A Fantastic Protest Against The Faulted Copyright System

Damien Riehl, a musician, a lawyer, a coder, along with his colleague Noah Rubin have a project called All The Music which is based on the creation of an “application to generate by brute force all mathematically possible melodies and write them to MIDI files.”

Basically the duo created and then copyrighted a database of every single melody possible to create. Then they made all these melodies available to everyone.

This is perhaps the most specific and complicated part of the world of protest music there is.

“We’ve seen a flaw in the current copyright laws, described above, and we’d like that flaw to be remedied — to help songwriters. And since the current copyright laws result in uncertainty, we’d like our work to help increase certainty, allowing songwriters to make more music (with less fear of frivolous lawsuits).”

See more about the project here: http://allthemusic.info

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One thought on “A Fantastic Protest Against The Faulted Copyright System”

  1. Some interesting ideas here. It’s hard to imagine in mattering in any legal defense whether a given two bars of melody are included in this database or not. But going ahead with the gimmick does raise awareness of a particular line of argument against this type of lawsuit.

    In the case of George Harrison & the Chiffons, there is a lot more similarity than just the few notes of melody. You listen to the two songs, and it can’t be a coincidence. Nevertheless, there are novels you encounter where the similarities in the storylines and characters are too great to be coincidental, and in those cases, for some reason, it’s widely understood that copyright infringement suits simply don’t work.

    I like the analogy Riehl makes to visual art; however, he concludes that such an exercise isn’t practical in that setting, which I don’t think is right. You can slice up images with any pixel resolution & granularity of color rendition just like you can slice up wavelengths of sound into musical notes. The key difference isn’t what’s feasible but where the lawsuits are happening.

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