On Tue, Feb 21, 2006 at 07:42:26PM -0600, Jan Depner wrote:
A computer program can be written as a big integer. Moreover, a
computer program has no representation that is not a big integer.
A song, novel, poem, picture, all have representations that are not
integers. In particular, they are objects (though I contend
that the relevant fact is that they are not integers).
Since there is no difference between some big integer and a computer
program, you must defend a copyright against either use. You have a
computer program and I am doing math. I email you my results, and it
contains the number of your program. I am using your program without
a license. After all, *you have no way to tell that I am not*.
Alternatively, a good way to make illegal copies of software would be
to send an email that demonstrated some math. At a predetermined point,
some number would be the program in question. You couldn't claim
copyright infringment, because you have *no way of telling that I'm
not doing math*.
Philisophically, if you accept ownership of software, I don't see how you
can not accept ownership of numbers without somehow appealing to the
intent of the user.
Artistic objects you mentioned like the above have representations
that are not integers. Though I can have a digital representation of
a painting that is an integer, I can also have an object that bears no
sensible mapping to the integers. So I argue that unlike computer
programs, things that are merely "digitizable" are very different from
things that are only "digital".
"The good Christian should beware of mathematicians, and all those who
make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians
have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine
man in the bonds of Hell."
--St. Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram, Book II, xviii, 37