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Amazon Patents Changing Authors' Words

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the it-was-a-good-time-it-was-a-bad-time dept.

Books 323

theodp writes "To exist or not to exist: that is the query. That's what the famous Hamlet soliloquy might look like if subjected to Amazon's newly-patented System and Method for Marking Content, which calls for 'programmatically substituting synonyms into distributed text content,' including 'books, short stories, product reviews, book or movie reviews, news articles, editorial articles, technical papers, scholastic papers, and so on' in an effort to uniquely identify customers who redistribute material. In its description of the 'invention,' Amazon also touts the use of 'alternative misspellings for selected words' as a way to provide 'evidence of copyright infringement in a legal action.' After all, anti-piracy measures should trump kids' ability to spell correctly, shouldn't they?"

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323 comments

sounds like copyright infringement (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905417)

also, suck my cock you homos!

What do you expect? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905507)

You get what you pay for....

Patentable? (5, Insightful)

OnlyPostsWhilstDrunk (1605753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905431)

This bugs me about patents. This sounds like an exact copy of what they've done with maps for years. They add/remove/rename tiny roads in the middle of nowhere and if you distribute maps with those roads then they know you copied their stuff.

Everything is a damn patent these days. Yo dawg, I put a clock in your clock so I can sue you while you check the time.

Re:Patentable? (1)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905561)

Everything is a damn patent these days. Yo dawg, I put a clock in your clock so I can sue you while you check the time.

Don't worry, I've found prior art [wikipedia.org] on placing a ____ in a ____. We'll have that patent invalidated in no time!

Re:Patentable? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905879)

Yeah, but that's just dolls.. good luck against the patent i'm getting on nested programs.

You can't write

while ( 1 ) {
fork();
}

Because that would be a nested program

Similarly

extern func2 (a,b );
extern next(a);

extern a0;
extern r1;

func1 ( int a ) {
if ( a == a0 )
return func2(a, r1);
else
return func2(a, func1( next(a) ));
}

Has a nested function, also to be my exclusive right under this 'nested programs' patent

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905567)

My girlfriend writes government proposals for armored vehicles. A lot of the stuff they deal with is top secret, and the stuff that isn't is still subject to corporate spying. The way they find leaks is by doing exactly this.

Additionally if people know Amazon is doing this, you just have to misspell some other words, change a few more or run a spell check. If people know, it doesn't work.

Re:Prior art (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905659)

Say an armored vehicle spec contains 20 instances of the word "aluminum". Some use the US spelling, the other use the "rest of the world" spelling. Changing the spelling of other words won't remove that signature from the document. You need to know where their code is to be able to corrupt it.

Re:Prior art (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905943)

... the word "aluminum". Some use the US spelling, the other use the correct spelling.

FTFY

Re:Prior art (3, Insightful)

saiha (665337) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906017)

With specs its a bit more difficult, but with books its not really that hard to get 2 copies from 2 seperate sources. Diff the two and you can create a unique sig than matches neither.

Exactly (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905705)

This technique has been used to find spies for decades, if not centuries.

Ironically, something akin is even explained in literature... an old SF story, about a doctored "galactic encyclopedia" or some such (Saberhagen or Asimov?). The story line there was that it was common practice for cartographers and encyclopedia/dictionary publishers purposely add minor bits of fiction to the reference work, with the idea that it won't do any harm, and if it gets copied, we'll know.

This reference work embellishing is not the same as rendering each copy as individually identifiable, but it still reeks of prior art.

BTW, I thought there was a term for this intentional "salting" of material to make it identifiable, but it escapes me right now. If you know the word, please educate us.

Never mind... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905761)

I saw another post that already has the wikipedia [wikipedia.org] on exactly this, and, as a bonus, includes:

A Fred Saberhagen Berserker science fiction short story, "The Annihilation of Angkor Apeiron," has a Berserker directed to a star system by an encyclopedia salesman. The salesman is put on trial for treason, but reveals that the encyclopedia article for the star system, with population figures, resources, etc., was a fictitious entry included in the encyclopedia to detect plagiarism; thus the Berserker actually ended up in an empty star system where it ran out of fuel and ceased to be a threat to humanity.

