[Reader-list] Re: Phone tone sequence copyright

Arun Mehta arunmehtain at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 10 09:56:38 IST 2001

Hilarious story! Bravo, Helyer and Drummond! (Thanks for the pointer, Zaki!)
Copyright: your number's up

Thursday 4 October 2001
Tonal: Jon Drummond, left, and Nigel Helyer.

Listen up, they've got your number. Australian composers Nigel Helyer, aka 
Dr Sonique, and Jon Drummond have copyrighted 100,000,000,000 telephone 
tone sequences.
You might not know it but every time you dial a number, you play a short 
With the aid of a computer, Helyer and Drummond have notated the tones of 
every imaginable phone number combination and, in turn, claimed the 
melodies as their own. Next time you make a phone call, therefore, chances 
are you'll be in breach of international copyright law.
If business can claim ownership over the elemental building blocks of human 
life, the composers say it's only fitting that artists lay claim to the 
"DNA" of business and are paid for it.
"We're saying to (big business), 'Okay guys, the boot is on the other foot. 
If you really believe in copyright, you've got to pay'," Helyer says.

"I think Mr Howard will be high on the list. Universities. Lots of 
corporations. We'll go for it."
The composers say their Magnus-Opus is a playful way of lampooning 
copyright laws that protect big business rather than artists.
You can check your home, work, mobile, fax or modem number against their 
compositional database by logging on to www.magnus-opus.com.
If your number is matched, the melody will be played, the notes scored and 
a direction given to complete the licence agreement supplied online as soon 
as possible.
Helyer and Drummond, who've only just launched the website, say they've had 
one offer of payment already. "An American guy tired of direct sales people 
calling him has told us he'd like to purchase the copyright for his number 
so that he can stop them," Helyer says.
The website explains in greater detail how the composers went about their 
creation by throwing 16 tone pairs into an algorithmic generation to 
produce countless melodies.
"The whole telecommunications system is entirely musicalised," Helyer says.
•Magnus-Opuswill be installed at the Adelaide Festival of the Arts next year. "
Such a lovely piece, and in the spirit of the article, I had to violate 
copyright and cite it in its entirity!

It is said, in the French revolution, that one of the leaders looking out 
the window saw a mob rushing past. He ran out, saying, "There go my people. 
I better find out where they are headed, so I can lead them there." That is 
sensible behaviour as a "leader" in a revolution!

In my view, the law cannot lag seriously behind the way people vote with 
their feet. Copyright is nonsense when it is so blatantly being violated, 
and at least for 26 years now -- that's when the xerox machine came 
seriously into my life. Which of these music executives that sued Napster 
never xeroxed a newspaper article? Or faxed a report? Wasn't that equally a 
copyright violation? Or is audio, somewhat holier than print?

For that matter, neither can business lag seriously behind in adapting to 
technology, for there are fortunes to be won and lost here. The question 
really is:

in light of the world of Napster, does the conventional music business have 
a future? Of course it does, in nurturing and marketing talent. But no 
longer will that be as profitable as it used to be. And who knows? Soon 
there will be marketing agents specializing in pushing music through 
Morpheus -- people who are more sharing than the current crop of music 
companies. Maybe there are people who can nurture musical talent through 
the Net -- people kinder than the music industry. Can the music industry 
learn to live with the Internet?

I guess a similar question could be asked of telecom, radio, newspapers, 
books,... they all have to adapt to the new realities, be able to provide 
value of the kind that the Internet cannot, else watch their profits shrink.
At 01:16 PM 10/9/01, Zaki Ansari wrote:

>>Australian composers Nigel Helyer and Jon Drummond have copyrighted
>>100,000,000,000 telephone tone sequences (that make up most dialled
>Arun Mehta, B-69, Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi -- 110024, India. Phone 
>+91-11-6841172, 6849103.  http://www.radiophony.com mehta at vsnl.com

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