You do not know this number

And even if you did, you would be wise not to say so:

There are ways to get in trouble with the law for just about everything: smoking weed, theft, horse theft, stealing a horse and teaching it to smoke weed, and even shouting “fire” in a crowded not-on-fire stable full of stoned horses. But numbers are pure and theoretical and definitely exempt from legal action, right?

Wrong, buddo. And the reason is that in the digital age, huge prime numbers are really, really important for encryption, as pointed out by YouTuber Wendoverproductions. So important, in fact, that having or sharing some of them could get you prosecuted under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits people from subverting copyright-prevention measures.

Please note how many of our Presidential candidates have declared themselves in opposition to DMCA, and then read on:

Back when people still bought DVDs, those discs were encrypted with a content scrambling system to keep people from ripping and burning them. Software to copy DVDs started circulating soon after the DMCA passed, and movie studios sued those distributing the software not long after that — and won. The court issued an injunction, and thereafter linking to or representing the decryption software was considered a breach of DMCA. People made shirts or poems that represented the software in protest. The silliest part? Phil Carmody discovered a 1,401-digit prime number — no, we’re not going to post it — that (with the right know-how) was executable as the very same illegal software — hence, an illegal prime number.

Not to worry. You do not know this number. (But it starts with 8.)

(Via Jennifer Ouellette.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    4 May 2016 · 7:02 am

    When they outlaw prime numbers, only outlaws will use prime numbers?

  2. AirSpencer »

    4 May 2016 · 9:42 am

    “Not to worry. You do not know this number. (But it starts with 8.)” It says something that I do know the number, but I did not know it started with 8, having learned it in hexidecimal with the help of this podcast.

  3. AirSpencer »

    4 May 2016 · 9:55 am

    Wait.. that’s a different DVD scrambling number. As usual, our host was correct and I do not know the number under discussion.

  4. CGHill »

    4 May 2016 · 3:01 pm

    To me, all those illegal numbers look alike. :)

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