DNA Copyright in the Administrative State

53 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2017 Last revised: 29 May 2018

See all articles by Dan L. Burk

Dan L. Burk

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: October 31, 2017


For nearly three decades, academics have toyed with the question of copyright protection for recombinant DNA sequences. Recent interest in synthetic biology has prompted a resurgence of such dubious speculation. But current advocates of DNA copyright have gone further than academic conjecture, attempting to register nucleotide sequences with the United States Copyright Office. Not surprisingly, the Register of Copyrights refused the application, setting the stage for a possible appeal to federal court. This scenario raises the general administrative law question as to the degree of deference a court should give to a registration decision of the Copyright Office. The issue is surprisingly complex, and precedents are sparse. In this paper I take up the question of administrative deference as it applies to synthetic biology and other technologies that could be the subjects of questionable copyright registration.

Keywords: Chevron deference, DNA copyright, copyright registration, Skidmore deference, APA, synthetic biology, administrative law, intellectual property, copyright, judicial deference, standard of review

JEL Classification: K23, K41, L65, O31, O32, O33, O34, O38

Suggested Citation

Burk, Dan L., DNA Copyright in the Administrative State (October 31, 2017). UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 51, 2018; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2017-56. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3062915

Dan L. Burk (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

4500 Berkeley Place
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States
949-824-9325 (Phone)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics