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Judge Rules Pi-Based Music Is Non-Copyrightable

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-don't-go-stealing-from-feigenbaum dept.

Music 183

New submitter AnalogDiehard writes "A copyright case alleging infringement of a 1992 Lars Erickson song 'The Pi Symphony' by Michael John Blake's 'What Pi Sounds Like' was dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon. Both pieces were conceived by assigning numbers to musical notes, then deriving a melody based on the pattern defined by a finite set of numbers in Pi. Judge Simon wrote in his legal opinion, intentionally announced on Pi day (3/14), that 'Pi is a non-copyrightable fact.' While the Judge did not invalidate the Erickson copyright, he ruled that 'Mr. Erickson may not use his copyright to stop others from employing this particular pattern of musical notes.' The judge further ruled that the two pieces were not sufficiently similar — for instance, its harmonies, structure and cadence are all different."

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PI song (1)

Rixel (131146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441861)

I can now see that it will be inevitable that several new songs will come out that sample PI.

Re:PI song (-1)

GmExtremacy (2579091) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442047)

I'm a big ol' buttnude.

Fuckin' use Gamemaker.

Re:PI song (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442759)

I'm waiting on one based on Nyquist.

Re:PI song (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443187)

Pi is for losers. Music based on Euler's number, now those are symphonies. Oh, and if I catch one of you pirating thieves trying to steal my Euler tune, I'm gonna get all kinds of ACTA on your asses.

Now... (5, Insightful)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441899)

If we could just get this same judge, who obviously has some common sense and a critical eye for detail, to rule on a few other copyright cases, we might be able to right this severely listing ship....

Re:Now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39441955)

The ship fell over and sank a long time ago. Fortunately, it had a few emergency oxygen masks. Hopefully they won't run out any time soon.

Re:Now... (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442105)

>> this severely listing ship....

Arrrr, and a pirate ship she be, me hearties!

Re:Now... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442211)

Severely listing? The ship's done spun over completely by now.

Re:Now... (2)

tunapez (1161697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442675)

The ship has hit the reef, taking on water and is on fire....but everything's fine.

Re:Now... (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442985)

Of course it is, the captain is standing on shore watching it go.

Re:Now... (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443093)

Common sense?! You tell me, dude: without a government-granted monopoly, what incentive do researchers and musicians have, for going to the trouble of discovering digits of pi?

Sensible (4, Interesting)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441903)

I don't want to fire in the old cliché of "OMG A SENSIBLE COURT DECISION", but it's nice to see common sense employed.

Re:Sensible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442355)

It is indeed an excellent ruling, as I own the patent on making music using Pi.

Re:Sensible (3, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442665)

While I take that comment in jest. I think legally if someone Patented making music based on Pi, you may be able sue the holders for Patent infringement. As it is a different type of legal standard.
The Copyright failed because while the two pieces used the same process they had different output (in essence a different song). However the patent you own rights to the process.

Re:Sensible (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442723)

The copyright argument failed because "PI is a non copyrightable fact", and it doesn't matter how it's expressed, whether in spoken word, written Arabic numerals, or musical notes.

Re:Sensible (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39443045)

Judge Michael H. Simon :
12.03.14 - Restate my assumptions.
1> The harmonies of the two pieces differed significantly.
2> The structure of the two pieces differed significantly.
3> The cadence of the two pieces differed significantly.
4> Pi is a non-copyrightable fact.
therefore
Michael John Blake is an asshole wasting precious court time trying to leech any attention and money he can from anyone using the value Pi.

Re:Sensible (1, Troll)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443209)

Indeed. I think if we want have these strict copyright laws, there should be equally harsh penalties when someone attempts to copyright the uncopyrightable or claim copyright on something they do not have rights. How about a fine ten thousand times the size of the damages demanded and immediate and permanent disbarment of the complaint's lawyer(s).

All music is aligned numbers (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39441935)

I don't see how this should be any different? I remember seeing fractal music a while back.. that shouldn't be copyrightable either? Im curious.

