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Copyright Claimed on Telephone Tones 495

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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  • by brood ( 126904 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:46PM (#2386601) Homepage
    Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to
    You give me something I can hold on to
    I know you'll think I'm like the others before
    Who saw your name and number on the wall
    Jenny I've got your number
    I need to make you mine
    Jenny don't change your number
    8 6 7-5 3 0 9
    • That was a good tune... Tommy Tutone, circa 1980.

      How many people must have tried to dial that number when the song came out?

      • Re:prior art? :) (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:22PM (#2386752)
        Actually, it was a real problem according to VH1's "One Hit Wonders" show. Not only did the real Jenny get bombarded with calls (yes there was a real Jenny who gave her number to one of the band, and it was 867-5309), but everyone else in every area code as well.

        This absolute waste of bits known as pop culture trivia was brought to you by the letters L, O, S, E and R.
      • Reminds me of the number from the Hitchhiker's Guide.

        Apparently, an older couple had the phone number. IIRC, they didn't mind the calls either.
      • 537-0869 (Score:2, Funny)

        My phone number in 1980 when that song was big was an anagram of Jenny's number. I always wondered if I would get a call from some dyslexic rock fan.

    • I can give you one better than 867-5309. There was a song by Sugarloaf called "Don't Call Us We'll Call You" (1975) in which they actually play the recorded, long distance, touchtone, telephone number of a record executive who had rejected them earlier. IIRC, the executive had to change his number shortly after the song became popular.
  • Rotary (Score:5, Funny)

    by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:47PM (#2386602)
    Well, now I'll have to get a rotary cell phone so I can call home without paying royalties!
  • by Soko ( 17987 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:49PM (#2386609) Homepage
    Ooo!Ooo! I know what these guys can do for us - sue Hillary Rosen or any RIAA member when they have to call each other in order to make thier little cabal plans. Could you imagine the scowl on her *cough*lovely*cough* face?

  • I just copyrighted all the possible combinations of pulse dialing tones too... ahhahahahhah... you all owe me 0.05 cents per use... I'm rich!! I'm rich!!! ahaahhahahha

    • by AntiNorm ( 155641 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:23PM (#2386754)
      I just copyrighted all the possible combinations of pulse dialing tones too... ahhahahahhah... you all owe me 0.05 cents per use... I'm rich!! I'm rich!!! ahaahhahahha

      Just copyright all pulses, period. That way, for example, if someone causes a 500 Hz tone to be emitted, you'd be owed .05c * (500 Hz) = 25 cents per second. Not too bad if you ask me.
      • Re:And pulse too... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Medieval ( 41719 )
        Not to be a real stick in the mud, but pulse dialing doesn't use tones, it uses (very fast) flash hooks. (Also, at 5 cents per pulse, and at 500hz, if you consider a sine wave cycle a "pulse", thats not $0.25 per second, thats $25.00 per second.)
  • GENIUS! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BiggestPOS ( 139071 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:50PM (#2386612) Homepage
    These guys are brilliant. But what about the timing, or spacing between the "notes"? If I dial in a different rhythm is it the same?
  • by plaisted ( 449711 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:50PM (#2386614) Homepage
    Assume that phone numbers have at most 11 digits (ie 1-910-xxx-xxxx). Each digit has 10 different values. So there are 10^11, or 100,000,000,000 possible 10 digit phone numbers. Does that number look familiar? If the story is correct, they have tried to copyright every single possible 11 digit phone number
    • Remember the good old days when 910 was 919 and the phone company ads had that beach music sounding tune "Operator, give me nine one nine, I need a Carolina voice on the end of the line"?
    • They'd only have to copyright twenty tones, not 1 million or whatever, since each tone has two tones making it up, and each digit is based on those combinations. Although there are also the pound, star, and a-d tones as well (although the a-d are really only used on PBX's) but those are irrelevant.
    • International calls from the US have up to 15 digits. 011 (Int'l Direct Dial) - xx (Country Code) - yyy (City/Area/Locale Code) 123-4567 (Number).
    • It doesn't cover the 'international' form of the number, so people can dial me from abroad royalty free!

      eg: 00 44 1234 123456 (which is 14 digits)

      These people are evil.

