In 1982, Spider Robinson wrote a short story about copyright law in the future.

Copyright ceases to exist fifty years after the death of the copyright holder.   But the size of the human race has increased drastically since the l900s–and so has the average human lifespan.   Most people in developed nations now expect to live to be a hundred and twenty; you yourself are considerably older.   And so, naturally, S. ‘896 now seeks to extend copyright into perpetuity.”


“There are eighty-eight notes.   One hundred and seventy-six, if your ear is good enough to pick out quarter tones.   Add in rests and so forth, different time signatures.   Pick a figure for maximum number of notes a melody can contain.

And one has to conclude that

“Artists have been deluding themselves for centuries with the notion that they create.   In fact they do nothing of the sort.   They discover.   Inherent in the nature of reality are a number of combinations of musical tones that will be perceived as pleasing by a human central nervous system.   For millennia we have been discovering them, implicit in the universe–and telling ourselves that we ‘created’ them.   To create implies infinite possibility, to discover implies finite possibility.

Have you ever seen a cheerful elephant?



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