Without copyright, people in the creative industries would have no incentive to keep on creating. In recent years this kind of statement has been regularly pumped out by entertainment companies in their defense of tougher intellectual property legislation.
Countering, advocates such as Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge frequently argue that copyright monopolies stifle creativity and hinder innovation.
But what would happen if rather than providing an incentive to create, the existence of copyright meant that no-one would ever need to create anything original online ever again? And if they did, they could be sued for it?
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 are 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 worrying claim on the Qentis homepage
“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.”
In terms of graphics, Qentis promotional material states that a subsidiary has already generated 3.23% of “all possible images” in the 1000×800 pixel format.
“We are now generating images at a much faster pace and expect to complete 10 percent of all possible images by the end of 2015. At current projections, we will by 2020 generate every possible image in the 1000×800 pixel resolution,” the company claims.
Of course, ‘creating’ this ‘content’ has a purpose. According to Qentis it effectively seeks to become the biggest copyright troll on the planet. The company says it will identify copyright infringements and help investors to pursue infringers. And, astonishingly, it claims it will free companies from having to rely on people to come up with creative content.
“It is only a matter of time before Qentis becomes the universal single source for all web content, freeing corporations from their expensive dependence on writers, musicians and artists,” says Qentis co-founder Howard Lafarge.
TF spoke with Rick Falkvinge about Qentis’ stated aims and needless to say he’s completely unimpressed.
“Interesting, and complete bullshit,” Rick said.
“They claim to have generated all possible texts in English that are up to 400 words in length, and therefore, any text below that length ‘infringes’. However, having the copyright monopoly on a text is solidly dependent on having had artistic skill gone into generating it. Merely mechanically generating all combinations does not, repeat NOT, reward a copyright monopoly.”
Having spent way more time on the Qentis website than we probably should, (and arriving at the conclusion that they’re either crazy, evil geniuses or masters of parody) we’re still left with an interesting concept.
The fact remains that there are plenty of huge, heavily pro-copyright corporations on the planet today who would happily embark on a Qentis-style operation of copyrighting all content before a human can create it, if indeed such a thing was possible. Rest assured, at that point the ‘artists’ would be a forgotten and inconvenient part of their business models.
“The mere concept that somebody thinks of generating all possible texts and then thinks they can sue humanity for coming up with one of these combinations through actual artistic talent shows how completely screwed up copyright monopoly law is,” Rick concludes.
Since Qentis claims to have come up with the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ before she did, TF pressed Qentis to give us more examples where their creations have successfully predicted the future. The company couldn’t immediately give us any, but said there were “many more” to be found.
We also asked about the mathematical implications of coming up with every available combination of text in a 400 word article, given there are one million words in the English language alone. How many generated articles would be a ‘miss’ in trying to come up with one ‘hit’?
“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.
“We do not include entities in the text as it does not matter and we concentrate on the structure of the text. Using known or predicted combinations is more economical, the main challenge is storage and not so much generating text.”
For those interested in reading just how bad things could get on the copyright front, given the chance, the fully comprehensive and quite incredible Qentis website can be found here. We’re not sure what their endgame is, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they have a secret underground base.
Everyone is invited to comment below, scholars of copyright and mathematics in particular.