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Man Claims Copyright On Mental Math Trick

from the try-calculating-how-likely-you-are-to-enforce-that... dept

There’s a wonderful book by Ben Klemens called Math You Can’t Use about how the growing encroachment of intellectual property laws on things like basic algorithms and software are locking up math. However, it appears that one guy is trying to take it to an extreme. Pegr alerts us to a story of a guy who claims to have obtained a copyright on a method for multiplying any two numbers in your head, and he’s willing to sell you the trick for $33. Of course, there are all sorts of mental multiplication tricks out there (and a quick search of the web will teach you most of them, if you’re unfamiliar with them). There aren’t many details on the supposed “copyright” on this trick, so it’s not clear if he actually registered the copyright or just thinks he has the copyright, but it will be fascinating to see if he stops anyone else from discussing the method, should it actually be new.

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Comments on “Man Claims Copyright On Mental Math Trick”

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ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 booklet

“It becomes clear when you see Clay’s written explanation, and it’s that six-page booklet that earned him a copyright. You can’t copyright ideas, but you can get the legal rights to the way you explain them, said Anthony Biller, attorney with the Cary firm Coats & Bennett, which specializes in intellectual property law.”

This is why lawyers tend to start off as English majors. “The way you explain them” *sounds* a lot more encompassing than “the specific expression of an idea.”

ethorad says:

copyright registration

When you register a copyright, can people turn up to view/read it? Similar to the way anyone can see the details of a patent.

The copyright in this case is registration number TXu001325432

I’m guessing you can’t, as otherwise the copyright office would be breaching copyright, but how can you ensure that you haven’t broken someone’s copyright if you can’t see what it is?

(and on a related note, a thought has occurred to me. What happens if you claim copyright on your patent application in order to try and keep it quiet? Or does submission to the patent process require giving them permission to publish?)

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Prior art

There’s a rumour that the specific method goes back at least as far as the 12th century Indian mathematician Bhāskara II. But I’m not going to pay $33 to find out, either.

In the end, it’s hard to say what this guy is claiming. It’s not illegal to charge $33 for a pamphlet. It is illegal to enforce a claimed ownership of a 900 year old mental mathematics trick.

jake says:

Yeah… just because you multiplied two 4 digit numbers, doesn’t mean you can multiply any number using the method. You have to give a proof before you claim that. There are plenty of “public domain” fast multiplication methods (and non-copyrightable I might add) that can do this only within a specific range of numbers. When you travel outside the range, it fails. Unless there is a formal proof, I’m not paying $33.00 for it.

Also, how can you copyright a formula that is “in your head”? U.S. copyright law only applies to writings or works that are “physically rendered” such as software code. You can’t copyright something that is floating around in your brain unless you write it down, and if you do write it down I would find it hard to believe that it wouldn’t be disseminated through word of mouth (which is not copyrightable because saying something isn’t physical).

Also, this came from Faux News. Proceed with caution.

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