authored Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001), this is not a surprise.

    One post I found interesting was a reprint of a Washington Post article about high school students worrying whether they were violating copyrights with a charity cookbook with donated recipes.

    Intellectual Property (IP) law is a very important segment of the law. For quite a while, at least thirty years, IP laws have gotten quite amazingly weird. Many people have heard of, say, the Human Genome Project which mapped out the human gene but few people are aware that IP laws have allowed corporations to patent little bits of it. Eventually we may not even own the genes in our bodies. This is creepy stuff.

    My overactive imagination visualizes patents on influenza strains. And then pharma companies will charge you for vaccinations and they will also charge you if you "get" their strain of the flu without being vaccinated because you are "stealing" and spreading their "property". Go ahead, laugh! It doesn't seem too farfetched to me. In a world where companies are able engineer a food crop which will not produce viable seeds for the next season's planting, forcing farmers to buy new seed every planting season, I don't put anything beyond possibility. Oh, yes, and in some places in the world, it has been made illegal to save planting seeds. Welcome to the capitalist mindset, determined to find ways of charging for air and water.

    Pleasant dreams.

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