Re:All music is aligned numbers (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442051)

The question is, how much of your own creativity is in the selection of the number sequence you base your music on.
Pi is a quite canonical choice, so there is not much creativity in it. Creativity can be put into the rules that convert pi into an actual music sheet, and this still can be copyrightable. But just because you used pi, you cannot claim copyright infringment against someone else who used pi too.

Should have used a patent... (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442597)

His problem was that he used copyright law to protect his work. He should have patented a method of assigning values to various musical notations and using a mathematical generator based on the value of Pi to construct a melody. That way, given the crazy patent system, his work would be protected because anybody else would violate his patent.

Re:Should have used a patent... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442873)

Except that would fail due to the plethora of prior art. It's not a novel process.

Re:Should have used a patent... (0, Flamebait)

xerxesVII (707232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443097)

Except that prior art doesn't seem to mean shit these days thanks to first to file.

Re:All music is aligned numbers (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442845)

The question is, how much of your own creativity is in the selection of the number sequence you base your music on. Pi is a quite canonical choice, so there is not much creativity in it. Creativity can be put into the rules that convert pi into an actual music sheet, and this still can be copyrightable. But just because you used pi, you cannot claim copyright infringment against someone else who used pi too.

The judge could have said "He can have your 3.141592654 and eat it too"

Re:All music is aligned numbers (4, Insightful)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442179)

The point isn't that it's not copyright-able, but that this particular work, based on the same theme as another work, did not infringe on the earlier work. This is just common sense, and good application of copyright law (if there can be such a thing). For instance, if I arrange Beethoven's 5th for brass quintet, and you come by a year later and also arrange Beethoven's 5th for brass quintet, you haven't infringed my copyright. If, however, you transcribe my arrangement and turn it into a work for strings, you have (arguably) infringed my copyright. Something like this may be hard to prove, but it makes perfect sense to musicians.

The point is that the "idea" or "form" of a work may not be copyrighted. But the actual work can. The combination of notes, rhythms, harmonies, tone colors, etc. all come together form the copyrighted work. If I take the same harmonic and rhythmic structure of the Pi Symphony and simply change the "melody" (if you can call it that) to e rather than pi, then I may still have infringed on Erickson's copyright. That's another grey area. I would at least consider it borrowing. Then again, there are entire genres entirely defined by their harmonic and rhythmic structure (e.g. blues), so it would be a hard argument to win.

Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39441941)

Any IP lawyer know if this could have aaaaany possible effects on software patents?

In the little pretend world in my head, this seems like a basis for attacking terrible software patents.

Re:Patents (5, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441995)

PI not IP

Re:Patents (4, Funny)

MountainLogic (92466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442135)

So PI is french for IP or more correctly la propriété intellectuelle

Re:Patents (5, Funny)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442369)

Yeah but the French do everything backwards. Their word for "states" is "etats".

Re:Patents (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442065)

Any IP lawyer know if this could have aaaaany possible effects on software patents?

In the little pretend world in my head, this seems like a basis for attacking terrible software patents.

Copyright, not patents.

Liberate your brain from IP.

Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (4, Insightful)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441981)

Of course pi-based music is copyrightable. TFA even states explicitly: "That doesn't mean Erickson's copyright is invalid." Both Erickson and Blake retain copyright over their respective songs, which (other than both being based off pi) are distinct. What is not copyrightable is the idea of basing a song off pi. The title should have read "Judge Rules Pi Is Non-Copyrightable."

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (2)

ffflala (793437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442331)

Thank you. IOW:

Actual scenario: Pi-based music is copyrightable.

Slashdot title: "Judge rules Pi-based music is not copyrightable."

Trying to copyright the idea of writing music based on Pi is like trying to copyright the idea of writing a blues song about a woman.

