from the [algorithmically-generated-trollface] dept
Over the weekend, TorrentFreak covered the discovery of the latest thing in copyright enforcement: algorithmically-generated content created solely for the purpose of extracting infringement settlements and licensing fees.
That’s the staggering notion being put forward by Qentis Corporation. The outfit, which claims a base in Russia, says that its business model is to use massive computing power to generate digital intellectual property on a never-seen-before scale and transfer the rights to its partners.
“Our clients are private high net-worth individuals (HNWI), investment funds and corporations that act as pure investors,” Qentis explains.
What Qentis is proposing is the bulk algorithmic creation of content – music, text, images etc – on such a large scale that in a few years its clients will own the rights to just about anything people might care to create and upload.
The creator of Qentis, Michael Marcovici, told TorrentFreak that his “company” had the potential power to generate content before actual creators can, resulting in a world where every new work is already infringing.
“Qentis aims to produce all possible combinations of text (and later on images and sound) and to copyright them,” Qentis’ Michael Marcovici told TorrentFreak.
“Concerning text we try this in chunks of 400 word articles in English, German and Spanish. That would mean that we will hold the copyright to any text produced from now on and that it becomes impossible for anyone to circumvent Qentis when writing a text.”
By 2020, supposedly every possible photograph will have been created and registered by Qentis. Text content generation is advancing at a faster rate.
Qentis — as a concept — is frightening. As an actual entity, it’s an ultra-dry satirical device. Marcovici’s website isn’t the future of anything. The computing power needed to accomplish this is beyond the means of anyone. Brute force creation results in tons on unusable “content,” something Marcovici readily admits.
“About the mathematics, this is mainly about working with n-grams, we don’t work iteratively with misses because that would produce as you mention a LOT of misses, probably only 1 out of few million would be readable,” the company’s Michael Marcovici told us.
Qentis is a piss-take on utilitarian content creation and over-broad content protection. It seeks to embody the worst aspects of automatically-generated content and copyright trolling. And it pretty much nails both, presenting a respectable corporate front that almost masks the insanity leaking in around the edges. A quasi-proof of concept page claims Qentis’ software “wrote” Lady Gaga’s “Applause” four years before she did. On its About page, it notes that it has already generated “97.42%” of all 400-words-or-less text in several languages before dropping this bombastic (and misspelling-laden) statement.
If you are planning to publish any text in these languages we must inform you that the chances are almost 100% that they are already part of the copyrighted inventory of the Qentis Corporation and that you are about to violate these and you will be held responsible for this.
Qentis does not issue permission to individuals to publish any of its texts or images, please do not try to inquire. Qentis grants writes for reproduction only two is selected group of publishers.
Another page claims this company will free online content providers from the hassle of creating content. Instead, all content roads will lead to Qentis, from which rights to its algorithmic creations will be distributed to a variety of middlemen (“high networth individuals”), who will then license the content.
Whoa if true, but you’d have to ignore the computing power needed to brute force content creation that covers almost every conceivable combination of words — especially given that the language keeps evolving and changing, adding massive new permutation and combinations. The claims Qentis/Marcovici make would be impossible in one language. Quentis claims to be doing this in several.
Then you’d have to ignore the fact that solely computer-generated content (i.e. content created without an actual creator) generally isn’t copyrightable. From the USPTO:
Similarly, the Office will not register works produced by a machine or mere mechanical process that operates randomly or automatically without any creative input or intervention from a human author.
While it wouldn’t take much to skirt this in real life (the presence of an editor or someone who tweaks algorithms before generating content), in the Qentis world where millions of pieces of content are being “created” every year, it would be impossible.
Furthermore, even if Qentis could create all those works and even if they were found to be copyrightable, Qentis would still run into a different problem: under the law, if someone truly comes up with the identical works independently, there’s no infringement which would kind of break Qentis’ entire business model (were it real). Independent invention, while not allowed in patent lawsuits, is a defense against copyright infringement. As Judge Learned Hand once famously wrote: “if by some magic a man who had never known it were to compose anew Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn, he would be an “author,” and, if he copyrighted it, others might not copy that poem, though they might of course copy Keats’s.” In short, even if all the other impossible situations above were taken care of, others creating these works independently likely would not be infringing anyway.
But it’s all a joke… or at least, yet another art project from Marcovici. At his personal website, it’s listed along with other concepts like Bitcoin paper money, rats in a Skinner box entering trading orders, an underground package delivery system and advertising on paper money.
Marcovici’s publicity bio that looks suspiciously like a Wikipedia page notes that he also owns the Domain Developers Fund, conveniently located out of reach of US regulators in the Cayman Islands. The website seems to be dead, but his personal site gives some details as to its purpose. The language used is decidedly more flowery than informative, but it appears to be (if it actually exists) a domain squatting business. While this is listed alongside other Marcovici projects (like Qentis), this one at least appears to have some basis in reality. Marcovici’s email address (firstname.lastname@example.org, according to the Qentis.com registry) is linked to at least 1,649 domain registries.
Interestingly, one of those is Fontsy.com (also listed on Marcovici’s website), a site that gives away “free” fonts (many of which can only be licensed by their creators), providing the following warning to those who partake of its services.
The fonts which available on this website are their authors’ property. If you want use any font from this website commercially, you should contact the author. Look at the redme-files for more informations. is there no readme-filme, open the font file. Under windows there are copyright informations.
So, Marcovici (or at least the administrators of this website) have a pretty slippery grasp on intellectual property rights, something Qentis.com definitely shares.
Qentis.com’s history as a domain dates all the way back to 2003, when it linked surfers to Marcovici’s ebay store. By 2006, it had gone dormant. From there it became a platform for pushing his book on his ebay experiences, only morphing to its current form sometime this year.
So, this is Marcovici’s stunted, but expansive, satire. A copyright-trolling automaton that will cleanse the world of creativity using brute force computing power and a team of outsourced rights enforcers. But behind all the copyright monopoly bluster, there are small hints at the message Marcovici is trying to send.
The same page where “Howard LaFarge” states that Qentis will become the “universal source of all web content,” thus “freeing” corporations from their dependence on “expensive” creators, this paragraph appears.
what is left now to creatives is not anymore the repetitive low quality text they currently produce mainly from machines for SEO but to engage in real creativity at the level where context becomes more important than words.
It’s even more explicit on a page detailing an interview with a “Russian TV station” that likely never happened.
The first way is simply to create something new, something really new, not just the remix of parts that are already there, really creativity is when people grow out of the usual stuff, we have been written books for thousands of years, produced images for thousands of years, it’s time to make use of new technologies and the combination of technologies to create content in new ways. such new ways of content, combinations of acting, sound, text, smell and and more can never be reproduced in an automated way. Yes Qentis makes it useless to continue to write average texts because they already exist writing text has become an activity like harvesting potatoes, or washing the car, jobs we want to eliminate so that we can grow over this and focus on more intellectual activities.
That’s the statement of intent. I don’t agree with all of it, especially since creativity is informed by predecessors and influences, but if Marcovici’s Qentis “project” is meant to mock SEO-friendly filler and bots that compile web detritus into ebooks, then I can get behind the concept. There’s nothing here that’s based in mathematical reality, but using hyperbolic bullshit to take an (admittedly blunted) swipe at “brute force” content generation (millions of web pages generated with all the care and creativity of “harvesting potatoes”) is a worthy windmill tilt. Unfortunately, Marcovici — with his domain-name squatting and casual use of the IP of others (at Fontsy, but likely elsewhere as well) — isn’t the best medium for the message.
Filed Under: content, copyright, hoax, michael marcovici