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This week's IP news round-up

14 February 2005

Happy Valentine’s Day! And welcome to this week’s very lovely intellectual property round-up. We kick off this week in Norway, home of fjords, smorgasbords and a new digital copyright law.

The law, which is currently in proposal stage, would make it illegal for Norwegian music fans to transfer their CD collections on to MP3 players, even for personal use. According to the Associated Press, the proposal has been praised by the music and film industries but, unsurprisingly, it has been attacked by academics and pro-technology activists. Gisle Hannemyr, of the University of Oslo's Department of Informatics, said "We are going to be a nation of lawbreakers if this law is passed in its current form.”

In practical terms, the law would make it illegal to break the anti-copying protection that is frequently included on new CDs and DVDs, unless a disc was being copied on to another disc for personal use. Users who broke the protection in order to copy onto another format (like an MP3 player) would be breaking the law. If passed by the Norwegian parliament, the law could be in force as early as July 1st. Read all about it.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the Americans are trying to get their collective heads around the idea of patenting humans. That’s right – humans. A New York scientist has spent seven years trying to win a patent on a laboratory-conceived creature that is part human and part animal. The creature, who currently exists only in the mind of the scientist, was considered by a court to be ‘too human’ to be patented.

Curiously, according to the Washington Post, the scientist is actually pleased with the decision. ‘Inventor, Stuart Newman of New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y. An opponent of patents on living things, he had no intention of making the creatures. His goal was to set a legal precedent that would keep others from profiting from any similar "inventions."’

The whole story is very interesting – but the most interesting part of all is the fact that a cross between a goat and a sheep is called a ‘geep’. Who knew?

Until next week.

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