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (2)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442429)

Exactly. Of course, if Erickson had patented that idea, success would have been pretty much guaranteed. :-/

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (3, Interesting)

ffflala (793437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443143)

Ha. That reminds me --wish I could source this story, but I haven't been able to find the original source since I came across it a few years ago. The gist was this:

-phone dial tones are actually two-note chords, and every phone number can be represented musically
-a couple of (Australian, IIRC) composers went through all the permutations of all the chords of phone-number length
-they then tried to enforce their copyright, by claiming every time a number was dialed it was a performance of their copyrighted song.

It was a beautifully subversive idea. While I'm glad I don't have to pay royalties to dial a number, part of me wishes they had gotten rich for coming up with the idea.

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442543)

Hey, I own the copyright on a blues song about a woman - but I also specified the 1,4,5 chord progression, so my copyright only covers about 99% of all blues songs.

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442787)

And the nice part is that you can issue DMCA takedowns and haul people into court even in the 1% remaining, because there's no meaningful penalty against it and the odds are certainly in your favor.

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." (Kill them all. For the Lord knoweth them that are His.)

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442895)

"You can copyright a melody, but not a chord progression." - Blind Lemon Rabinowitz

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442361)

You can also interpret the headline slightly differently and get the correct information. Instead of reading it as "Judge rules that this music, based on pi, is not copyrightable", it should be "Judge rules that the idea of "pi-based music" is not copyrightable". We're so used to headlines leaving out words, especially articles (a, the, etc.), that people tend to fill them in automatically. In this case, though, there isn't a dropped article.

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442961)

Judge Rules general method of deriving your music from Pi Is Non-Copyrightable.

Re:Slahdot gets it wrong as usual (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443173)

There's actually a slippery slope argument in here. With all the words in the English language, there are a finite number of combinations you can arrange them to create a book. Using Pi as the root of your music, there are a (smaller) finite number of ways you can transpose those digits into a melody, harmony, and rhythm. If I roll 3 six-sided dice, there are a (smaller yet) finite number of possible outcomes for the sum of those dice (16 to be exact).

At what point does something become copyrightable? How many possible combinations of things must there be before the work can be declared creative enough to be worthy of copyright? In terms of music, what if you wrote a program which generated every possible sequence of 8-note sequences within an octave irrespective of key or rhythm (about 36 million, first note is always the same), and published it and got a copyright on it. Could you then sue any musician who published a melody which had an identical 8-note sequence? Since you'd gotten a copyright on every 8-note sequence, that'd effectively make it illegal for anyone to write a melody comprised of 8 notes within an octave.

Copyright infringement? (5, Funny)

Rudisaurus (675580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39441987)

The entire dispute was completely irrational!

Re:Copyright infringement? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442087)

The entire dispute was completely irrational!

I wish 'i' had thought of that.

Re:Copyright infringement? (5, Funny)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442195)

The entire dispute was completely irrational!

I wish 'i' had thought of that.

I'm sure there are complex reasons you didn't.

Re:Copyright infringement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442289)

I have a whole set that contains the reasons but nothing else that I can't decide without an axiom I'm having trouble choosing.

Re:Copyright infringement? (0)

SilentStaid (1474575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442403)

Naturally these are all a Range of funny jokes, but I think that it's time that we took a real break from them before we get them at too regular an interval.

Re:Copyright infringement? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442291)

The entire dispute was completely irrational!

I wish 'i' had thought of that.

Well, that wouldn't have transcended the original statement. But here's an "e" for Effort.

If anyone has a -1 to spare, we can take this thread absolutely nowhere.

Re:Copyright infringement? (1)

bossk538 (1682744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442439)

I find it transcendental myself.

Nothing is Copyrightable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442019)

Since you can essentially find any pattern you'd like in pi somewhere, doesn't this mean that all music (which must somewhere be encoded into pi) is non copyrightable? Take that, RIAA.

Re:Nothing is Copyrightable? (2)

sudonymous (2585501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442103)

Actually, I see this as a direct response to that claim (and you beat me to the punch by a minute or two).

Basically, it doesn't work that way: by claiming that music derived from pi isn't copyrightable, it creates a distinction between music that isn't, and music that is, derived from pi. Even though the melody could be found somewhere in pi, it wasn't derived from pi; it was the result of an artist's creativity.

