To the Best of Our Knowledge

The Evolution of Copyright

Sunday, April 05, 2015

In the U.S., copyright originally lasted only 14 years. These days, creative works could be protected for as long as the author's alive, plus an additional 70 years. Cultural historian Siva Vaidhyanathan explains the evolution of copyright law, and how it's affected artists.


The Takeaway

The Electric Guitar Turns 75

Friday, August 10, 2012

Seventy-five years ago today, music was transformed forever. It was the day the Electro String Corporation awarded the first-ever electric guitar patent. Rudy Pensa, a guitar expert and the owner of Rudy’s Music in Manhattan, explores the history of the electric guitar and its evolution into modern culture.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Patenting the Human Body

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harriet Washington explains the “life patent” gold rush and why she thinks it will have harmful, and even lethal, consequences for public health. The United States Patent Office has granted at least 40,000 patents so far on genes controlling the most basic processes of human life. In Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover of Life Itself—and the Consequences for Your Health and Our Medical Future she examines the legal, ethical, and social bases for pharmaceutical companies’ position that such patents are necessary.

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The Takeaway

Are Profits Driving Medical Research?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

On April 12, 1955, Edward R. Murrow interviewed Dr. Jonas Salk on the CBS show, "See it Now." Salk’s polio vaccine had just been proven effective in preventing the disease. Murrow asked who owned the vaccine. "The people I would say," Salk answered. "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?" Medical research culture has changed dramatically since Salk's time. Had it been invented today, it seems likely that the polio vaccine would have been patented immediately, and that Salk would have worked for a pharmaceutical company, rather than a university.

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The Takeaway

Google Moves to Acquire Motorola's 17,000 Patents

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google is attempting to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings and — as part of the package — Motorola's 17,000 patents. Google’s CEO, Larry Page, explained the motivations in a blog post about the deal: "Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies."

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