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APRA Correspondence

Email Correspondence

APRA Correspondence

Letter to APRA Friday, 5 October 2001

6-12 Atchison St
St Leonards NSW 2065

Friday, 5 October 2001

Magnus-Opus copyright registration with APRA

Dear APRA,

We wish to draw your attention to the Magnus-Opus series of melodies (as per enclosed CD-R and website www.magnus-opus.com) in which the undersigned composers and APRA members (Mr Jon Drummond and Dr Nigel Helyer) have published a major collection of compositions.

We wish to register these works with APRA and are seeking your assistance with copyright collection. As you will gather from the material enclosed and website, our Opus is relatively large, being based upon an algorithmic process. We therefore suggest that APRA register the 100,000,000,000 compositions as either a series, or as the algorithm which is capable of generating the series.

You might also note that the majority of our pieces are currently being played and broadcast via telecommunications media rather than in more conventional music venues. We trust that APRA will be able to find an appropriate method for assessing and collecting the royalties due to us.


Jon Drummond Dr. Nigel Helyer

Letter from APRA Thursday, 13 December 2001

Nigel Helyer and Jon Drummond
Magnus Opus
PO Box 195
Balmain NSW 2041

Thursday 13 December 2001

Dear Nigel and Jon


Thank you for your letter dated 5 October 2001 and first, please accept our apologies for the delay in the provision of this response.

As you know, for APRA to register a musical work, it needs to be satisfied that the work is

(a) in material form - we will assume in this instance that if required, you would be able to commit each of the 100,000,000 combinations of notes/ numbers to a material form; and

(b) Original - we do have a problem with this aspect of what you are attempting to register. It seems to us that if the combinations are musical works, they are not works created by you - rather, what you have done is create a formula for producing the maximum number of combinations that may be generated by a particular "instrument'. The works, or at least many of them, will have been in existence for some time, and any written telephone number may be a notation of the work.

For those reasons, we cannot accept registration of these works. If you would like to discuss the matter with me, please do not hesitate to call.

Yours sincerely

Milly Petriella
Manager - Wrister Services General

Letter to APRA Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Milly Petriella
APRA Manager - Writer Services General
16-12 Atchison Street
St Leonards NSW 2065

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dear Milly,


Thank you for your response dated 13th December 2001 in which you raise the issues of material form and originality. We would like to respond in the following manner.

Material Form

From the outset we consider the publication of the Magnus Opus web site (October 2001) to be the substantive material form in that it is capable of generating both the musical notation and musical performance for each of our works. However we recognise that APRA may require an additional mechanism for the purposes of registering our works within its database. To this effect we would be happy to provide APRA with a CD-ROM which is capable of producing both the sheet music and audio reproduction for the entire Magnus Opus collection which you may extract and transfer to your database at your leisure. We have subsequently made a more accurate calculation of the basic set of works covered by our copyright claim which currently stands at - 18,446,744,070,000,000,000.


After thorough discussions with our copyright lawyer we whish to raise the following points.

The concept of algorithmic composition (which you discount as a "formula") is well recognised within western musical traditions as a compositional practice for producing original works. One may cite Guido's automated chant composition, Mozart's Musikalisches W¸rfelspiel and Xenakis' stochastic composition.

Furthermore we claim that our approach is original in that our works are based upon a specific selection of 8 frequencies used in 16 unique diads which do not conform with equal tempered tunings. When combined with a flexible and arhythmic structure these form a unique and constrained set of compositions which do not infringe upon the copyright of pre-existing musical works. Our claim to originality is also based upon the full knowledge that there is no pre-existing concept of musical composition within the telecommunication systems, neither are we aware of any such intentions.

We refute your argument that we have created "a formula for producing the maximum number of combinations that may be generated be a particular instrument" on the basis that your argument bears no relationship to originality. In fact it would be quite conceivable (though unlikely) to compose all possible original works for the flute. In reality our copyright claim is for a limited (although large) set of compositions and not (as has been incorrectly reported) a universal or exhaustive copyright claim on composition per se.

We look forward to being able to register our works with APRA.

Yours Sincerely,

Nigel Helyer and Jon Drummond

Letter from APRA Wednesday, 28 August 2002



Level 10, 179 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Telephone 61 2 9266 3400 Facsimile 61 2 9266 3455 email@bhf.com.au
ABN 32 057 052 600

28 August 2002

Mr Nigel Helyer and Mr Jon Drummond
Magnus Opus
PO Box 195


Dear Helyer and Mr Drummond


We act for Australasian Performing Right Association Limited (APRA). We refer to APRA's letter to you dated 13 December 2001 and to your letter of 27 March 2002.