Similarly, numbers aren't copyrightable, but software is (in most countries) and software is just a big number, so what gives? The reasoning is the same: you could get that number from a giant random number generator, but the person who developed the software didn't, and that's why they're able to copyright it.

Re:Nothing is Copyrightable? (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442589)

That is a valid point, and probably the intent of the ruling, but riddle me this:

If I derive from pi an existing song, can that song be copyrighted?

Or, would we then consider the derivation from pi to be a creative work derivative of the original song, and not simply a fact based on pi?

This ruling would seem to say no to both, because the mapping from pi is fact and not creative itself. That would mean that this does, theoretically, make all music uncopyrightable, but perhaps with the additional leg work of showing the relation to pi.

Re:Nothing is Copyrightable? (1)

Reeznarch (2465314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442353)

Most music has 2 copyrights on it at least: One on the song itself (Notes and lyrics, kind of like source code), and one on the recording of that song (something like the executable compiled from that code.) The RIAA is only concerned with enforcing the recording copyrights, as their profit comes from selling recorded music. I believe, given a short string of samples drawn at random from any recorded music, it would be extremely unlikely to find a correlation within PI, with the chances decreasing exponentially as the string grows longer.

Re:Nothing is Copyrightable? (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443281)

It's not that music based on Pi isn't copyrightable, but that the concept of Pi based music isn't copyrightable. (for that you'd need a patent)

Blocked a move that nobody else thought of? (1)

sudonymous (2585501) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442035)

If music made from pi is copyrightable, and pi is a natural number which existed before any of the stuff that the RIAA peddles, then you could go arbitrarily deep into the digits of pi and find just about any sequence of notes ever composed, and claim that just about any melody existed in pi before it was recorded and sold.

Since copyright infringement can be found on the basis of a recognizable sequence of only a few notes, the potential ramifications of copyrighting pi would be immense.

Bye, bye, copyrighted Pi (5, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442045)

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That number used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those lawyers dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But March 14th made me shiver
With every digit I'd deliver
Bad news in the courtroom
I couldn't take one more suit
I can't remember if I cried
When I read the judges opines
But something touched me deep inside

The day the copyright died.

Bye, bye to copyrighted Pi
Drove my Chevy to the courthouse where the lawyers would fight
But them good ole boys were thinking common sense was all right
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Re:Bye, bye, copyrighted Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442801)

Singin' this'll be the day that I Pi
This'll be the day that I Pi

Re:Bye, bye, copyrighted Pi (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443017)

Singin' this'll be e to the i Pi.

This'll be e to the i Pi.

Re:Bye, bye, copyrighted Pi (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443167)

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That number used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those lawyers dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But March 14th made me shiver
With every digit I'd deliver
Bad news in the courtroom
I couldn't take one more suit
I can't remember if I cried
When I read the words the judge opined
But something touched me deep inside

The day the copyright died.

Bye, bye to copyrighted Pi
Drove my Chevy to the courthouse where the lawyers would fight
But them good ole boys were thinking common sense was all right
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

I copied it (made a slight edit)!! Whatcha gonna do about it?

What this is all about (0)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442085)

The point here is that EVERY file is basically nothing more than a huge bignum, and the question is whether numbers (as huge as they may be) are copyrightable or not.

Re:What this is all about (3, Interesting)

rayharris (1571543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442321)

A book, a song, a program, a widget, hell YOU, can all be represented by a large enough number.

The point is whether there's enough "original creativity" in developing that bignum to warrant protection. Some things should be protected, some should not. We can argue all day about what should be protected, how long that protection should last and what the punishment for violating those protections should be. My answers, even as both a patent and copyright holder, are less, less, and less.

But to argue that simply because something can be represented as just a number means it shouldn't be protected is ridiculous.

