Examples of copyrightable expression in the life sciences and pharmacy industries.


  • Texts related to life science and pharmacy education, products, and services, whether electronic or print, typically contain considerably more factual information and raw data than texts associated with humanist fields like literature and music. While copyright does not protect factual information and data, the original verbal and visual expression that presents and analyzes this non-copyrightable information is protectable expression. One may freely copy factual information from medical and pharmacy textbooks and journals, but not the original expression in which it is presented. Copyright protects even informally recorded lab reports to the extent they contain a modicum of original expression, perhaps hand drawings, etc., beyond the factual information they contain.   

  • Under U.S. copyright law, computer programs are deemed copyrightable expression, despite the fact that their registered underlying source code has no literary or aesthetic value, and may effect purely utilitarian outcomes, which copyright does not protect. Those advocating for copyright protection for DNA sequences claim human intervention altering the sequences of four chemical building blocks of a DNA molecule constitutes original “authorship”. But DNA sequences are even less perceptible and meaningful to humans than computer source code, and one creates altered sequences for purely useful reasons. This is an evolving area of copyright law, but does patent appear a more appropriate form of IP protection for human-adjusted DNA sequences?