New Music No Longer Exists, Thanks to an Algorithmadmin
New music, and the copyright lawsuits that can potentially accompany them, are now a thing of the past, thanks to lawyer, musician, and programmer Damien Riehl and his partner Noah Rubin.
The duo created an algorithm “to generate by brute force all mathematically possible melodies”, wrote said melodies to MIDI files, and released them into the public domain using a Creative Commons Zero license, in an attempt to help songwriters make more music.
Dubbed the All the Music Project, the program designed by Riehl and Rubin created a catalog of 68 billion 8-note melodies at a rate of 300,000 melodies per second.
“No song is new. Noah and I have exhausted the data set,” Riehl said during a TEDx Talk in Minneapolis. “Noah and I have made all the music to be able to allow future songwriters to make all of their music.”
While their intentions are certainly good, copyright lawyers still disagree on whether the Creative Commons Zero license truly puts these works in the public domain, according to VICE, as works are technically only considered “public domain” if they are government works, or if the copyright has expired. But Riehl appears confident.
“Under copyright law, numbers are facts, and under copyright law, facts either have thin copyright, almost no copyright, or no copyright at all,” he explained. “So maybe if these numbers have existed since the beginning of time and we’re just plucking them out, maybe melodies are just math, which is just facts, which is not copyrightable.”