Let's say I have an "infinite computer" that could iterate through and generate 1000x1000px images iterating through all colour combinations (I understand there would be waaaaaay too much data, but let's suppose). Then I go and claim these images as things I've created, and therefore make copyright claims on any image less than 1000x1000px because it's part of one of my images (ostensibly I could make claims against bigger images too, because they likely resemble some image in my library). I even go as far as to write a program to search my database for the images which I've produced which are being "copied" by the offender.

How might a case be made against me?

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    I believe we have an essentially identical question but for all possible 8-note music sequences, and the basic idea is that you can't copyright the productions of a program, just the program itself. I know it's on the SE somewhere, just not sure if it's this site. Dec 22, 2020 at 5:47
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    @DavidSiegel It's a lot more than 256 million. It's 256^1000000, which is something like 2.79 * 10^2408239 (almost two and a half million digits). That's assuming 256 colors per pixel, which would not be a very good looking image. Dec 22, 2020 at 16:41
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    @Ross Quite correct, I wasn't thinking. Anyway, the point remains. For music one could actually create all possible short sections, because the number of possible elements is much smaller, and music is essentially sequential. For images, not so much. Dec 22, 2020 at 16:47
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    This is basically just an extreme version of this old Onion article: Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes. Dec 22, 2020 at 17:02
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    The premise of this question is flawed. You don't have an infinite computer. You can't even generate all possible 256-bit encryption keys. What chance do you stand to generate all possible 1-megapixel images?
    – Nayuki
    Dec 22, 2020 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


This has been asked about music. A large flaw is that independently creating something that has already been copyrighted is not copyright infringement. Copyright infringement requires copying, requires access to the original.

Law suits regarding music copyright infringement involve demonstrating that the accused composer had heard, or must have heard, the original.

Another flaw is the requirement that a copyright work be creative, implying a human creator but this is not 100% settled - from a WIPO paper -

Creative works qualify for copyright protection if they are original, with most definitions of originality requiring a human author. Most jurisdictions, including Spain and Germany, state that only works created by a human can be protected by copyright.

  • Do you have a link to the answer about music? Dec 22, 2020 at 6:15
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    @user253751 No. Normally the plaintiff merely proves "substantial similarity" and "access", that is that the accused infringer could have copied. If the defendant alleges independent creation, that becomes an issue of fact. There have been cases where copyright infringement was held proved without evidence of access, merely on the degree of similarity. One such was a suit over the song "Rum and CocaCola" in the 1950s if I recall correctly. See My Life in Court by Nizer. Dec 22, 2020 at 16:24
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    @user253751 Sort of. They have to prove that it is possible that you've heard the song before and since that song has been played by radio stations that's enough proof for the courts. They don't have to prove that you listen to radio. The courts will just assume that you are a member of the general public
    – slebetman
    Dec 23, 2020 at 4:39
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    @user253751 For example maps sometimes include trap streets for the purpose of proving that the map is copied instead of independently created.
    – jpa
    Dec 23, 2020 at 9:58

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