Did Watson Succeed On Jeopardy By Infringing Copyrights?
from the good-questions dept
An anonymous tipster points us to a really interesting comment by Peter Hirtle on a Laboratorium.net post discussing Watson, the Jeopardy-playing computer, where he asks whether or not Watson infringes on copyrights:
From IBM?s Watson Supercomputer Wins Practice Jeopardy Round in Wired Magazine: “Researchers scanned some 200 million pages of content — or the equivalent of about one million books — into the system, including books, movie scripts and entire encyclopedias.”
It seems unlikely that IBM got permission to scan one million books. Can we expect soon a lawsuit from the Author’s Guild against IBM and the producers of Jeopardy! (which, after all, is profiting from this scanning)?
This is a really good point and (once again) highlights the ridiculousness of copyright in certain circumstances. Of course, your viewpoint on this may depend heavily on whether or not you believe Google’s book scanning infringed on copyright (I don’t). But, for those who do, do you believe that IBM’s scanning of books does infringe? Technically, it’s the same basic process. In fact, you could argue that with Watson it’s much more involved, because Watson then actually made use of the actual data to a much greater extent than Google did with Google books.
But, really, a bigger point is how this highlights one of the oddities of copyright. If you read something and retain it in your brain, is that infringement? Most people say no, of course. Now, if a computer “reads” something and retains it in memory is that infringement? Well, that’s a bit more borderline according to many. So take it a step further and as we reach the point that people can augment their wetware brains with computer brains… when do we hit a copyright infringement issue?