Craig Venter, who is no stranger to advocating stronger and stronger IP laws -- especially in the area of "synthetic life"
-- apparently learned recently how those laws can reach ridiculous levels. In a recent presentation, he noted that his team had encoded a James Joyce quote in the DNA of the "synthetic life" he's been trying to create. However, the James Joyce estate was not amused and sent him a cease-and-desist
. Venter notes that he felt that it was fair use to include a quote. The quote was really short:
“To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.”
To claim that this is infringement seems pretty ridiculous. What's unclear from the article, though, is whether or not Venter fought this or just accepted it and agreed to take the quote out. This isn't the first time that the Joyce estate has done stuff like this, including an attempt to stifle
a biography by use of a copyright claim. In that case, the estate finally learned that they had no claim when they actually had to pay up
to settle the case.