  • by beretboy ( 221801 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:50PM (#2386615)
    I forsee the following dialouge:

    Me: hello?

    Tele-solicitor: Hello would you like to buy-

    Me: You have just infringed on national copyright hangup now or I will seize all your assets!

    Tele-solicitor: *click*

    Ah finally a good use for copyright :-)

  • Magnus-Opus

    This very large series of algorithmic compositions originate from the early 1970's (our diatonic period) and were inspired by the pitch class set pieces of Webern and the stochastic works of Xenakis.

    The Magnus-Opus series is based upon pairings of eight notes used to create sixteen different diads or two note chords. These tone pairs are used to create melody 'modules' of a standard twelve note length. Additional compositions may be obtained by joining melodies together, or by adding melody fragments to standard twelve note melodies.

    Our method was to assign each of the sixteen tone pairs to an alpha-numeric pattern so that each letter or digit corresponded to a pitch pair. This sequence when expressed through the operation of a simple algorithmic generator produces some 10,000,000,000 melodies (together with a more or less infinite number of additional compositions produced by the addition of melody modules or fragments thereof).

    It is not without reason, therefore, that we claim to be the world's most prolific composers, hence Magnus-Opus.

    It has, more recently, come to our attention that many (certainly not all) of these compositions correspond to the tonal sequences transmitted in contemporary telecommunication, making us without doubt, the world's most popular composers.

    Warning: All of the melodies contained within the Magnus-Opus series are protected by copyright. You may inadvertently be in breach of international copyright law by using a telecommunications device (telephone, mobile telephone, modem and other internet devices) to transmit and perform one of the Magnus-Opus melody series.

    In order to ascertain if you are in breach of international copyright law you may test your number against our composition database by clicking here.

  • IMHO, if they have the cash to buy some good lawyers, they'll probably be able to pull this off. What's sad is that big companies have gotten away with worse. (In fact, someone owns the patent on the Peanut butter and Jelly sandwich!) Maybe this will knock some sense into big companies copyrighting and patenting the lamest things (Hey, there's a patent on using a laser pointer to excersize cats too!)
  • by Gorobei ( 127755 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:53PM (#2386629)
    Copyright is concerned with COPYING work. It does not apply if someone else independently (usually defined as "was not exposed to your work") recreates the thing in question.

    So, even if they have a phone number in their melody database, you don't infringe if you dial that number, because you created the melody independently.

    • Quote:
      So, even if they have a phone number in their melody database, you don't infringe if you dial that number, because you created the melody independently.

      I think you're right.

      Crap! There goes my evil little plan to copyright any sequence of four numbers, where each number is between zero and 255, when separated by periods. ;-)

    • IANAL, but as I understand it a large portion of musical copyright laws prohibit reproduction of the work for profit without permission of the composer or without giving royalties to the composer. Furthermore, copyright laws were written in such a way that whoever copyrights the work in question first wins regardless of whether they created it first or not (pending convincing evidence to the contrary). With this interpretation, you could charge people in various ways:

      - Charge any (non-profit) corporation when dialing their phones for work related purposes.

      - Collect royalties from phone service providers that use the songs for routing in their system.

      - Licence the "songs" to telephone manufacturers and receive money for every telephone ever made.

      Still, they'll have a pretty hard case trying to get any money out of this. Likewise, anyone who shares a genetic pattern that has been "copyrighted" by another company should sue that company's ass off for copyright infringment on your genetic material.

      ahhh, symbolic gestures...

    • actually, you are wrong. this is why covers of songs violate copyright law (if you cover them without permision). if i record myself playing a previously writen song, and sell the recording, i am violating copyright law. copyright law was created before recordings were easy to copy, so saying that you are only violating the law if you are distributing copies of the actuall recording is foolish.

      recordings of songs arent copyrighted, its the sequence of notes that is being copyrighted. just like they copyrighted a sequence of notes (phone numbers)

  • 312-2333 (Score:3, Funny)

    by dghcasp ( 459766 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:54PM (#2386632)
    The canonical phone song: "Mary had a li-tle lamb." Is that prior art or public domain?

    Good thing I'm not six years old anymore and no longer so easilly amused; I'd hate to have to retain a lawyer just to determine if I could do that; especially on a six-year-old's allowance.

    • by dirtyhippie ( 259852 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:41PM (#2386819) Homepage
      That's 321-2333, not 312-2333. Unfortunately, if you want to play the whole melody on the phone, there is no way to accurately represent the 5th (the 12th and 13th notes in the melody), but hitting 8 comes close since you hear (the 852Hz component of the 8 is heard as a fifth below the second, which is at 1336Hz - see the DTMF tutorial for where I got this info). Of course, its pointless for someone to waste their valuable time sitting there and trying to figure this stuff out like I just spent the last 20 minutes.

      3 2 1 2 3 3 3
      Mary had a little lamb
      2 2 2
      Little lamb
      3 8 8
      Little lamb
      3 2 1 2 3 3 3
      Mary had a little lamb
      3 2 2 3 2 1 1
      Whose fleece was white as snow, and

      3 2 1 2 3 3 3
      Everywhere that Mary went
      2 2 2
      Mary went
      3 8 8
      Mary went
      3 2 1 2 3 3 3
      Everywhere that Mary went
      3 2 2 3 2 1 8 1
      Her lamb was sure to go-o-o

      "Fsck you dirty hippie!"
    • Re:312-2333 (Score:3, Funny)

      by e7 ( 117450 )
      Nope. The harmonies are totally different from how "Mary ..." is traditionally performed.

      (I've listened to the above DTMF sequence several times now, and the lady on the other end obviously doesn't understand how the slashdot effect could carry over into her legacy communications system.)

  • by laymil ( 14940 ) <> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:54PM (#2386634) Homepage
    ok, little note for some prior posters:
    copyright and patent are two completely different things, with two different purposes. prior art doesn't apply to copyright. that i've gotten that out of the way...
    i'm not sure if i agree with what these gentlemen have done. i don't believe that such things deserve to be 'owned' by anyone. no matter the reasoning behind their actions, and even if they are attempting to protect people from corporations and 'BIG BROTHER' i find myself disagreeing with their methods. also, i fear the day that they are threatened and bought out by a [insert entity here]that doesn't have their moral fabric. in such a case, beware.
    • Oh so close! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by donutello ( 88309 )
      You started in the right direction by pointing out that copyright and patent law were not the same.

      However, you failed to complete your analysis. Of course, having a copyright on those tones doesn't prevent any normal usage of DTMF. Why that is, I'll leave as an exercise to the reader.
      • Re:Oh so close! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by laymil ( 14940 )
        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.
      • I'm guessing that, in addition to whatever patents exist for DTMF, the use of those particular frequencies, which were carefully selected to be harmonically unrelated so as to avoid accidentally generating the wrong tone by heterodyning, probably already is covered by one or more copyrights belonging to Bell Labs or some other fragment of what was once known as *the* phone company.
  • by Seemlar ( 90176 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:57PM (#2386647)
    So, who wants to help me encode all these 100,000,000,000 possible ringtones and put them on Morpheus?
    • That's pretty interesting. All you have to do is run a (really really long) statistical process on bits, until you hit MS office.

      You don't need to keep them on disk, just serialize them and have a program that will produce one given the correct integer input.

      Then I'll (independently) figure out which one exactly resembles MS office X.Y, and publish my results.

      So long as MS's lawyers don't read this message, we'll be scott free!

  • what about... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Polo ( 30659 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:58PM (#2386649) Homepage
    what about sampling?

    could I sample portions of seven notes of a "melody"?

