Closed Systems are Destined to Fail

I had a very interesting night and morning researching the interpretation of copyright law as it applies to the production of computer generated 3D Fractal images.

I was planning on publishing a collection of images I had taken digital pictures of – however as of this writing I have ceased to pursue this project idea.

The law itself, at best is totally ambiguous about what constitutes infringement of computer generated imagery. But some of the members of the online community I found on Facebook were bordering on hostile in their reaction to the idea that I, as an artist, wanted to publish and thereby profit from the images I was discovering.  Their arguments ranged from bizarre to implausible from a strictly legal standpoint. It did not take me long to realize this was a closed community of individuals, some of whom felt they were entitled to “ownership” of any images that might be derived from the mathematical parameters ( formulas)  they were tweaking. They went on to cite the hardship and toil of their endeavors and how immoral it would be for someone to take advantage of that.

Here is what Copyright law says about formulas  –

What is NOT protected by copyright?

1. Ideas, Methods, or Systems

Ideas, methods, and systems are not covered by copyright protection. According to the US Copyright Office, Circular 2, this covers quite a few things including making, or building things; scientific or technical methods or discoveries; business operations or procedures; mathematical principles; formulas, algorithms; or any other concept, process, or method of operation.

Seems pretty clear-cut to me. But when I asked direct questions regarding this – all I got back were their personal interpretations of “moral and ethical” standards based on the fact that they had “put in the time and effort” to tweak these mathematical parameters that create the 3D Fractals. Thus, according to this “logic” I would need to track down and ask permission of each person who tweaked the parameter and then also give them credit in writing, for the published image.

Which then BEGS THE QUESTION – how the heck is THIS GUY able to make a living FILMING fly -troughs of their precious parameters?

When I questioned this – rather than get a reasonable adult answer, I basically was told this guy is some sort of Fractal God known to the community and therefore immune to judgments or questions about how he makes his money.

It was at this point that I decided to cease any pursuit of this as a for-profit publication project. 

After I stated that  I decided to cease any pursuit of this – members of the community continued to post rant after rant, punctuating all their comments with exclamation marks at every turn, then devolving into accusing each other of not properly crediting the so called “originators” of these mathematical formulas – obviously I had hit a very sensitive nerve.


I am just an artist. I like to share beautiful imagery that I create and sometimes discover.  When I publish a photo of a tree – I do not credit the original seed, the mathematical parameter or biological chemical composition that governs its shape.


And so it goes – I fully intend to incorporate the beauty of these newly discovered 3D Fractal images into some of my work in the future – but only as highly manipulated composites to other original image constructs. Just like this …

Dragon Seal

Until next time …




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visual artist, author, filmmaker