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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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:06PM (#2386684)

    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.

  • by bIOHZRd ( 196012 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:10PM (#2386700) Homepage Journal
    From their Site...

    " Magnus-Opus

    You may be inadvertently performing one of the Magnus-Opus melody series each time you use your telecommunications device (telephone, mobile telephone, modem and other internet devices).

    In order to ascertain if you are in breach of international copyright law you may enter any alpha-numeric sequence you may be using via your telecommunications device in our dialogue box below. This will compare your number with our melody database. If your number should match one of our compositions the melody and opus number will be displayed. You should then complete a licence agreement as soon as possible. "

    Lol... this is too funny
  • 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.
  • by Sycophant ( 4279 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:31PM (#2386783) Homepage
    Actually, by dialling the number you are performing the work. That is a deffinate infrigement.

    Also, the fact that the timings are different when you actually dial it won't help you either. Recording artists have sucessfully attacked people using the same sequences of notes (which is silly because it is fairly finite).
  • 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 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!"
  • by rcw-home ( 122017 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @10:52PM (#2386848)
    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 []).
  • by Spiral Man ( 33998 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @11:23PM (#2386913) Homepage
    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)

  • 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.
  • by vAMP ( 102914 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @11:46PM (#2386955)
    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 aka-ed ( 459608 ) <> on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @11:46PM (#2386956) Homepage Journal
    Both this post, and the moderator, are wrong.

    Please read up [] before more nonproductive moderating and posting.
  • Re:And pulse too... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Medieval ( 41719 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @12:39AM (#2387070) Homepage
    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.)
  • by Caractacus Potts ( 74726 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @01:52AM (#2387242)
    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."
  • by sluggie ( 85265 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:25AM (#2387465)
    Why can't you see that this is a hoax? Is it really that difficult to find out?

    You can query that number finding thingie with everything. It will always print that the number is licensed, even if you just enter some letters...

    my 0.02
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @08:05AM (#2387685) Journal
    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 nick_burns ( 452798 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:22PM (#2389187)
    Given that there are at least 100billion combinations, and the weight of paper [] is about 1 pound per hundred sheets, we're talking about a billion pounds of paperwork filed, assuming one sheet per copyright. And according to CNN, the mass of the debris of the WTC is 2 billion pounds. So we're talking about the mass of one of the towers worth of paperwork. This obviously is a fraud and even if they were to start work printing paperwork at 1000 pages/minute, it would take 100million minutes, which is just over 190 years. So I think we're safe for now, at least until they get your phone number filed.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie