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Post-Myriad Genetics Copyright of Synthetic Biology and Living Media
Oklahoma Journal of Law & Technology (2014)
  • Michael D. Murray

This Article addresses copyright as a viable form of intellectual property protection for living, organic creations of science and art. The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.[1] narrowed patent-eligible protection over living components of humans or other organisms. Synthetic biologists are expected to look with renewed focus on copyright law for the intellectual property protection of biological creations. The contribution of this Article is to reveal that the same issues are raised with regard to the copyrightability of the works of synthetic biology as are raised by pictorial, graphic, and sculptural arts that use and produce living media as their works. The current contours of copyrightability present four identical questions that are particularly relevant to and difficult to answer in the context of science and art that purports to create works of living media:

  • Is living media copyrightable subject matter?

  • What is authorship (or who is an author) of living media?

  • What does it mean to create a fixed and tangible work of living media?

  • What constitutes an original creation of living media under the originality doctrines of merger and scenes a faire?

This Article will provide an analytical framework for rethinking the contours of copyright so as to answer these questions by comparing contemporary scientific methods of creation with artistic methods in order to determine the copyright narratives and metaphors of subject matter, authorship, creation, and originality that best address the concerns underlying these four questions and allow copyright protection over the works.

[1] Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2107 (Jun. 13, 2013) (isolated DNA sequences not patentable).

  • synthetic biology,
  • copyright,
  • biotechnology,
  • creation,
  • fixation,
  • living works,
  • living media
Publication Date
Summer June 6, 2014
Citation Information
Michael D. Murray. 2014. "Post-Myriad Genetics Copyright of Synthetic Biology and Living Media" 10 Okla. J.L. & Tech. 71 (2014), available at: