Quick Bytes: speaking of the public domain…

This nugget from NYTimes.com, from an article on “cloning” redwood trees (see last sentence of this fragment, which seems to suggest that the default for tree DNA would be a patent…):

The plan is to create a collection of clones from at least 100 of the tallest and oldest redwood trees available for cloning and donate a set to whoever wants, and is able, to care for them. The Strybing Arboretum in San Francisco has agreed to take a set. The cloned trees will not be patented and will remain in the public domain.

While not technically a music post, I am continually fascinated by the challenge of maintaining a balance between fostering and stifling innovation through providing copyright and patent protections. The idea that a genetically modified seed could be patented (such as all the corn grown around us) leans toward a just use of a patent (in my opinion, but not so for famers in India), but to claim a patent on a tree just because a certain scientist is the first to decode the DNA (which may not be any more creative or innovative than putting a sample through an automated analysis) seems more like claiming a public domain tune is now under copyright because you’ve made a digital version…

Comment if you are so moved (not required).

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