The value of a bit
February 16, 2007 9:20 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for blog posts / articles about someone who created an empty mp3 and another mp3 of copyrighted music but with the sound level at 0. The argument posed was that the files were binary equivalents, but one was still a copyright violation. Therefore, there is not only a digital value to a bit, but also a "color" or "flavor" to it.
posted by y0mbo to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This likely doesn't answer the question, but it may give you more to search on: the integer representing the bits of an mp3 is not a copyright violation, but the bits of an mp3 are. (See also the DeCSS haiku/translations.)
posted by aberrant at 10:29 PM on February 16, 2007

Reminds me of John Cage, but I can't find anything with regards to that and copyright.

Therefore, there is not only a digital value to a bit, but also a "color" or "flavor" to it.

A bit is either 0 or 1. Period.
posted by sanko at 10:57 PM on February 16, 2007

What is wrong with these people?
posted by effugas at 10:58 PM on February 16, 2007


There are a near-infinite number of ways an MP3 encoder can select bits that still sound exactly the same to the human ear, as there are a near-infinite number of ways air molecules can hit your eardrum evoking the same sound in your mind. We do not copyright bits or pressure waves, or else evasion of either would be as simple as a miniscule deviation. The concept of copyright is inherently against the abstract.

The Cage Trust is still ridiculous.
posted by effugas at 11:00 PM on February 16, 2007

This is the closest thing I could find. Even if it's not what you're looking for, it's pretty interesting.
Combine two MP3s, who owns the copyright?

Here's the summary from the page:

Monolith is a simple tool that takes two arbitrary binary files (called a Basis file and an Element file) and "munges" them together to produce a Mono binary file (with a .mono extension). Monolith can also reconstruct an Element file from a Basis file and a Mono file.

In most cases, the resulting Mono file will not be statistically related to either file. If you compare the Mono file to the Element file, the Mono file will contain none of the information present in the Element file. In other words, the Mono file by itself tells you nothing at all about the data in the Element file. Only when combined with the Basis file will the Mono file provide information about the Element file.

Monolith can be used for exploring the boundaries of digital copyright, and the rest of this website is devoted to such an exploration. The core questions: What happens when we use Monolith to munge copyrighted files? What is the copyright status of the resulting .mono file? These questions are considered in depth below.
posted by GregX3 at 9:31 AM on February 17, 2007

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