Monday, January 4, 2010

Can you copyright, trademark, or patent a sequence of numbers?

Here's a question that popped in my head straight from the thinking room today and spark a lot of discussion when I brought it up at work. Can you copyright, trademark, or patent a sequence of numbers? I say no. Numbers are public domain.

You may ask why I ask this...Well everything that is digital is just a sequence of numbers. My stake is that once something is transfered into a digital media, the information in digital media is now public domain. If the media completely stays in a analog means then the information is copyrightable. This now brings the scare that all medical records and cell phone conversations that are on digital media are now public domain. This doesn't mean you can't encrypt the data so that it is easily unreadable but the information belongs to the public because it's made up of just a sequence of numbers.

My thinking behind this is based on my fight against the DMCA. What I've figured out from copyright and trademark laws is that only the single group who the information is associated with benefits and the rest of the human race suffers because this information can't be used without paying an exorbitant amount of money to use the idea. So these laws really don't benefit anyone. Once a movie is released in a digital media like a DVD then that information is now public domain and can not be copyrighted in it's digital form.

I'm not a lawyer so I want to hear what other people have to say. What do you think about this? How do feel about public laws protecting digital media? Feel free to spout out.