Michael Crichton is one of my favorite authors. I've read many of his books, and you'd be surprised how many of them have been made into movies. Now, he's speaking out on copyright in an op-ed article published March 19th in the New York Times.
This Essay Breaks the Law by MICHAEL CRICHTON Published: March 19, 2006
- The Earth revolves around the Sun.
- The speed of light is a constant.
- Apples fall to earth because of gravity.
- Elevated blood sugar is linked to diabetes.
- Elevated uric acid is linked to gout.
- Elevated homocysteine is linked to heart disease.
- Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins.
ACTUALLY, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient's test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent.
All this may sound absurd, but it is the heart of a case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In 1986 researchers filed a patent application for a method of testing the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. They went one step further and asked for a patent on the basic biological relationship between homocysteine and vitamin deficiency. A patent was granted that covered both the test and the scientific fact. Eventually, a company called Metabolite took over the license for the patent.
You can read the rest of the article at The New York Times website. Meantime, maybe I should copyright the fact that the sky is blue.