Should IP Trump Defendants’ Right to Review Evidence?

business_ethics_highlights_2Intellectual property (IP) rights are a hot topic in ethics and political philosophy. IP is interestingly different from other forms of property insofar as it, unlike other forms of property, isn’t diminished in use value by use. Thus, the right being protected by IP rights is less a use right than a commercial exploitation right. Here, the commercial exploitation right is being invoked to preclude defendants and their attorneys from discovering and cross-examining how Cybergenetics’ TrueAllele software reaches its conclusions about DNA matches. This could be used in classroom environment to provoke a discussion about use and abuse of IP rights, as well as how commercial rights interact with political and human rights. >>>

LINK: Secret source code pronounces you guilty as charged (by David Kravets for ArsTechnica)

The results from a Pennsylvania company’s TrueAllele DNA testing software have been used in roughly 200 criminal cases, from California to Florida, helping put murderers and rapists in prison.

Criminal defense lawyers, however, want to know whether it’s junk science.

Defense attorneys have routinely asked, and have been denied, access to examine the software’s 170,000 lines of source code in a bid to challenge the authenticity of its conclusions. The courts generally have agreed with Cybergenetics, the company behind TrueAllele, that an independent examination of the code is unwarranted, that the code is a proprietary trade secret, and disclosing it could destroy the company financially.

What do you think?


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