Re:What this is all about (0)

cpghost (719344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442415)

Why would that be ridiculous? It all depends on the interpretation of said number. And who said that a number has only one possible interpretation? What is a, say, MP3 file for one person, could be interpreted as white noise (and thus a having zero-creativity value) when rendered as an image by another person, for example. Why would that particular number be protected, regardless of its interpretation?

copyrights on this are like copyrights on Bach (2)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442089)

Because the choice of where to start has infinite possibility and how to assign the digits is a creative choice, it makes sense to allow copyrights on pi-based. The judge correctly limited his ruling. I would treat any such copyrights as a performance of public domain works.

Judge Rules Pi-Based Music Is Non-Copyrightable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442123)

So it has come to this.

Interesting finding.... (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442131)

I wonder if the court is willing to decide at what point creativity is said to occur. If I reduce "Yesterday" to a function of the night sky, would it succumb?

Barely even music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442203)

Now if they had only based it off of tau instead, they both would have independently produced the William Tell Overture.

"cover" songs too (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442207)

like if somebody records Bach or some other older music that is open and non-copyrightable then when someone records an album for sale and it contains classics of long dead artists then they should not expect any copyrights to it since they did not actually create anything they just recorded someone else's creation

Infinity (1, Insightful)

Hellsbells (231588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442209)

Considering that pi represented as a decimal number is infinitely long, it would eventually contain the encoding for every song in existence.

Re:Infinity (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442309)

Not every infinitely long random number contains every possible pattern. Consider an infinitely long sequence of digits. Now drop all '1's from the sequence. You still have an infinitely long series of random digits, in that knowing previous digits doesn't help you predict future digits. However, this infinite random sequence does not contain every possible pattern.

Whether this applies to pi or not, I have no idea.

Re:Infinity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442423)

You could just as well drop all the 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9's from the sequence. You end up with an inifinitely long series of random digits, that just all happen to be one or zero, which is mathematically equivalent to any other set of infinitely random numbers...

Re:Infinity (2)

qwe4rty (2599703) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442747)

I don't think your analogy works the way you think it does. When you drop all the 1's from the sequence, you are limiting in scope (for lack of a better term) the subset of possible sequences so that they no longer have 1 in them. This doesn't prove the impossibility of containing every possible pattern when you similarly apply the same condition (ie, every pattern that doesn't contain a 1). Because Pi is irrational, my intuition tells me it would contain the encoding for every song.

Re:Infinity (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443163)

When you drop all the 1's from the sequence, you are limiting in scope (for lack of a better term) the subset of possible sequences so that they no longer have 1 in them.

Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. This proves that random sequences don't necessarily contain all finite sequences.

This doesn't prove the impossibility of containing every possible pattern when you similarly apply the same condition (ie, every pattern that doesn't contain a 1).

Why would you do that? The point is that there exists at least one infinite random sequence that does not contain at least one finite sequence. The fact that there are other finite sequences that are in the infinite random sequence is irrelevant.

Because Pi is irrational, my intuition tells me it would contain the encoding for every song.

My example proves your intuition wrong. It doesn't prove that pi fails to contain the encoding for every song. But it does prove that irrationality is not sufficient to support that claim.

Re:Infinity (1)

Hellsbells (231588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442813)

If you drop all '1's from a random sequence, aren't you just moving to a numeric system based on 9 symbols instead of 10?

You can still encode every song in existence using this sequence, you'd just have to change the encoding method.

You could do something like removing every '1', which was preceded by an '8' in the sequence, but then its not a random sequence any more, because we've just added a regular pattern to it.

Re:Infinity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39443329)

No, you are moving to a sequence in base 10 that has no 1s in it. There is a difference.

Re:Infinity (1)

daniel_i_l (1655579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442897)

Not every infinitely long random number contains every possible pattern. Consider an infinitely long sequence of digits. Now drop all '1's from the sequence. You still have an infinitely long series of random digits, in that knowing previous digits doesn't help you predict future digits. However, this infinite random sequence does not contain every possible pattern.

Whether this applies to pi or not, I have no idea.

