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How Wolfram Alpha could change software (They think they own search results)

Jul 31, 2009, 13:02 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Neal McAllister)

"In other words, Wolfram Research is claiming that each page of results returned by the Wolfram Alpha engine is a unique, copyrightable work, like a report or term paper. That makes Wolfram Alpha different not just from classic search engines, but from most software. While software companies routinely retain sole ownership of their software and license it to users, Wolfram Research has taken the additional step of claiming ownership of the output of the software itself. It's a bold assertion, and one that could have significant ramifications for the software industry as a whole.

"...Is software output copyrightable? Wolfram might be right. It is at least theoretically possible to copyright works generated by machines. Consider electronic music, for example. But some things can't be copyrighted, including recipes, simple instructions, and other trivial bits of information. For Wolfram Alpha to claim copyright protection for its query results, its pages must be such original presentations of information that they qualify as unique works of authorship."

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