Re:Exactly (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906257)

add minor bits of fiction to the reference work

I think this part captures what makes me uneasy about the whole thing.

Re:Patentable? (1)

arogier (1250960) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905573)

I have to wonder what happens if God forbid someone was to cite one of these texts and attribute a quote to a copy which may be materially different to another copy of the same text. Is each copy to be treated as its own addition?

Re:Patentable? (3, Funny)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905637)

The word you wanted was edition, or are you infringing on amazon's patent?

Re:Patentable? (1)

arogier (1250960) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905677)

Merely contributing to the abundance of existing implementations of the technique described in the patent.

Re:Patentable? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905639)

On 9/11/2001 the Twin Towers were attacked By terrorists. In November 2001 President Gore declared war on Afghanistan.

Hmmm. There appears to be something wrong with my history book.

Re:Patentable? (2, Funny)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906061)

Hmm, you're right. that should be 09/11/2001.

It's not about the patent, it's about the lying (5, Insightful)

localroger (258128) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905739)

It's an heretical thing when mapmakers do it, lying (even trivially) and corrupting their craft because of the threat of being copied. It should not be tolerated there nor should the practice claimed by this patent application be tolerated, not because the patent is bad but because the practice itself is an affront to all of us.

No. Prior art. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905917)

This exact same thing was demonstrated in Kijk magazine over ten years ago (when I still subscribed to it) as a stenography method. It used the Microsoft-and-the-pilot joke as an example.

Re:Patentable? (4, Funny)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905941)

Aww come on. This is the smuckin fartest invention ever!

Re:Patentable? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906085)

That fingers other mapmakers but not people who purchase your maps.

Encyclopedia makers did this too.

Amazon seems to hope to individually change each book sold--- I think their goal is unrealistic.

Re:Patentable? (4, Informative)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906105)

I don't blame people for not reading the claims section, because it's necessarily an obtuse fusion of legalese and jargon.

But no, they did not patent *doing* this, they patented the *way* that they do this. Patents cover implementations, and not ideas. Some have argued that the line has been blurred with certain classes of patents, but it hasn't blurred so far that the concept in the slashdot summary is actually locked up as IP.

Frankly, I can't be bothered to look at the claims either. But the idea itself certainly lends itself to ideas that are patentable (whether they should be patentable or will be rendered retroactively invalid is another question). For instance, I'm curious how they identify which words should be replaced, and the system by which they choose a synonym that hopefully doesn't destroy rhyming patterns, metrical rhythm, puns, shades of meaning, and ambiguity in words with multiple meanings that don't completely intersect the candidate synonym's meaning.

Also, whatever they are they doing to prevent the trivial case of three copies being compared to recover the original. Maybe they have a bunch of sets of synonyms that are commonly replaced so you need more to get the original, but even then, do they arrange it in some way so that the source of the leaks can be traced down despite the alteration? Or maybe they just assume that book pirates are morons.

They might do nothing for any of those cases, mind you. Once again, I can't be bothered to read these damned things. Which is part of why I don't submit articles about ones that I've decided I think are actually stupid.

Bezos principal (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906121)

The new Bezos contest: Who can be more evil

Re:Patentable? (4, Informative)

pvera (250260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906127)

Yes. And that is a variation of the classic canary trap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canary_trap [wikipedia.org] ): copies of classified documents that are not 100% identical. When the leaks surface, you can trace the original recipient of the compromised copy. I like the thing with the maps because it is the kind of thing that makes the violator look like a complete idiot, and it's impossible to defend in court.

Re:Patentable? (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906253)

This sounds like an exact copy of what they've done with maps for years.

They do it with phone books too... they load 'em with fake people/numbers.