It is our understanding that you have developed an algorithm that generates combinations of telephone tone sequences (Sequences). We assume form your correspondence that it is your intention to register all of the Sequences as musical works, so that when the Sequences are played (for example, by a person dialling a telephone number which reproduces one of the Sequences) as the owner of the copyright in the work you would be entitled to remuneration under an APRA licence scheme yet to be developed. We have advised APRA that it cannot accept registration of the Sequences as musical works in which copyright subsists. From this, you should infer no disrespect on APRA's part for your work in developing the relevant algorithm.

As you are no doubt aware, copyright in Australia is governed by the Copyright Act (1968) Cth (Act). Section 32(1)(a) of the Act provides that "copyright subsists in an original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work- that is unpublished and of which the author was a qualified person at the time when the work was made".

We have advised APRA that the Sequences are not sufficiently original to be recognised as copyright works; and that even if they are original works, you are not their respective authors.

For a work to be original, the author must expend sufficient independent skill and effort in order to distinguish the work from others. Whether the degree of originality is sufficient is measured by whether or not the skill and labour supplied by the author is more than immaterial in each instance.

On your website http: //www.magnus-opus.com you identify the Sequences as a series based on "pairings of eight notes used to create sixteen different diads ... this sequence when expressed through the operation of a simple algorithmic generator produces some 18,446,744,070,000,000,000 melodies". We note that you also acknowledge that "these compositions correspond to the tonal sequences transmitted in contemporary telecommunication".

Unless we have misunderstood your material, it would seem that the Sequences or at least some of them coincide with tonal sequences previously in existence. Your particular role has been to develop an algorithm that generates all possible combinations of the particular tones (that is, the Sequences), not to create the Sequences themselves. We do not know whether it is possible for you to identify which of the Sequences has previously been captured in a material form, although it is obvious that many will have been. We suspect that no natural person is the author of the Sequences. In any event we do not see, with respect, how you can be the authors of Sequences that you did not create. We respectfully suggest that once your Sequences were determined ("based on a specific selection of 8 frequencies used in 16 unique diads"), that the algorithmic generations are results of little or no intervention by yourselves.

We draw your attention to Donoghue v Allied Newspapers Ltd [193811 Ch 106 at 109-110; Ladbroke (Football) Ltd v William Hill (Football) Ltd [1964] 1 WLR 27; and Telstra Corporation Ltd v Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd [2002] FCAFC 112 (15 May 2002).

In any event, it is APRA's view that even if it were to take place, the registration of the Sequences by APRA would not yield the results you may anticipate. In particular, it is unclear precisely what communications or performances of the Sequences you would intend APRA to license. However, it would seem likely that many of the performances would not be in public under the Act, and would therefore not be able to be licensed by APRA.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries, or if you would like to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely

Kate Haddock
Direct line: 9266 3412
email: haddock@bhf.com.au

Liability limited by the Solicitors Scheme, approved under the Professional Standards Act 1994 (NSW)

Email Correspondence

Subject: Copyright
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001
From: Kathy

Dear Nigel

Love the site. Very elegant. I have posted it to all the copyright teachers I know.


Subject: Illegal reproduction of some of your creations.
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001
From: Andy Carroll


I am an Australian computer programmer living in the United States. It has come to my attention that some American direct marketing companies are illegally reproducing some of your work, for commerical purposes.

My telephone number in the United States is (781) 648 4358, it is dialled by placing a 1 in front of it. I frequently receive calls from direct marketing companies who in an effort to sell me good and services have reproduced your Opus 17816484358 I suspect they are doing so illegally, and that you, the struggling artists, are not being justly rewarded.

What should I do to help you to not only bring these miscreants to justice, but to also ensure the punishment is sufficiently severe to ensure that other potential profiteers are suitably discouraged, bringing an end to the illegal reproduction of Opus 17816484358 for commerical purposes ?

Would you be interested in discussing possible terms for assigning the copyright on this specific work to me in an effort to move this action forward ?

Yours sincrely,

Andy Carroll
Arlington, MA, USA.

Subject: Re: Illegal reproduction of some of your creations.
Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001
From: Dr Sonique
To: Andy Carroll

Dear Andy;

Might I suggest that you consider purchasing a Magnus opus licence agreement for at least a one year period (via the pro-formas on the website). Then armed as the bona-fide copyright owner of the melody associated with your telephone number, you would be able to pursue these annoying tele-marketers for copyright infringement.

If I recall the NYC subway adverts with any clarity, there are plenty of lawyers happy to drum up business on a commission basis!!!

Hope to hear from you soon.

Yours, Nigel Helyer

Subject: Well Done!!
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001
From: Teabag Gabab

Well done guys, I read the article in the age newspaper.
I think your concept is abosolutely brilliant!!

Dont neccessarly agree with all your points, none the less and absolutely ingenious idea!!

Love it!! and good luck.


Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001
From: David Rudnick

This is a good joke! My rather gullible friend will actually dispose of all his cellphone equipment.