  • by rcw-home ( 122017 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @09:59PM (#2386655)
    If a million monkeys type out the source code to MS Office, Microsoft can't sue. Likewise, if you happen to create a series of dual-tone meta frequency notes using a touch-tone phone using non-copyrighted material (a phone book, your memory, etc), then that's an independant creation. Now if a telemarketer overheard you dialing, and recorded it (made a copy), then you might have something.

    IANAL (and I know the whole point was to be funny anyway).

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If a million monkeys type out the source code to MS Office, Microsoft can't sue.

      The problem is that you'll need 256^{size of MS Office in bytes} monkeys to get MS Office. Phone numbers only required 10^11 monkeys, so it was possible to simulate the process with a computer.
    • by charon_on_acheron ( 519983 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:27PM (#2386770) Homepage
      Actually, phone books are copyrighted. You can't legally copy lists of names and phone numbers from the phone book to make your own phone book for sale. Same for maps, which I always thought was the stupidest thing. A basic outline of the US is copyrighted. It is just a shape. A really bumpy shape. But if it is in a child's coloring book, it is copyrighted.
      • Here's a link to the Feist Publications vs. Rural Telephone Service Co [] 1991 US Supreme Court ruling on phone book copyrightability. Note they mention originality as a constitutional requirement for copyright protection - an outline of the US is only copyrightable if it has an original element to it (otherwise it doesn't promote the arts and sciences []).
      • Map makers used to put in little false details here and there to make sure their maps weren't being copied. A street here or there that didn't exist in real life.
        I always thought that was fiendishly clever.
        I wonder if they still do it - I've always suspected that Montana doesn't really exist...
        Jim in Tokyo
        • by lazytiger ( 170873 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @11:40PM (#2386949)
          I can attest for sure, as a cartographer, that ALL map companies do in fact still produce inaccuracies, and quite intentionally. If you actually went to the trouble of comparing street maps to an orthorectified image (a.k.a., of the same area, you would see that the map practically looks made up. Map companies, if they went to the trouble of checking, could easily tell if one of their maps had been copied. By the way, if you're looking for accurate maps to copy, USGS topo maps are far more accurate than any other maps available. They are made from the aforementioned orthophotos. And they are all in the public domain. They're not always up to date, however.
          • Where else but slashdot does a person get to make a post like mine and have someone step through the crowd and say "I'm a cartographer..."
            Sometimes I really like slashdot.
            Thanks -
            Jim in Tokyo (IANAC)
          • The office where you can get those from is in Denver, CO. Just get yourself in the neighborhood of 6th Avenue and Kipling. You absolutely cannot miss it. I went down one day just for the fun of it and picked up a complete set of (very nice) maps of Mars for $9. The joy of publicly-funded research results actually being available to the public!
        • A verifiable example.. Use your favorite street maping program. Look where I-205 crosses the Columbia River at Portland Oregon. Compare it to where the bridge really is. Bombs guided by GPS would miss the bridge by about 1/8 mile. Most maps have it East of it's real location. It's fun to cross it with a maping GPS.
        • Mapquest does. The directions to our new office yesterday, printed from Mapquest, got us fairly well lost. The last to turns were onto streets that apparently don't exist within a mile or two of our destination. I guess us getting lost in a rental van that was acting like it was going to crap out at any time in the middle of fairly busy streets populated by hideously incompentent drivers and 2-ton dump trucks is a small price to pay to keep people from printing out copyrighted maps from Mapquest.
      • You can't legally copy lists of names and phone numbers from the phone book to make your own phone book for sale. Same for maps, which I always thought was the stupidest thing. A basic outline of the US is copyrighted. It is just a shape. A really bumpy shape. But if it is in a child's coloring book, it is copyrighted.

        The shape of the USA is not Copyrighted, the representation of it in a particular map can be Copyrighted. If I spend millions of dollars accurately mapping the cost of the USA, I want protection from you just ripping off all that survey work. Because anyone else's map of the USA will (hopefully) look the same, I will add artefacts ("watermarks") so that I can prove that a particular map was copied from my work.


      • In Feist Publication v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340, 111 S. Ct. 1282, 113 L. Ed. 2d 358 (1991), for example, the Supreme Court held that the arrangement of names and numbers in the white pages of a telephone book was not copyrightable as simply listing the names in alphabetical order was not even remotely creative.

        "Notwithstanding a valid copyright, a subsequent compiler remains free
        to use the facts contained in another's publication to aid in preparing
        a competing work, so long as the competing work does not feature the
        same selection and arrangement."
        • This ruling led to the rise of "wannabee" phone directories (which we've had in California for over a decade). The compilers don't copy the yellow pages ads, or any data processing such as separation of business and residence numbers, but they can legally reprint the raw listings.

          (What's pathetic is that the wannabee phone books come out a few months after the telco's, and with a prettier cover, so people actually discard the official phone book ... and yellow pages advertisers are forced to buy their ads twice, one in each publication. Sad.)
      • This is well-settled. No copyright is possible.

        The Supreme Court held in Feist [] that the white pages do not meet the burden of originality, and therefore cannot be protected by Copyright.
    • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:30PM (#2386778) Homepage
      If a million monkeys type out the source code to MS Office.

      Isn't that how it was written in the first place anyway?
    • A million monkeys could type out all of Microsoft's source code?

      Ha! So that would explain [insert MS product name here] !

      {BTW, all possible software-product permutations of this joke are hereby copyrighted, so this IS on-topic.}
  • by Diashi ( 313855 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:03PM (#2386674) Homepage
    I kind of doubt this is what the idea of copy righting was for. Copyrights along with patents were originally made to promote scientific research. Protecting one's intellectual property is the whole idea behind copy righting.

    Some schmuck who starts to copy right tone sequences is totally not getting the point. He's not promoting scientific research, or protecting his intellectual property. He's just trying to make a quick $, through a loophole in the laws.

    Its as if suddendly the sequence of phone digits has been invented by this guy and he has to have the copy right to your tone. This whole thing is as rediculous as the guy who claimed to own all the land outside of the solar system, and thinks he's somehow going to get away with that. If your armies/people are using/conquered something, its theirs, and no one elses.
    • by smack_attack ( 171144 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:07PM (#2386690) Homepage
      STEP 1: Place hand 3 inches above head and 3 inches in front of head.
      STEP 2: Briskly move hand from previous position to 3 inches above head and 6 inches behind head.
    • by stubear ( 130454 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:41PM (#2386813)
      Actually US copyright law was intended for more than scientific research:

      "US Constitution, Article I, Section 8

      To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries"

      Our forefathers felt so strongly about protecting scientific research and useful arts that they granted this right before the right to free speech. That took an amendment to institute.

      I agree, however, this is not what copyright was intended for and I doubt this would hold up in court. Obtaining a copyright is easy. Protecting it is more difficult.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Registering or claiming copyright protection and actually winning an infringement claim are two very different things.

    Copyright (at least in the United States) only applies to ``original works of authorship,'' not ``[w]orks consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship.''

    Perhaps the authors could receive protection for the entire compilation, but not for the telephone numbers taken individually.

    Many Slashdot readers would do well to read the U.S. Copyright Office's Circular 1 [], Copyright Basics, from which the above quotations were taken.

  • 867-5309 (Score:2, Funny)

    by Arkoth ( 228492 )
    Tommy Tutone be warned. Prepare to be sued by some rich guy with a lawyer waiting to
    serve him that owns the patent to the phone number 867-5309 that you illegally sang
    back in the 70s.

    You will be sued, resistance is futile!
  • The thing is, there are limits to copyright. The shorter a work, the harder to defend its copyright in court. For instance, it is impossible to copyright a word, phrase, note, or chord. Short poems, like haiku, push the lower bounds, and have quite weak protection: only a very blatant direct copy might infringe on them.

    Obviously, these are not legal (or at least not legally relevant) copyrights, and couldn't be enforced.

    I know it's all in fun, but I think it would be more satisfying to mock the system using things that would stand up in court.
  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:15PM (#2386721)
    Well this means that every online yellow/white pages directory is now in violation of the DMCA.

