Exclusive Mathematician Phil Carmody, who in March of this year managed to encode the DeCSS source in a prime number, has upped the ante by producing a prime number which represents an executable version of the banned CSS descrambler.
Legally this is all a bit squishy, as the DMCA forbids us to make available an access-control circumvention device. All well and good, not that we've tended to care what the DMCA allows or forbids; but this item is also the fruit of mathematical research which the public certainly has a right to see.
It's a fine legal paradox for the recording industry to chew on. Is research illegal because it could in some tiny degree weaken their monopoly over the production and distribution of digital media? Or does the public's right to be informed of academic developments make a circumvention device legal when it also exhibits academic value?
In practical terms, we have to wonder if there's anything to be gained from objecting to such an exercise. Would the industry dare try to chill research and journalism, with the public-relations nightmare that entails, merely to maximize their profits? We wonder. They certainly lost their nerve over the SDMI debacle.
And anyway, isn't the public's right to exchange information ultimately a superior concern? Which is not to say that profits don't matter -- but just that some things matter more.
"I'm a firm believer in authors' and artists' rights, the rights that are protected under copyright," Carmody writes on a Web page detailing his latest potentially illegal prime number. "Ripping off DVDs with no intention to buy the originals is illegal in almost all countries in the world, and correctly so."
"However, I do not believe that the current implementation of US law is a sensible one," he continues. "I believe it's logically inconsistent, and is biased towards the interests of multinational publishers and against consumers."
We couldn't agree more. So here's that fascinating prime number, which incidentally just happens to defeat CSS:
493108359702850190027577767239076495728490777215020863208075 018409792627885097658864557802013660073286795447341128317353 678312015575359819785450548115719393458773300380099326195058 764525023820408110189885042615176579941704250889037029119015 870030479432826073821469541570330227987557681895601624030064 111516900872879838194258271674564774816684347928464580929131 531860070010043353189363193439129486044503709919800477094629 215581807111691530318762884778783541575932891093295447350881 882465495060005019006274705305381164278294267474853496525745 368151170655028190555265622135314631042100866286797114446706 366921982586158111251555650481342076867323407655054859108269 562666930662367997021048123965625180068183236539593483956753 575575324619023481064700987753027956186892925380693305204238 149969945456945774138335689906005870832181270486113368202651 590516635187402901819769393767785292872210955041292579257381 866058450150552502749947718831293104576980909153046133594190 302588132059322774443852550466779024518697062627788891979580 423065750615669834695617797879659201644051939960716981112615 195610276283233982579142332172696144374438105648552934887634 921030988702878745323313253212267863328370279250997499694887 759369159176445880327183847402359330203748885067557065879194 611341932307814854436454375113207098606390746417564121635042 388002967808558670370387509410769821183765499205204368255854 642288502429963322685369124648550007559166402472924071645072 531967449995294484347419021077296068205581309236268379879519 661997982855258871610961365617807456615924886608898164568541 721362920846656279131478466791550965154310113538586208196875 836883595577893914545393568199609880854047659073589728989834 250471289184162658789682185380879562790399786294493976054675 348212567501215170827371076462707124675321024836781594000875 05452543537
We knew you'd be intrigued. ®