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I first read about using DNA as a storage device a few months back, DNA data storage: 100 million hours of HD video in every cup. This article amazed that the technology was already available to do this. A few months later I was reading about the Monsanto case in front of supreme court. These two things were swimming around in my head when the new policy concerning 6 strikes for downloading copyright protected content started to makes waves in the news.
I started wondering about a few of the legal ramifications of putting data on DNA. According to the most recent Monsanto cases companies can patent DNA. They have defended this protection vigorously at the expense of many farmers’ livelihoods so as to dissuade other farmers from using their genetically modified seeds. Monsanto’s tactics have also turned farmer against farmer as Monsanto uses its customers to spy on neighboring farmers in their pursuit of intellectual property protections.
Big Media has taken a similar tact in their pursuit of individuals who they feel have violated their copy rights. In many instances they have taken regular people to court for exorbitant amounts of money. Recently via there 6 strike agreements with broad band providers they have enlisted other companies to be their spies in the war against piracy.
Those two things led me to do some thought experiments on how legal protections for DNA storage could play out. Firstly if you take Monsanto as the example modified DNA is covered under patent protection. Secondly if that data happens to be music or a movie it is also covered under copyright protection. Could the combination of these two forms of protection give individuals more than enough legal support to cancel each other out? ie. What if mega uploads was using DNA based servers. If they stored a movie on their DNA a media company could claim copyright infringement. But megauploads could also claim patent protection for the DNA it created….
I am sure there are some legal beagles out there who could add some support to such an argument. But it will be interesting to see how big business reacts. I think DNA patent protection may have just met the straw that breaks the camel’s back.