You may have noticed that the link to the musical interpretation of pi I shared on Pi Day (3/14) is broken.  This is because someone else had already written a composition using the first digits of pi and copyrighted that composition.

Now, if Michael Blake, who created the composition I tried to share, had used the exact same rhythm as the previous composition (which I doubt), I would understand the copyright claim.  But pi is a number--how can it not be in the public domain?  Well, we can still write the first digits of pi, and we can say them, but if you want to use them to create a song by numbering the notes of the scale, you can't.  It's copyrighted.

Vi Hart, the recreational mathemusician, created a little video presenting her view on this copyright claim.  You can watch it here.  She's got a good perspective on this issue since she is a musician and a mathematician.

My main frustration with this copyright claim is that Michael Blake created something beautiful and interesting (and yes, I think he created it since I doubt he intentionally copied anything), and I couldn't share that with you.

The good news is, Blake put in a counter-claim, and it looks like his video is back up!  If you didn't get to see it before, you can watch it here (and keep your fingers crossed that it stays there this time).

For some more fun, check out Vi Hart's binary hand dance.

Leave a Reply.


    Kelly Patton has somehow completed 20 years of formal mathematical education with her love of math intact.  She wishes every person were so lucky, so that's why she writes this blog.