The correct formulation of "every possible pattern" is that given an infinite sequence of letters (or digits) from an alphabet A, where every letter is chosen uniformly, the probability that a given pattern of finite length will appear somewhere is 1.

So there're two problems with your example. First of all, after removing the '1's, the digits in the resulting sequence aren't uniformly distributed. Secondly, just because the probability of a pattern appearing is one, that doesn't necessarily mean that the pattern will appear. For example, it's possible that the random sequence consists of only one digit. Such a sequence clearly doesn't contain every pattern. But the probability of generating such a sequence is zero. Similarly, it's certainly possible that the infinite sequence doesn't contain any ones, but the probability of that happening is zero.

Re:Infinity (2)

teslar (706653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443227)

The correct formulation of "every possible pattern" is that given an infinite sequence of letters (or digits) from an alphabet A, where every letter is chosen uniformly, the probability that a given pattern of finite length will appear somewhere is 1.

Probably worth adding that the distribution of digits in pi appears not to be significantly different from the uniform distribution [wolfram.com] .

Re:Infinity (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443233)

First of all, after removing the '1's, the digits in the resulting sequence aren't uniformly distributed

Sure they are. There's a 1 in 9 chance that the next digit will be 'n', for every digit except 1.

Secondly, just because the probability of a pattern appearing is one, that doesn't necessarily mean that the pattern will appear. For example, it's possible that the random sequence consists of only one digit

I did specify an infinitely long sequence.

Similarly, it's certainly possible that the infinite sequence doesn't contain any ones, but the probability of that happening is zero.

There are uncountably many irrational numbers. The chance of at least one of them having no '1' digits is 1. The chance of us picking that irrational number at random is 0.

Re:Infinity (5, Informative)

FrangoAssado (561740) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442581)

Considering that pi represented as a decimal number is infinitely long, it would eventually contain the encoding for every song in existence.

Actually, that does not necessarily follow.

It's not known whether pi contains every finite-length sequence in its decimal expansion (although most people believe it to be true). In fact, our knowledge is even worse than that (from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ):

It is for instance unknown whether sqrt(2), pi, ln(2) or e is normal (but all of them are strongly conjectured to be normal, because of some empirical evidence). It is not even known whether all digits occur infinitely often in the decimal expansions of those constants.

Here's some more discussion about that: http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/96632/do-the-digits-of-pi-contain-every-possible-finite-length-digit-sequence [stackexchange.com]

Re:Infinity (1)

emorning (2465220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442847)

Maybe that's true, and maybe is not, but suppose I write a program that searches pi for existing material, then can I use that material without violating copyright?

Discuss....

Re:Infinity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39443089)

Why the hell is this modded insightful?
It makes the implicit claim that every infinite decimal sequence is disjunctive. [wikipedia.org]
That's just false. And no one knows whether or not pi specifically is a disjunctive sequence.

Entitlement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442287)

So this means everyone really is entitled to their own piece of the Pi.

Now for step 2... (1)

firewrought (36952) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442297)

Doesn't PI contain all finite sequences as substrings? Show the judge that--under this note-assignment scheme--every possible song appears somewhere in PI. And every possible movie, picture, software or other digital artifact also occurs on PI. Everything's a derivative of PI!!

Re:Now for step 2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442609)

Doesn't PI contain all finite sequences as substrings?

This is an open problem. No one knows.

Should have patented it (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442303)

A patent for creating music from numbers... using a computer.

Illegal Primes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442319)

Isn't the issue basically the same as Illegal Primes? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_Primes).
I wonder if this does affect those kind of problems (IANAL).

That's ok (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442389)

I still own the copyright on any works based on sqrt(2), phi, e, and my favorite i, 'The Imaginary Symphony'.

Silence (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442395)

And yet 433 [wikipedia.org] is copyrighted. [cnn.com]

Nitpick Here (1)

bossk538 (1682744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442413)

The author of the TFA seems unaware that not all musical compositions are "songs"; the Pi Symphony being a case in point.

the songs could even sound exactly the same... (1)

ffflala (793437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442509)

...and, as long as each artist created the work entirely independently, both would still be copyrightable.