    And while we're at it, we'll have to dispose of our phonebooks since they are now vulnerable to lawsuits of patent infringement.

    I wouldn't be surprised if someone were to patent IP addresses.

  • But every good computer geek knows that just number strings are non-copyright-able and non-trademark-able (yes, i know neither of those are actually words)

    Everyone on this site should remember this fact when Intel changed their chip naming scheme from numbers, 8086, 286, 486 etc. to Pentium and Pentium Pro etc. The reason for this was that the numbers could be neither copyrighted nor trademarked and other manufacturers were able to call their chips 486 as well thus leading to a loss of brand value for intel.

    • music, not number (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hagbard5235 ( 152810 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:24PM (#2386755)
      Ah... but they have not in fact copyrighted the
      numbers. They have copyrighted the musical
      representation of these numbers as DTMF tones.

      Additionally, like hell numbers aren't copyrightable.
      What do you think an mp3 file is? It's a very
      large number. In fact EVERYTHING digital is a
      number. So if you can't copyright a number, how
      then is software, source code, digital music,
      digital video copyrightable?
      • Well, then in that case, it becomes a trivial matter to play the "notes" of the musical representation with different note durations, and different pauses.

        As it is a musical thing, beeeeeep bop buuup is distinctly different from beep bop buuuuup. Thus negating any tangible use of this copyright.

        As for the digital non-copyright-ability of anything since it all boils down to a stream of 0s and 1s. Well, I prefer to think of that as perfectly correct, but any judge you ask will tell you differently. It IS the music, or the source or video representation of those numbers being copyrighted. In this case, as I said earlier, playing the phone number at different rates is trivial (which is the copyright-able representation), so they must be trying to copyright the number. This would be akin to copyrighting the number 2. Or, more valuably, the set of mersenne primes. You can't do it.

        • I think they did it as a joke. In fact, I read the article, and I *know* they did it as a joke. Don't worry, you're not alone... most /.ers seem to have technical, moral, or other objections to stuff people do for fun. That's the beauty of it. =)
      • 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.
    • But every good computer geek knows that just number strings are non-copyright-able and non-trademark-able

      They're not copyrighting the numbers per se, but the melody the numbers generate when dialed by a DTMF device. I can't copyright 1,3,15,16,18,... on a piano, but I can copyright the music played by the 1st, 3rd, 15th, 16th, 18th, ... keys on a piano in that sequence (does timing apply? I really don't know...)

  • ...I'll be sure to dial a few extra digits after the number. :)

  • by Omerna ( 241397 ) <> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:41PM (#2386814) Homepage
    If a million monkeys type out the source code to MS Office, Microsoft can't sue. Likewise, if you happen to create a series of dual-tone meta frequency notes using a touch-tone phone using non-copyrighted material (a phone book, your memory, etc), then that's an independant creation. Now if a telemarketer overheard you dialing, and recorded it (made a copy), then you might have something.

    According to this, I think, if I check to see if my number or somebody I know's number is in there, and it is, and then I use it I'll have gotten help from copyrighted material to dial that number. I'm infringing their copyright every time I dial a number after I see it there. Q.E.D that website is a trap to make you infringe their copyright! Don't be fooled!
  • by Omerna ( 241397 ) <> 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:55PM (#2386855)
    People don't seem to have noticed that finicky little disclaimer under the score of their telephone number:
    "Notation is an approximation only of the real pitch."

    The Equitempered Scale (or Equal Tempered Scale, depending on who you talk to) has pretty much been the standard for musical notes for the last 200 years, although the standard for A4 was only ratified as 440Hz in 1939.

    The frequencies used for DTMF tones don't exactly match notes on the Equitempered Scale. I have tabulated the differences here:

    Matching against the Equitempered scale:
    (Based on t.html#c2)
    DTMF_tone Closest_Note %-error
    697Hz F5, 698.46Hz +0.2095%
    770Hz G5, 783.99Hz +1.8169%
    852Hz G5#, 830.61Hz -2.5106%
    941Hz A5#, 932.33Hz -0.9214%
    1209Hz D6, 1174.6Hz -2.8453%
    1336Hz E6, 1318.5Hz -1.3099%
    1477Hz F6#, 1480.0Hz +0.2031%
    1633Hz G6#, 1661.2Hz +1.7269%

    As you can see, there are some considerable differences from a "purist" point of view.