Sometimes I wonder if major corporations do that with confidential internal documents to figure out who leaked the specs of their latest product to engadget. (that is, when they don't intentionally "leak" it)

Re:Patentable? (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906303)

Harley-Davidson does it with every parts diagram. It's like finding Waldo and can be as subtle as a screw with reverse threads or an octagonal nut.

diff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905435)

a diff on a couple of copies of the book fixes this?

Quick! Someone say it's only defensive! (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905457)

They'd NEVER file multiple lawsuits against people for infringing totally obvious patents, right? Of course not! That'd be like saying that Slashdotters actually believed half the stuff they said about freedom and rights.

Re:Quick! Someone say it's only defensive! (2, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905475)

They'd NEVER file multiple lawsuits against people for infringing totally obvious patents, right? Of course not! That'd be like saying that Slashdotters actually believed half the stuff they said about freedom and rights.

Quick! No one's said anything stupid yet! Let's construct a straw man so I have something to ridicule!

Re:Quick! Someone say it's only defensive! (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906013)

Two words: One click.

Advertising (4, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905461)

Yup - that's the killer application.

Change "Johnny nervously wrinkled his brow as he reached for his Coke" into "Johhny nervously wrinkled his brow as he reached for his Pepsi".

If this doesn't happen, I will eat my hat/del/ ACME Brand Prestige Fedora TM.

Re:Advertising (4, Funny)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905531)

Scientists point out problems. Engineers use them to kill people overseas.

Re:Advertising (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905649)

Why not change "Johnny nervously wrinkled his brow as he reached for his Coke" into "Johhny nervously wrinkled his brow as he reached for his cock" - instant pr0nalisation, baby! ;)

Re:Advertising (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905681)

Yeah thats a whole other kettle of fish.

canary trap (3, Informative)

dwbassett42 (752317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905473)

This is just the Canary Trap [wikipedia.org] , which is nothing new. It's in fact been around long before Tom Clancy gave it that name. Why do they get to patent it if it's demonstrably older than that?

Re:canary trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905603)

Yep! And all of it goes back to the humble fictious entry [wikipedia.org] and trap street [wikipedia.org] as stenographic methods of catching copyright violators.

I guess the truth is that if you do it on the internet or with a computer, that's novel and non-trivial enough to patent!

Sounds familiar (4, Insightful)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905477)

Amazon also touts the use of 'alternative misspellings for selected words' as a way to provide 'evidence of copyright infringement in a legal action.'

Sabotaging your product out of fear someone might violate your copyrights. Where have we seen that [wikipedia.org] before?

If it wasn't obvious infringement prior to the changes, what's the big deal?

stonewalling their own ignorance (1)

bzuro (1205892) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905493)

why is it, that these companies do the exact opposite of the reasonable thing? and its getting worse every time. someone (we) should really do something about these things called 'patents'.

But they can't use my patented method of suing! (1, Funny)

blackbeak (1227080) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905499)

Little do they realize, I've already patented all known methods of filing lawsuits! Ha!

Canary trap (4, Informative)

dido (9125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905501)

Intelligence agencies have been doing this sort of thing for decades, giving slightly different versions of a sensitive document to suspected spies or places where possible spies might have access to it, with some subtle changes in the words, seeing which one gets leaked or appears elsewhere. Tom Clancy coined the term Canary trap [wikipedia.org] for the technique. Patriot Games was published in 1987, but its real-world use for exposing information leaks most likely predates the novel.

Re:Canary trap (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905837)

mapmakers have been doing this for decades, if not centuries...

Re:Canary trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29906175)

IIRC publishers of nautical almanacs which required a lot of manual calculation before computerisation used to insert incorrect values to catch out competiting almanacs that might have been copied rather than calculated from scratch.

Re:Canary trap (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905855)

Music scorer's have been doing it far before then. They will intentionally sharp or flat a note, and if people have that wrong as well, they sue.

Re:Canary trap (5, Informative)

jeisner (56981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905867)

Intelligence agencies have been doing this sort of thing for decades, giving slightly different versions of a sensitive document to suspected spies or places where possible spies might have access to it, with some subtle changes in the words, seeing which one gets leaked or appears elsewhere. Tom Clancy coined the term Canary trap [wikipedia.org] for the technique. Patriot Games was published in 1987, but its real-world use for exposing information leaks most likely predates the novel.

But the classic Canary Trap requires someone to modify the document manually, which is hard to do on a large scale. Here it is being done automatically by an algorithm.

However, I am aware of published methods for this problem dating back to 2001 [trnmag.com] by Mikhail Atallah at Purdue. In fact Atallah received a patent for followup work [uspto.gov] in 2007, a year after the Amazon patent was filed.

Here are a few hundred papers [snipurl.com] on the subject, via Google Scholar. Some adjust whitespace, some modify images of the text, and some attempt fairly sophisticated syntactic analysis and restructuring of selected sentences.

I apologize that I haven't read the Amazon patent, or read the prior literature carefully, or gone to law school, so I can't comment on whether the patent seems valid or not.

You know the patent system is dead when... (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905523)

I have no doubt the patent system is broken when "synonym" is an important part of a patent.

Prior Art (1)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905539)

One of my programming lecturers would do this. He told us at the start of the semester... "I have changed some small parts of the assignment from last year. If you copy last years solution ... I CATCH YOU!"

Re:Prior Art (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905589)

Yeah but did everybody get a slightly different version of the assignment?

Re:Prior Art (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905687)

I studied with a guy who did something similar. He was pretty smart and got good grades, so people would always ask to see his assignments so they could copy them. So he'd do every assignment twice - first he'd do it properly, then he'd do it wrong. He'd let other students see the wrong version, and then hand both versions in, making a note of which one was right and which one was wrong. The lecturer could then identify any copies of the wrong version by the kind of mistakes they contained.

Re:Prior Art (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905799)

Makes me wonder if the good grades were solely due to his work, and not the apparently close relationship with the lecturers.

Re:Prior Art (0, Troll)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905995)

So your friend was just a douche. And by association, you're a douche.

Theft or Fraud? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905547)

If Amazon (of the licensee of the patent) is not providing the content purchased, then they're either committing theft-by-substitution (not the same as bait-and-switch, in which the customer is actually sold an alternate product) or outright fraud by not delivering what was sold. A text product is not simply a collection of words, it's a specific selection of words in a particular order ... and spelling counts, even in the case of Lord of the Rings where Tolkien creates whole languages.

Can fraud actually be patented?

Re:Theft or Fraud? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906033)

It's not fraud. I'm sure it will be clearly explained to the reader before they are allowed to purchase it, that the work has been "Modified for copyright/rights management purposes", and that the text may have minor differences from the print version of the work

Plausible deniability? (2, Funny)

stevens (84346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905555)

I love watermarks that can be defeated with a spellchecker and a thesaurus!

Re:Plausible deniability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905697)

For exact copies (ie, scans), all they need to do is leave a few stray pencil marks on the pages. For text, just add a few extra spaces between words every now and then -- no need to change the actual words.

Re:Plausible deniability? (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905827)

Right, something like this is not hard to reprogram. You could reprogram on yourself:

Example:

Original: Johnny took a sip of his coke.
Amazon: Johnny took a sip of his pepsi.
Your Program: Johhn took a sip of his Dr. Pepper.

So much for tracking...heck it may even blame the wrong person.

Copywrite violation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905579)

Can Amazon change copywrited material at its whim without violating the AUTHORS copywrite?

1984 - changing the past (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905587)

Does this come to anyone else's mind? doublespeak? new-speak? What happens when all of shakespeare's beautiful language is changed to the same crap we see daily? good, or ungood (1984) I don't think this is the way.

Huh, so the nook won't be able to corrupt books? (4, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905593)

That thing looks better all the time.

Amazon, free tip: words matter. Especially in books.

Sounds Dodgy at Best (3, Insightful)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905627)

First, I read about this in a Tom Clancy novel in the 80s. Sounds like prior art to me. Second, if I buy a book, I expect the words in that book to be the ones the author (with the help of his editors) put there. If I buy "Tale of Two Cities" and they deliver something that starts with "It was the best of eras, it was the worst of eras," then I'm not getting what I paid for. Sounds like false advertising.

Re:Sounds Dodgy at Best (5, Funny)

reashlin (1370169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905737)

Sounds much more like Amazon infringing on copyright by selling an item subtly changed from a prior copyrighted work.

I'd like to be the first to patent.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905647)

swinging a dead cat over my head. Said patent will cover swinging the cat both clockwise and counter-clockwise as well as different species of cats. For big cats like lions and tigers the patent will cover swinging dead cats with mechanical devices. As a variant to said dead cat spinning process the patent will cover live cats as well as required protective armor for spinning live big cats.

Don't shop amazon if you like artistic integrity! (5, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905653)

A synonym is not reflective of the intent of the author.

As Al Franken points out, 'friendly' is a synonym for 'intimate', so coulter obviously stated she was having a trist with franken when asked by a reporter!

Authors choose their diction carefully, at least good ones do, and that should not be tampered with.

Lesson learned: do not shop at amazon if you respect artistic integrity.

Re:Don't shop amazon if you like artistic integrit (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905831)

I was about to say it. If they do that, I'll never buy a book at their e-shop. I don't care about watermarking that does not change the visual quality of a rendering (despite each video technology improvement shows the imperfectness of previous records ), but changing the content is not acceptable. why not change the color of the hair of actors in movie while we are at it ?

Re:Don't shop amazon if you like artistic integrit (1)

stine2469 (1349335) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906203)

Two words: Ted Turner.

Re:Don't shop amazon if you like artistic integrit (1)

mr_zorg (259994) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905859)

I can't believe they would actually try to apply this to others' works without their consent. This seems more likely to be used *by* authors. Or at least some of them in certain situations. Could definitely be useful for corporate memos, etc. to find leaks. :-)

Re:Don't shop amazon if you like artistic integrit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29906051)

They needn't change any words: They can just add duplicates of of small words and most people will never notice.

Re:Don't shop amazon if you like artistic integrit (0, Offtopic)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906237)

As Al Franken points out, 'friendly' is a synonym for 'intimate',...

Al Franken is a big fat liar who uses lies to lie. Or something like that.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905657)

The Bar Ilan Responsa Project has been doing this for quite a while now. Not by changing words to synonyms, but by adding or subtracting letters to the some of the Hebrew words in ways that they don't change pronunciation or meaning.

Birth of the Anti-Wiki? (1)

psema4 (966801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905717)

I just don't understand how they hope to apply this in any kind of sensible way. The whole idea kind of reminds me of a wiki - turned inside out.

Fiction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905721)

I'm wondering...would they be foolhardy enough to use this technique on distributed fiction? You know, like non-fiction I can maybe understand because of its emphasis on information over form, but some fiction, literature in particular, is based on poetic structure. For example, if the piece has some alliteration like "Wendy's Weird Wedding Waltz" (no, this is not a good example, just the best I can come up with right now), and this program got hold of it, "Wendy's Strange Wedding Waltz" lost some of that alliteration and possibly some literary depth. I think that if that was the case, people would be up in arms, simply because they're distributing what is essentially a plagiarized work, because it's not the author's original, but is absurdly similar.

Of course, I may not quite understand what the program will/could be used for.

Moral rights (4, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905755)

Canada and some other countries have "moral rights" which belong to the author.

Changing words without his permission could violate these rights.

In some countries these rights are inalienable and non-assignable. This means the author can't be ordered to waive them by the publisher or other copyright-holder.

Old-fashioned books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905757)

Dictionary and encyclopedia publishers often put a fake word or article in to catch copiers. See Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, the fountain designer/photographer who appears in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia despite never existing. Still, not good. I feel safer with paper.

The Authorized Amazon Version of The Bible (3, Insightful)

Tynin (634655) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905785)

And people complained about the King James version being altered. I can just picture it, 20 years from now, a group of tomorrows theologians are busy studying the Authorized Amazon Version of the Bible trying to deduce the 'real' meaning of the text/God.

