[chuck-users] just play it...

Hans Aberg haberg at math.su.se
Tue Apr 28 04:22:46 EDT 2009

On 27 Apr 2009, at 22:59, Kassen wrote:

> I take that back. Apparently they transcribed the thing to music
> notation so they could get copyright. That would possibly also cover
> your version.
> http://musicthing.blogspot.com/2005/05/tiny-music-makers-pt-3-thx-sound.html
> Now I'd really like to see what something like this would look like in
> traditional musical notation. I don't really understand how musical
> notation makes it more copyrightable than code but I'd still like to
> see it anyway.

At the time, it may have made a difference, but according to the WIPO  
copyright treaty, article 4 <http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/wct/trtdocs_wo033.html 
   Computer programs are protected as literary works within the  
meaning of Article 2 of the Berne Convention. Such protection applies  
to computer programs, whatever may be the mode or form of their  

These are treaties, meaning that contracting parties agree to adjust  
local law, but are not laws themselves. So local legislation applies,  
and may violate these treaties.

The Beastie Boys flute sample case*) suggests that it is human work  
that is creatively unique that is what is copyrighted. When the DOS  
specs were released, one could make clones and ensure surviving any  
lawsuit by hiring "virgin programmers", i.e., those that had  
absolutely no experience of writing such an OS, letting them writing a  
new one from the specs alone. The information in the specs are not  
copyrighted, just as math formulas are not (and algorithms can only be  
patented in some countries) - the code of the OS is (and the document  
with the specs).

 From the description above, the original piece had same random  
variables in it making it distinctively different form playing to  
playing. The new one was written to reproduce one of those playings.  
So the human creativity of the final piece consists in part of  
choosing one from a selection of random pieces.

Anyway, if one writes wholly new code, which in addition may be  
different from the original pieces, then it seems me that is a new  
piece from the copyright point of view. In addition, one might write a  
computer program containing some variables, and the sound-alike is  
only when choosing some specific variables - that seems me would also  
be a new literary work, as the WIPO treaty puts it.

Just my guesses. Contact your local copyright law expert lawyer for  
details. :-)


*) There were a few notes played in the sample, for which the flute  
performer was granted copyright, but not the composer (same person as  
the flutist), because there were too few notes, which any composer  
could have produced.

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