How Wolfram Alpha Could Change Software

InfoWorld (07/30/09) McAllister, Neil

Wolfram Research's Wolfram Alpha software is described as a computational knowledge engine that employs mathematical methods to cross-reference various specialized databases and generate unique results for each query.  Furthermore, Wolfram alleges that each page of results returned by the Wolfram Alpha engine is a unique, copyrightable work because its terms of use state that "in many cases the data you are shown never existed before in exactly that way until you asked for it."  Works produced by machines are copyrightable, at least in theory.  But for Wolfram Alpha to claim copyright protection for its query results, its pages must be such original presentations of information that they are eligible as novel works of authorship.  Although Wolfram says its knowledge engine is driven by exclusive, proprietary sources of curated data, many of the data points it works with are actually commonplace facts.  If copyright applies to Wolfram Alpha's output in certain instances, then by extension the same rules are relevant to every other information service in similar cases.  Assuming that unique presentations based on software-based manipulation of mundane data can be copyrighted, the question remains as to who retains what rights to the resulting works.

For more information visit: http://www.infoworld.com/d/developer-world/how-wolfram-alpha-could-change-software-248

 
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