Re:The Authorized Amazon Version of The Bible (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906211)

Let's hope that tomorrow's theologians actually know how to read Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew, and so are not dependent on translations, authorized or otherwise.

From an author's perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905833)

I know about this patent. They're trying to patent adding advertising into ebooks that they sell. Want to read Old Man and the Sea? Get ready for Hooters advertisements selling oysters in the page. It's sick.

I refuse to sell my ebooks through Amazon because of bullshit like this. Yes, I'm probably shooting myself in the bank for doing it, but I feel as if I should retain some integrity.

I'd rather the world pirate my ebooks, at least YOU, the reader will respect them better than Amazon will for a buck.

Re:From an author's perspective (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906089)

So.... what have you written?

Encyclopedias (1)

JesseBHolmes (1063676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905841)

It's a bad practice, but encyclopedias and dictionaries have been doing for years. See Lillian Virginia Mountweasel, the fountain designer/photographer who overcame non-existence to be featured in the 1975 New Columbia Encyclopedia as an anti-piracy measure.

If I was an author . . . (5, Insightful)

Tanman (90298) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905843)

If I was an author who had slaved a year over a book, and anyone but my editor (with my approval on each change) altered my precious words and distributed it as my work, I'd sue the pants off of them. It'd be like if someone was selling prints of my painting and changing a brush stroke. You just don't do that. Words are the author's paint.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29905857)

Prior Art in every creative writing class since, oh I don't know 500 years ago. Certainly a dozen generations before Shakespeare. Thanks Amazon, for taking a great way to be creative, and fucking kill it, claiming this form of creativity, done by others, all belongs to you, Rat Bastards. Well I'm not paying! If you try to sue, I'll sue your ass!

Thank Goodness! (1, Offtopic)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905881)

Now Tom Sawyer wont have nigger in it. Unless you want it too. And Lolita will be 'just' 18. So you can watch it legally. Lets all change words to be more acceptable to the audience right? I mean 'What fools these Mortals be' is the same as "ppl r dumb' right?

I thought of it first (1)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905887)

I was doing this with Cliff Notes 35 years ago

not all that is written is true. (1)

kras (807696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905895)

be it in stone or the internet. good luck in finding out the liar and the truthsayer.

Cartographers already do this... (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29905985)

...that is, introduce deliberate errors into their maps to detect copyright violations. Here's an example [whiterocklake.org] of an island that was simply "dropped" in the middle of a lake.

eBooks? Thanks, but I'll stick to paper. (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906007)

This is yet one more reason not to get a Kindle or buy any eBooks from Amazon.

Let me see if I got this right... (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906015)

You want to prevent piracy by altering parts to later attempt to prove it was pirated? Ok, do it. Then the pirates will just do the same and systematically substitute synonyms themselves in order to delude this technique. Sure it may not be perfect, but this sounds almost like a challenge by the industry. And you know what happens when you tempt hackers with an apple. As the saying goes, "Security through obscurity has never worked, and it never will." But I bet you can still market it to the drones who think they are paying for adequate technology. And if it reduces piracy out of sheer fear, and just gets people scared, then it is akin to "bad" publicity. Although it may be negative, it could still be considered successful.

Like the Dialectizer or the lolcat translator? (1)

Roblimo (357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906019)

Hmm? Does this mean Amazon has re-invented and patented The Dialectizer? -- http://www.rinkworks.com/dialect/ [rinkworks.com]

Or the lolcat translator? - http://speaklolcat.com/ [speaklolcat.com]

"SPEEK SOFTLY AN CARRY HOOJ STICK" -- Theodore Catavelt

"Speek sufftly und cerry a beeg steeck" -- Theobork Borkevelt

Not a Wise Practice (4, Insightful)

Frightened_Turtle (592418) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906027)

First, there is already pre-existing examples of this practice. Indeed, Tom Clancy described this very technique in one of his novels and called it, "The Smoking Word Processor."

