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June 9, 2004
Monolith - An Uninteresting Experiment in Copyright
BoingBoing links to a new "copyright experiment" (Monolith and digital copyright). The software project, called Monolith, takes two digital files and XOR's them (what the author refers to as "munging"), creating a third file. The author calls the two input files "element" and "basis." I think many people might call them "plaintext" and "key." The output file (aka the "monolith" file) would be called the "cryptotext."
The conceit of the concept is that neither the cryptotext nor the key is copyrighted. Thus, it should be legal to distribute both. Otherwise, the author of Monolith claims, everything is copyrighted and nothing can be distributed because there is always a number such that, if XOR'd with another number, will produce a copyrighted work.
This argument is not new and it not terrible interesting. It basically postulates that any encrypted transmission of information is actually not a transmission of information at all.
UPDATE 12:00 PT
LawMeme: Can XOR Eliminate Copyright?
Joe Gratz: Monolith: Cool Idea, Doesnt Work
UPDATE 1330 PT
Toehold did the work I was too lazy to do and has a brief history of the concept of evading copyright this way It's still rockin' XOR to me.
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