Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Mathematical Attack On Copyright

The OFF system is a way to circumvent copyright entirely. It does this by representing any copyright data as a series of meaningless numbers distributed over many computers. Each number does not appear in the original data, but when combined with other meaningless numbers will produce the original data. Weird, but true, and easily understandable once you read the introduction.

The interesting except:

Are these numbers copyrighted? Could they be stored on two separate computers? Would that break the law? What if they were never added together? Would their existence still break the law? What if I give you two other numbers? Again, and again…

It turns out these are not philosophical nor legal questions, but purely mathematical ones. There are two consistent ways to answer the above questions. One leads to the conclusion that “All numbers are already copyrighted.” The other leads to the conclusion that, “There exists encodings of copyrighted numbers that are NOT copyrighted.”

If the first conclusion is true, digital copyright is pointless. If the second is true digital copyright is meaningless.

No comments: