Software Patents and Music and the Myth of Simultaneous Invention
Last Updated on Friday, 28 December 2012 10:52
Written by dbhalling
Wednesday, 2 January 2013 09:00
People who believe that software should not be patentable often argue that there are only so many combinations of instructions that can be made. Since the universe of instructions is limited all possible combinations are conceivable and therefore obvious and of course each instruction acts in a predictable manner. If we used this line of reasoning for music, which only has thirteen unique notes (all of which act in a predictable manner), you would assume that over the course of history every song has been written. And yet we find that people keeping coming up with new songs. It is very rare for two songs to be the same or even similar unless the second composer had access to the first composer’s song. With so few basic building blocks, much fewer than any high level computer language, how is this possible. We hear the Free Software Priests tell us it happens on the time in the world of software. Perhaps a little math can help us unravel this conundrum. The number of possible combinations for combining thirteen notes at one time is 6.2 billion. Now it would be fair to say that some of the combinations would never be found in any musical score, but this is just for one note in time. If we assume the average song is three minutes longs at 100 BPM (Beats Per Minute), which at the lower middle range of a metronome, and a unique combination of notes is played every beat, then we end up with 1.8 trillion possible songs. It is not too surprising, given this that artists do not simultaneously create the same song and that we have not run out of songs.
This whole line of reasoning also degrades what the creator of a song does. It suggests that they just string together random notes and then decide which random group sounds is pleasing. To listen to each of these possible combinations would take 10.8 million years. Even if one in a thousand of these combinations was a useful song that would require fifty hours of listening and then having the discernment, intelligence, and diligence to pick it out of that random group. Something I bet only a skilled musician could do with any meaningful success rate. So it is clearly absurd to suggest that just because the number of unique notes in music is very limited that it takes no or even ordinary skill to create a quality song. It is even more absurd in the case of software. The number of instructions in high level software is in the hundreds or more. While each instruction may not be unique changing the variables on which it operates makes it different. So clearly software has many more building blocks. But the Free Software Priests might complain that most software is executed one instruction at a time. This is true, but even a slow processor, such as the 80386 could execute three Million Instructions Per Second (MIPS) so in comparison to the thirteen unique notes at 100 BPM we are talking about more than 1.6 million unique combination per beat. Clearly the numbers get astronomical. The Free Software Priests (FSPs) are pedaling their own Kool Aid in order to steal other people’s work or cover up their inadequacies as programmers.
PS. Chemistry is made up of only 102 elements. How long do you think it would take you to discover a simple element like methane by randomly combining elements? There are at least 108 million possible combinations and this hardly covers the problems of how to create these combinations. The FSP are not dealing in logic and reason, they are dealing in propaganda that hides their anti-property, anti-individual, anti-reason thesis.
 In one octave there are only 13 notes including sharps and flats. Other octaves are just harmonics of these notes.
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