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Copyright Claimed on Telephone Tones 495

Posted by michael
from the ode-to-dtmf dept.
awful writes: "Two composers in Australia have copyrighted over 100,000,000,000 phone tone dialing sequences. They state in the article that they are lampooning copyright laws that protect big business rather than artists. Their website has more info and explains how they did it. You can check your number and make sure it hasn't been copyrighted by these guys. They have already recieved one offer of money - from a guy who wanted to purchase the copyright to his number so he could stop direct marketing firms from calling him." Somehow I don't think the inventors of DTMF envisioned this. Update: 10/04 14:11 GMT by M : There's a US mirror available.
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Copyright Claimed on Telephone Tones

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  • The real question (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:57PM (#2386648)
    The real question is whether or not this tactic will hold up in court. If you check the article you see It blatently admits [eggforge.com] that the phone company had been using the tones [eggforge.net] previous to their copyrights.

    What's more is, even if the phone numbers weren't already being used, the mere fact that the phone company has a pre-existing document [eggforge.net] specifying the format and access-method for all telephones negates any further attempts to copyright.

    Besides, if 2600 can lose the MPAA case -- I'm sure a judge will throw this right out the window.

    btw. I love Eggplants! [eggforge.net]

    --ECA Rebel Bastard!
  • by aka-ed (459608) <robt,public&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:35PM (#2386795) Homepage Journal
    He's right. For instance, in movie copyright cases, the hard part is not proving points of similarity; it's proving that the studio or creators of a film's screenplay were exposed to the earlier work.

    Besides, if you were to sing the entire works of the Beatles to a friend over the phone, that's not a public performance so no licensing is required. When you dial a touch-tone number, you may be "performing" the work, but your audience is zero...again, not a public performance.

  • Re:Oh so close! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by laymil (14940) <laymil@obsolescence.net> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:36PM (#2386798) Homepage
    problem being...if you write down the numbers and give them to someone, it could be considered a violation of copyright. trust me, i thought this through. writing it down could be seen as a way of copying the 'melody' in a musical notation, which would be an illegal copy...a stretch, but...yeah.
  • by Omerna (241397) <clbrewer@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:48PM (#2386836) Homepage
    Music doesn't only consist of tones. It also consists of durations of notes. Mozart wouldn't be mozart if you changed whole notes to eigth notes, quarters to halves, and so on. So, unless they've also patented every single note duration/ pitch variation possibility (not likely) there are at LEAST 100,000,000,000 ^ 7 melodies. Not including dotted notes, that's ^ 14. I think.
  • by Omerna (241397) <clbrewer@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:51PM (#2386845) Homepage
    Forgot to say how to get around this. Simply vary the length of the tones when you dial. Easy.
  • by SoftwareJanitor (15983) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @11:18PM (#2386903)
    Score 2 interesting? And it isn't even right!?! The box Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold was a "Blue Box", and they didn't invent it, they just designed one particular implementation of it. Others such as John Draper (Capn Crunch) knew about it before them.

  • by zavyman (32136) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @12:29AM (#2387046)
    Numbers themselves cannot be copyrighted. Try sending in a copyright application for a number and watch it get rejected.

    *However* suppose that a song is written and copyrighted. All well and good. Now it is coverted into an MP3. The MP3 is a directly derived work, and is still copyrighted similarly. If a number is a derived from that MP3 or WAV file, it is still directly derived from the original piece, and thus copyrighted just the same.

    Copyrights are always about works themselves (of protected classes, of course) and their derivations. If some text/song/art/whatever is put into another form directly representing the original, the copyright works just the same.

    Note: I am not a lawyer nor copyright expert. But this sure seems logical to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, however.

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