How did you come up with this?

David Rudnick

Subject: licence for RIAA phone number
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001
From: Nick Archer

How much would it cost to buy a permanent licence for the phone number of the RIAA headquarters?

Thank you

Nick Archer
Nashville, TN USA

Subject: your music
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001
From: Sharon Rosner


i think what you are doing is absolutely fantastic. do you sell CDs of your music, or even better, do you publish scores of your music? i would like to perform some of it and even record it (I'll of course ask your permission before).


Subject: Pulse Dialing is Fun
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: Kris Asick

What if I decided to dial my number using pulse dialing? You've copyrighted your music in the sense that if my phone number as a set of tones was in your composition I would be breaching copyright if I played any set of identical tones, but if I'm pulse dialing, I'm not dialing that tone, thus am not breaching the copyright you hold.

Heh heh. Slipped that one by you, hunh?

Well, I just want to ask you something now that we've got that out of the way. Why go after everyone? You own the copyright, you decide how to let it out. You should allow free residential usage of the copyright and then concentrate on going after the businesses. I mean, you'd grab a LOT more positive feedback that way than negative. (Because lets face it, the bulk of feedback is from single people with stuff on their minds, not big giant companies. Target businesses, leave the home user out of it, you'd be really popular.)

Just sharing my thoughts. I haven't actually checked my number because I'm too scared to try, but either way I can just dial pulse, no big deal :P


Subject: licence to call emergency services
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001
From: Matt Connors

Dear Dr Sonique

I'd like to be prepared for emergencies when your amnesty period expires. I would threrefore like to know whether I need your permission to call 000. I'm inclined to purchase a single use licence, as with up to 35 000 people on campus, we are bound to have use for it eventually. Of course, if we have two emergencies, well, someone has to go without, I suppose.

Matt Connors
Copyright and Digital Asset Management
Macquarie University

Subject: follow up
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001
From: Matt Connors

Thinking about my last email a bit further, it occurs to me that, if you have copyrighted 16 tone pairs (which I interpret to mean a 32-tone performance), we may be able to reproduce '000' (ie, less that 10% of the original piece) under our current licencing agreement with APRA/AMCOS and the Copyright Council. Of course, this does not extend to the non-higher education sector, unless they were dialing emergency services for the purpose of criticism or review in the media.

Am I interpreting the duration of your performances correctly? BTW, do we have to transmit rights management information with the performance?

Matt Connors
Copyright and Digital Asset Management
Macquarie University

Subject: This is the funniest site I've ever visited
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: Joe Death

You have got to be joking - right ?

Lets all take a giant leap back to the dark ages of telecommuncations because a bunch of capitalist were granted one of the stupidest copyrights is history.

Are all your friends and family using rotary dial telephones and CB radios now ? Didn't think so !

P.S. I hold the copyright on the sound your keyboard makes at each keypress so if you choose to reply this mail you will be in violation of International Copyright Law :)

(how stupid does that sound )


~The Plague~

Subject: bravo! encore! encore!
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: Rob Ray

hey guys!

Rob here from deadtech.
I run and art and technology artspace in Chicago IL USA.

You guys rock! Thank you!

We last year released a CD of music tracks based on the DeCSS source showing that art could be created out of what a federal judge here said had no artistic or free speech merit.

I know you're probably be inundated with email.
Just wanted to drop ya'll a line saying thanks!!!!!!!!!


Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: benjy80

You dickheads!
No dont just delete this email without reading it. Well If you think that you are showing the worlds big companys where to go you are wrong!!! You are very selfish. You are just going to make it worse for the average person. Big companys are not going to play your game they are going to use you as an example and copyright bloody everything they can! Well maybe I should jump on the band wagon too! I have just copywrited the english language. Please pay me $1 million by tomorrow. Oh and I patented breathing yesterday, so if you havn't paid you better stop breathing NOW or I will take you to court!

I dont mean to be offensive, however your actions outrage me immensly!

Yours Sincerely

Ben King

Subject: Copyright violations
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001
From: Daniel Rose

Do you intend to try and use this as a test case?

I would LOVE to see that...

Also, the public phones and some other phones which "disguise" the beeps for security, is this a form of copyright protection?

Can we weave the DMCA into this somehow?

Can you see any way that this worthwhile project will ever have some semi-serious ramifications and will not be taken solely as a joke?


Daniel Rose
IT Client Support
National Library of Australia

Subject: Good job!
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001
From: Josh Garfield


I must congratulate you on an excellent job in combining computer programming and musical talent to create such a comprehensive database and an otherwise metaphorical 'slap' to the 'big business' companies that would otherwise abuse copyright laws.

My name is Josh Garfield and I am a senior (4th year) at the University of Pennsylvania studying computer science and international relations. As an aspiring law student in the field of intellectual property, I feel that too many big business companies have used their extensive resources (monetary and human capital) to force artists, home businesses, and others to conform to their (the b-b companies) needs.

