Copyright lawyers can Gödel

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 from 1:30 – 2:15pm in Burnside


"This compression algorithm is of course very inefficient, at least when applied to a small collection of documents. But if you were to apply it to a larger collection, say, all the music ever recorded and all movies ever made, some gains may be realized...


Supporters of the *IAA and other IP-arians have been steadily increasing the length, breadth, depth, and scope of copyright coverage to the increasing annoyance of many.

Some day they may go too far.

Or maybe they already have.

Consider the following axioms:

  • Copyright on a work extends to digital representations of that work (e.g. audio to CDs)
  • Copyright on a digital work extends to compressed forms (e.g. MP3s)
  • Distribution of a work that includes a significant portion of another, copyrighted work (e.g. sampling) requires permission of the copyright holder.

The IP industry would be reluctant to part with any of these, but if they (and the court system) were rational they would be well advised to jettison at least one of them; combined they give us all we’d need to shut down Hollywood, the music industry, and any other content-distributors (including the whole internet) provided only we can find a judge with a strong enough math background.

Speaking experience