It's an interesting theoretical distinction between patents and copyright. Two artists could create exactly the same song, in terms of key, tempo, rhythm, melody, chord structure, tambre, etc. As long as each artists did so independently of the other, both songs would be properly copyrightable by the author.

In practice this doesn't happen; at least I haven't heard about a real example. When one finds substantial similarities in two works, they look to prove to a sufficient legal standard that a later song borrowed from an earlier one. If one can show exposure to the earlier work, that's usually enough to prevail. For example, George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" was so close to Ronnie Mack's "He's So Fine", and it was pretty easy to show that Harrison certainly must have heard the Mack song before.

Just about all music... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442531)

Just about all music is based on math, 1-4-5 is a very common one
and probably exists in 80% of all (and I do mean all) music.

Should have used base 12 not 10 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442549)

They really should have calculated pi in base 12 not 10. In one octave of western music, there are 12 notes. It would be a much fuller piece of music with the use of the sharps or flats.

Is PI Normal? (2, Interesting)

tehniobium (1042240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442583)

This means that is has just become VERY important for mathematicians to figure out whether PI is normal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_number)
(TL;DR version: a normal number is one in which every sequence of digits occurs)

You see, if every sequence occurs in PI, this actually means that no sequence is copyrightable, abolishing copyright right away :)

Re:Is PI Normal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39443327)

Sorry, but you drooling idiots thinking this is somehow the end of copyright are wrong as usual. The judge didn't say that it was not copyrightable just because the sequence was found in PI. He said it was not copyrightable because it was not a creative work.

meh (1)

Diabolus777 (663144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442691)

Should be judged as unlistenable too. Sometimes some novelty just tries too hard

As you can find every number somewhere in pi (1)

allo (1728082) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442745)

and you can represent every file as a number, you can now abandon all copyright on digital files.

this does not apply for stuff like real art, because there is no finite representation of an image on real paper. so you cannot find all the information contained in the image in pi, so its still copyrightable.

What's the point? (2)

Jedi1USA (145452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442779)

Everyone knows music based on Tau is better.

Pi != IP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39442903)

n/t

Captcha: caffein

Crap! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39442921)

So my romantic comedy/alien invasion musical based on Euler's number can just be copied?

And there goes my 36 part interpretive dance western series based on DeVicci's tesseract constant.

Re:Crap! (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443245)

there goes my 36 part interpretive dance western series based on DeVicci's tesseract constant.

Sounds like a perfect Summer Glau vehicle, did you contact her agent to see if she is interested?

Ruling not logically sound (1)

emorning (2465220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443087)

This statement from the judge was used as an axiom for making his judgment...

the transcription of pi to music is a non-copyrightable idea. The resulting pattern of notes is an expression that merges with the non-copyrightable idea of putting pi to music: assigning digits to musical notes and playing those notes in the sequence of pi is an idea that can only be expressed in a finite number of ways.

However, I doubt that the statement "assigning digits to musical notes and playing those notes in the sequence of pi is an idea that can only be expressed in a finite number of ways" is true. Certainly, the judge cannot prove that statement. Therefore I think his ruling is not logically sound.

For instance, I could take any sufficiently long sequence of digits in pi and come up with a mapping of those digits to notes to produce the song "Beat It". A corollary: the legal system in the US is complete shit.

the following has nothing to do with copyright (1)

vonshavingcream (2291296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443213)

but .. shouldn't a song based on pi, be a single instrument with a single stave of music. There are not harmonizing numbers when dealing with math. why should a musical representation of such have more than a single line of music?

Just deserts (1)

Gravitron 5000 (1621683) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443217)

So it seems Lars can't have his pie and eat it too.

What About Lateralus? (1)

organgtool (966989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39443241)

So does this mean that Lateralus by Tool is not covered by copyright because the cadence of the vocals and the time signature are based on the Fibonacci sequence?
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