Thursday, May 03, 2007

There's a 0.14725836998765432174185296373-percent chance I own that number

Can AACS LA claim to own a 30-digit number?

My recollection of copyright law (from Bitzer's Comm. Law class, mind you) says no. I'm using the same deductive reasoning that you can't copyright the phone book because it's just an alphabetized list.

You can copyright a phone book if you order it in some creative, unique way.

Then isn't a randomized number at least similar to an alphabetized list? It's random, so it's unique, I suppose. But if you used randomization software, well, I guess computers come up with random numbers in different ways, but as this dude points out, AACS LA chose the number so it would be special in no way.

From the blog:
While it’s obvious why the creator of a movie or a song might deserve some special claim over the use of their creation, it’s hard to see why anyone should be able to pick a number at random and unilaterally declare ownership of it. There is nothing creative about this number — indeed, it was chosen by a method designed to ensure that the resulting number was in no way special. It’s just a number they picked out of a hat. And now they own it?

As if that’s not weird enough, there are actually millions of other numbers (other keys used in AACS) that AACS LA claims to own, and we don’t know what they are. When I wrote the thirty-digit number that appears above, I carefully avoided writing the real 09F9 number, so as to avoid the possibility of mind-bending lawsuits over integer ownership. But there is still a nonzero probability that AACS LA thinks it owns the number I wrote.
So post on, Digg users, and fear nota little less the threat of a lawsuit.

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