Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Infinity and the Supreme Court

Don't worry loyal readers. Circumstances are making it difficult for me to write posts this week but I hope to catch up soon.

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking on a case that deals with an interesting mathematical issue. The case consists of the extension of the copyright--often called the Mickey Mouse rule since just when Disney's copyright of Mickey is about to expire, the length of the copyright is extended.

The U.S. constitution prohibits unlimited copyrights. The lower courts have said that a finite extension of a finite term is still finite. So the lawmakers are getting around the constitution by approximating the unconstitional infinite term by longer and longer finite terms. This is basically a mathematical trick--creating infinity while always locally looking finite.

Will the supreme court put a stop to this? This will be an interesting case to watch.

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