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Phoney art now at your fingertips
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, October 1, 2001

Copyright: your number's up
The Age, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday 4 October 2001

Copyright Claimed on Telephone Tones
Slashdot Wednesday 3 October 2001

Copyrighted Music and Phones
NPR : All Things Considered for November 2, 2001
Real Audio Interview

Audio Art in the Digital Networks
Southwestgerman Radio SWR2 Audiohyperspace

Phoney art now at your fingertips
The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday, October 1, 2001

By Claire O'Rourke

They've got your number ... Jon Drummond, left, and Nigel Helyer, AKA Dr Sonique.

Photo: Simone de Peak

Phone users be warned. Each time you dial a number, you have performed a musical piece and may have infringed the international copyright of the composers.

Sound artists Jon Drummond and "Dr Sonique" have done the unthinkable - rubber stamped the "melody" of every possible telephone number combination as their own.

Their Magnus-Opus is a playful way of challenging copyright law, which Dr Sonique - better known as artist Dr Nigel Helyer - says often benefits the "corporates" before creators of artistic works.

"It is not so much an attack on copyright, it is the way it is prosecuted in the public domain," he says.

The work will be installed in the gateway lounge at the Adelaide Festival of the Arts in March next year.

Launched in Newcastle at Electrofringe, the new media component of the This Is Not Art festivals held over the weekend, their Web site www.magnus-opus.com outlines the project. Sixteen two-note chords were thrown into an algorithmic generator, which produced 10 billion melodies.

"It is not without reason, therefore, that we claim to be the world's most prolific composers," the site proclaims.

Coincidentally, it says, some of the melodies - copyrighted in 1974 in London - correspond to tones used in phones, modems and other Internet devices. Anyone can plug in their number and see if their melody is in use.

If so, anyone who dials it is infringing the artists' copyright. The site provides application forms for licence agreements which can be filled out.

The work, Helyer says, "turns the power relationship on its head". "It comes from someone at the bottom of the food chain, speaking from the point of view of someone at the top."

See more of the festivals, which end today, at www.thisisnotart.org

Copyright: your number's up
The Age, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday 4 October 2001

By Fergus Shiel

Listen up, they've got your number. Australian composers Nigel Helyer, aka Dr Sonique, and Jon Drummond have copyrighted 100,000,000,000 telephone tone sequences.

You might not know it but every time you dial a number, you play a short melody.

With the aid of a computer, Helyer and Drummond have notated the tones of every imaginable phone number combination and, in turn, claimed the melodies as their own. Next time you make a phone call, therefore, chances are you'll be in breach of international copyright law.

If business can claim ownership over the elemental building blocks of human life, the composers say it's only fitting that artists lay claim to the "DNA" of business and are paid for it.

"We're saying to (big business), 'Okay guys, the boot is on the other foot. If you really believe in copyright, you've got to pay'," Helyer says.

"I think Mr Howard will be high on the list. Universities. Lots of corporations. We'll go for it."

The composers say their Magnus-Opus is a playful way of lampooning copyright laws that protect big business rather than artists.

You can check your home, work, mobile, fax or modem number against their compositional database by logging on to www.magnus-opus.com.

If your number is matched, the melody will be played, the notes scored and a direction given to complete the licence agreement supplied online as soon as possible.

Helyer and Drummond, who've only just launched the website, say they've had one offer of payment already. "An American guy tired of direct sales people calling him has told us he'd like to purchase the copyright for his number so that he can stop them," Helyer says.

The website explains in greater detail how the composers went about their creation by throwing 16 tone pairs into an algorithmic generation to produce countless melodies.

"The whole telecommunications system is entirely musicalised," Helyer says.

* Magnus-Opuswill be installed at the Adelaide Festival of the Arts next year.

© Dr.Sonique and Jon Drummond