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51 Hastings Law Journal 909 (2000)


This article considers how certain ideas underlying the tort of appropriation may enable use more effectively to deal with the problems presented by a case such Moore v. Regents of the University of California which dealt with property rights of Moore’s spleen cells. First, the author explores how the tort of appropriation of identity opens up new approaches to inform and perhaps supplement principles of property law as a guide to managing genetic information or other materials that seem intimately bound up with a particular human subject. Secondly, the author analyzes how the various opinions produced by the Supreme Court implicitly elaborate a powerful and problematic relation between the spheres of private life, science and the market, such that the science is granted special status and power relative to the other two – or rather, how the Supreme Court effectively exploits the social status of science to expand the reach of the market into the private sphere of control over the body. Finally, the author considers how the Appellate Court’s discussion of appropriation of identity suggests possible new avenues to pursue regarding the legal recognition and management of both individual and group identity.