One of the most interesting cases of recent times has finally came to a conclusion. The case revolved around the copyrights of ‘Pi’, the mathematical constant, and the music based upon it. It all started when Michael Blake composed a song based upon pi’s values in 2011. Against this, a suit was filed by Larks Erickson who claimed that he originally produced a Pi-based song back in 1992 and that Blake’s song would come under copyrights infringement. Now a judge has outruled such a preposterous claim.
“Pi is a non-copyrightable fact, and the transcription of pi to music is a non-copyrightable idea. The resulting pattern of notes is an expression that merges with the non-copyrightable idea of putting pi to music.” This is what US district court judge Michael H. Simon in his decision which was delivered on March 14, famously known as the Pi Day.
When Blake released his Pi-song in 2011, it went viral and its views shot right through the roof. However, soon Larks filed a case against it and YouTube removed the song, considering it as a copyrights infringement. Blake was obviously furious and when Larks filed a lawsuit against it, we put up a fierce defense.
Eventually, judge Simon ruled that the two pieces were significantly different in terms of musical phrasing, tempo and harmonies and that due to this, both are distinct. Moreover, he also expressed his opinion, quoted above, that Pi can’t be copyrighted per se (which was a bizarre claim by Larks in the first place).
While this is a huge win for Blake, it is also a victory for Maths and Physics in the sense that it re-affirms us that mathematical constants and other such facts and materials can’t be copyrights by someone who wishes to copyright them for monetary purposes.
Image courtesy paula.