Second, as an author, I go through quite an effort to ensure that the spelling and grammar are correct throughout any work that I created. To have Amazon completely throw away my efforts and ruin my work would really anger me. This might encourage me to inhibit Amazon from selling any of my work.

It was already done decades ago with log tables. (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906053)

Even tables of logarithms have been doing this ages ago. The preface in one table informs us that a few places where the suppressed digit is a 5, the table entry is rounded in the wrong direction. This slightly increases the potential error from 1/2 of the least significant digit to something like 0.55 of the least significant digit.

So any serious pirate group (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906057)

Acquires two copies of the work in question. Merges the differences- compares those lists and generates a copy that fingers someone else or no one.

BRILLIANT! (2, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906065)

We can set the copyright lawyers, representing the authors and publishers, against the patent lawyers representing Amazon. With any luck, they'll sue each other into the poor house and leave the rest of us alone!

Alternatively, we could establish a special court that handles these copyright vs patent cases. When all the lawyers arrive, wall the area up, cut the bridges and toss in a few spiked baseball bats to let 'em fight it out with. Maybe in New York...

Tom Clancy described this in Patriot Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29906075)

See "Canary Trap" in "Patriot Games"

How did this get through (3, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906091)

Mapmakers have been adding fictitious towns for many years (as many have commented).

People who sell lists have been doing this for many years. (Who's Who, for example, adds a few fictitious people for this purpose, and I believe so do the Yellow Pages.)

People trying to catch spies have been doing this for many years. (I first heard about this during the Thatcher years in the UK, and it wasn't new then.)

So, how, exactly is this new and non-obvious ?

So they patented paraphrasing? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906101)

Wow.... just, wow.

Water goats... (1)

marciot (598356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906129)

Great. I'm looking forward to a whole new crop of engineering textbooks with references to "water goats" instead of "hydraulic rams"

The mousetrap (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906207)

This idea has been around forever - and it works.

The plagerist - the infringer - is almost by defintion a lazy son of a bitch. Reviewing text line-by-line. The movie frame-by-frame. That's hard.

Uhm copyright violation through derivative work (2, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906243)

Unless they have specific permission from the owner of the copyright work for any such modification. Any operation such as this would be an unauthorized derivative work and be in violation of the original copyright. The variations would be derivative works, not works in their own rights. Their creation would have to be authorized by the owner of the original copyright material.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_work [wikipedia.org]

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies...; (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; (3) to distribute copies...of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending....

Re:Uhm copyright violation through derivative work (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906269)

So those who want to self-publish through Amazon better read that agreement very carefully...

Re:Uhm copyright violation through derivative work (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906285)

Yes, but this is likely happening on the Internet, a pretty much law-free, consequences free zone. Nobody on the Internet pays much attention to copyright, so it is only realistic that corporations are going to start taking advantage of this.

If Russian hackers can steal your bank account and nobody can do much about it, expect to see Sony stealing your music compositions and selling them on the Internet soon. If college kids can download movies, expect Netflix to start downloading them and offering them for rental. Should it surprise anyone that Amazon might be doing something with books that might be questionable?

Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29906259)

I seem to remember Tom Clancy using this in one of his Jack Ryan books about a decade ago. Called the 'canary trap'. Used to mark copies of classified documents. When the leaked document was analyzed, the specific source copy could be traced to catch the leak.

The logical progression (5, Insightful)

Impeesa (763920) | more than 4 years ago | (#29906279)

If this becomes widespread, here's how it'll go: first, pirate groups will only have to pay for/obtain a couple extra copies, and come up with an automated reconstruction system that will compare the copies and perform error correction. Then the publishers will start obfuscating things more and more, and the pirate groups will develop more and more advanced algorithms. Eventually, the publishers will be publishing near-100% noise, with their heads too far up their asses to realize it, the only people buying copies will be the dedicated pirate groups, who will afford it by charging for their services, and before you know it, "content miners" will just be another step in the chain. The establishment is just last generation's rebels, am I right?
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