    This begs the question: Have the Magnus-Opus musicians actually copyrighted DTMF tone sequences, or just an approximation of them?

    Another question worth asking: Even if the copyright holds-up, is it the end-users who are liable for infringement, or the Telco's who are on-selling the numbers as their own property?

  • by drodver ( 410899 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:56PM (#2386861)
    Whenever one of these crazy copyright/patent stories comes up I am reminded of the story Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros [].
  • These are the standard DTMF (Dual Tone Modulated Frequency) frequencies are:

    1209Hz 1336Hz 1477Hz 1633Hz
    697Hz 1 2 3 A (Flash override)
    770Hz 4 5 6 B (Flash)
    852Hz 7 8 9 C (Immediate)
    941Hz * zero # D (Priority)

    It's interesting to note that A-D, * and # where not copyrighted, although they are used in telecommunication repeaters.
  • Seems the foggy historical section of my brain recalls a story ("legend") of Steve and Steve creating a machine called a "Black Box" that created the dual tones, and could circumvent long distance charges. They should hold the patent, for articulating these tone a unique way - and that was about 30 years ago?
    • 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.

  • These guys are not a huge multinational corporation buying off Congress. Nowadays, the only way to have your copyright upheld is being one.

    Just look at this article... []

  • I have a feeling they may just be printing out a musical script of each sequence of numbers entered and then saying its copyrighted.

    I entered characters.. they still said it was found and coprighted, but didn't display any notes in the score..
  • by Jerf ( 17166 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @12:05AM (#2386993) Journal
    I award this article the Worst Slashdot Lawyers Ever award. Not a single legally valid opinion is ranked above 3. Several utterly uninformed opinions are ranked at 4 or 5. Half the replies miss the point. Absolutely amazingly horrible. A record high noise/signal ratio. Wow.

    Please for Gnu's sake don't whip off a letter to your Congresscritter based on this article; most posters have already looked stupid enough.

    (Oh, in case you're wondering, the subject of this article is a funny-chortle, but no more. It has all the legal force of a Taliban edict in this country.)
  • _phone_test.shtml []

    The Magnus-Opus domain has been slashdotted to the extent that it is impossible to access their "test-your-phone-number" flash movie. It is mirrored above.
  • How phone tones work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by image ( 13487 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @01:36AM (#2387200) Homepage
    I wasn't sure what chords the phone tones actually were, so I went to over to howstuffworks [] and took a look. On page 2 [] of this article [] on telephones, it has a great section on the tones.

    In particular, I learned that "the dial tone sound is simply a combination of 350 hertz tone and a 440 hertz tone," and "if the number is busy, you hear a busy signal that is made up of a 480 hertz and a 620 hertz tone, with a cycle of 1/2 second on and 1/2 second off" and there is a great chart showing the tone for each button on the keypad. For example, the tone for "1" is a combination of a 1209 Hz tone and a 697 Hz tone.

    A little more research turned up this cool frequency to note converter [] and where I discovered that 1209 Hz is equivalent to D6 plus 50 cents, and 697 is F5 minus 4 cents. So basically the keypad one is an out of tune inversion of the D minor chord. (music majors feel free to Score: -1, Moronic)

    Of course, if you were into phreaking [] then you'd already know all that.

  • Where do they find morons to design websites that DON'T WORK without flash? Dipshits.
  • they just emit a sad beep no matter what button you press.
  • P. Diddy. (Score:3, Funny)

    by viper21 ( 16860 ) <scott.iqfoundry@com> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:04PM (#2389094) Homepage
    You just wait until P. Diddy starts sampling these tunes.

    I bet He buys J-Lo's new number.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.