I wish the best of luck in your endeavors and hope that your future will be bright and everlasting.

Just of note: I found your webpage through an article on http://www.slashdot.com and http://www.theage.com.au.


Josh Garfield

Subject: Well Done!
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001
From: Olivia

Dear Dr Sonique and Jon Drummond,

I am currently studying my final year of law at the University of New South Wales. One of the final subjects I am studying is Intellectual Property, of which copyright forms the bulk of the syllabus.

Part of our assessment is to keep track of newspaper articles that report on this area of law and I noted an article on your work in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 October 2001 and visited your website. I just want to applaud you for contextualising my studies and giving the copyright topic some life!


Subject: 867-5309 Jonny, Don't lose my #
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001
From: AMetamorphosis

Dear Dr. Suess & all the little who's in Whoville,

Thank you so kindly for todays amusing website. I fould a link to your website @ www.fark.net and generally like to check out strange and unusual articles. I am going to use your website tonight in a business ethics class as a catylist for discussion on how corporate entities abuse the legal system.

A lot of the students use a phrase of " Are you on Crack ? ! ? " when they are told something unbelieveable ... I'm sure I will hear that phrase repeatedly tonight.

PS. Feel free to sue me for making all calls via touchtones. I will be happy to provide my name , address, & frequently dialed numbers so that you will have excellent proof for your attornies.


AMetamorphosis ... aka ... Randy

Subject: Get a Lawyer (or Hum to One?)
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2001
From: Jim Maule

I'm fascinated, guys, but no one violates copyright by humming your tune or dialing a phone number. There are other elements that must be satisfied for copyright violations, which are not present.

Moreover, when I use my telephone I do not dial my own number. Therefore, your statement that by using my telephone I am "copying" your composition is incorrect. Your alleged claim would need to being when *someone else* dials MY number.

And, of course, someone else is doing something.... I'm not (when I answer my phone I don't hear a melody). And, of course, a person who tries to copyright every combination of letters of the alphabet and who therefore claims to own copyright in all words, sentences, and paragraphs will meet the same result as that encountered by the person who already tried it.

Good try. Rather amusing. I enjoy the satire.

Jim Maule
Professor of Law
Villanova University School of Law

Subject: Better than Bach, nearly as good at Kylie...
Date: Sat, 3 Nov 2001
From: Bernstein

Great work, maestro. I find your startling compositions very soothing.

Any word on a CD? It would be great if it were out in time for Christmas.


Yaniv Bernstein

Subject: As you like it!
Date: Sun, 04 Nov 2001
From: G Denoncourt

Thanks for the beauty!

You were perhaps unaware that you have stumbled upon a way for microprocessors to be coupled in a way which is likened to a "series" rather than "parallel" processing configuration. You are using an octave and our OCTAVEAN product is similar to your program. Conceptually, the numbers and alphabet are represented by dual tones in octaves to get 0 through 9 and a through z which allows programing of inbedded 8088 instruction set devices. We do not copyright and our input is yours to use and incorporate as you like it.


Thanks for the beauty!

G Denoncourt

Subject: Magnus v. Magnum
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001
From: W. Keith Percival

Dear Magnus-Opus,

Is there any particular reason why it was decided to call your group Magnus-Opus rather than Magnum-Opus? As I'm sure you're aware, the Latin word 'opus' is neuter and would normally take the neuter form of the accompanying adjective: hence 'magnum,' not 'magnus.'

Second question: have you ever been asked this question before? (I expect so!)

I heard about you from National Public Radio, and that happened shortly after my wife and I had returned from a month-long vacation in Australia, during which we more than once strolled around Hyde Park in Sydney, a city which is now one of our favourites! We envy you people!

With every good wish.
Keith Percival W. Keith Percival
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics
Seattle, WA 98115

Subject: Re: Magnus-Opus
Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2001
From: Terre Thaemlitz

brilliant idea!

i've been really upset about people copyrighting human genomes. do you know about this issue? the fucking u.s. patent office says they first allowed corporations to copyright genomes so that the companies will continue doing research out of the possibility of future profits and recouping research costs. however, the result is that medical research (which relies on shared information) is getting shut down at universities and hospitals because corporations are starting to enforce their copyrights. for example, one university was running tests that can tell if you are at high risk for breast cancer, but the company who owns the genome holding such information insists on $2500 for each test performed, which means people go untested, and are unable to freely find information related to a genome they may carry in their own body. truly evil stuff.

so, it is my duty to inform you that i shall not pay you one red cent of royalties for any phone call ever ever ever. you an have your attorneys try to make me pay, but we'll both go bankrupt in the process.



love, terre

© Dr.Sonique and Jon Drummond