https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CsYtensv94&t=1h48m30s

Tobi Hahn: Hi, I’m Tobi. I’m @rainshapes on Twitter.

I made a bot called @corruptum, and he uses a lot of copy­right­ed con­tent in his cor­pus, so I was won­der­ing whether it was legal and whether its use qual­i­fied as Fair Use.

https://​mobile​.twit​ter​.com/​c​o​r​r​u​p​t​u​m​/​s​t​a​t​u​s​/​413444762965118976

This is the bot. This is prob­a­bly its best tweet ever. It takes some char­ac­ters from one source and some char­ac­ters from anoth­er source and puts them togeth­er to kind of put them togeth­er in a weird way.

Moving on to Fair Use, most of the copy­right­ed con­tent that it con­tains isn’t iden­ti­fi­able in the con­text of the tweets, except for 10 PRINT, which it uses a lot of the bib­li­og­ra­phy of, for some rea­son. I don’t real­ly remem­ber why I put that there. Just for a while when I was work­ing on this bot, when I found some­thing on the Internet I would just paste it in and that was how it went.

https://​mobile​.twit​ter​.com/​c​o​r​r​u​p​t​u​m​/​s​t​a​t​u​s​/​526576561827627008

This is from a Roman guide book. It says from silk, China received nuts, sesame seeds and grapes from Persia, spices Mantua, ran the small­er city-states” That’s from a his­to­ry book that I put into it, and when you search that in Google, it comes up with noth­ing. So it’s real­ly dif­fi­cult to dis­cern that this is a piece of copy­right­ed con­tent.

vlc-01_50_07-2015-05-18-06h50m20s849

But in terms of Fair Use, I think it would qual­i­fy as Fair Use. It’s kind of jux­ta­pos­ing two dif­fer­ent sources togeth­er to cre­ate a pas­tiche, and there’s some legal prece­dence for it. On the left, this is Yes Rasta” by Patrick Cariou, and this is Graduation” by Richard Prince, and Cariou sued Prince for his use of his art­work in Graduation” but [Prince] won in an appeal because the court found that this use was trans­for­ma­tive. So I think if the uses of the source are jux­ta­posed in a way that lets you cre­ate a new read­ing and way to look at the sources, then it could be Fair Use.

If for some rea­son some­one man­aged to fig­ure out that it was using copy­right­ed mate­r­i­al and decid­ed that they did not want it used in the bot, they would have to file a DMCA request to Twitter. Twitter’s received about 10,000 of them in six months, and about 76% of the mate­r­i­al affect­ed by the take­down requests were removed. Only 18 counter-notices were sent and 100% of them were suc­cess­ful. So I think that if some­one were to con­test the bot’s use of it, I don’t think the DMCA take­down would be suc­cess­ful. And accord­ing to the DMCA, the per­son send­ing the take­down request has to con­sid­er the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Fair Use before send­ing the request.

And that’s all I have. Thank you. But I some dis­cus­sion ques­tions. How much do you think a bot would have to alter its cor­pus for it to be trans­for­ma­tive? If it just had one source and it fed it through a Markov chain, could that poten­tial­ly count as a trans­for­ma­tive use?


Darius Kazemi: Thank you for the prompt there. We have some time for dis­cus­sion for this. Nick

Nick Montfort: A num­ber of legal fac­tors [inaudi­ble] short phras­es are not afford­ed copy­right pro­tec­tion and what exact­ly a short phrase means is a ques­tion that requires some legal research and that is prob­a­bly not entire­ly clear. But that would also be an issue for tak­ing lit­tle bits of text and using them in a bot.

Erin McKean: It has some bear­ing, how long the source text is. So that’s why a line from a song lyric is often more con­tentious than a line from War and Peace.

Nick: And also how aggres­sive the intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty own­ers are.

Erin: Yeah.

[Inaudible EM/NM cross-talk]

[The Audience #” com­ments below are from peo­ple off-screen. Tried to keep them all dis­tinct, but there may be errors in attri­bu­tion.]

Audience 1: I’m an awful per­son. I don’t remem­ber who actu­al­ly made the Top Gun-tweeting robot.

Darius: That’s Ramsey Nasser.

Audience 1: Because I remem­ber that got DMCA’d. I just don’t know if Ramsay nev­er sent an [appel­la­tion?] or if that was—

Darius: I don’t think he filed a counter-claim, but we could ask. He’s not in the chat.

Audience 1: It’s the only thing I’m aware of that I’ve actu­al­ly seen that hap­pen to in the bot com­mu­ni­ty.

Darius: For those who don’t know, Ramsay’s Top Gun bot was called 555 µHz and it basi­cal­ly sam­pled the movie Top Gun once every twenty-four frames and showed each frame of the movie, with sub­ti­tles. So over time, in the­o­ry, it’s like watch­ing Top Gun over the course of six months or some­thing. His idea was that it was trans­for­ma­tive, and who­ev­er owns it, Warner or I for­got who owns it, was like, No. This is not trans­for­ma­tive, you’re just show­ing the movie very slow­ly.” Paramount, it’s Paramount. Thank you Zach in chat.

Audience 1: I have a relat­ed ques­tion. I won­der if you know the nature of those DMCA requests. Like how many of them were for exam­ple URLs to pirat­ed con­tent, or some­thing like that.

Tobi: I think there was a lot of them and I remem­ber there were sta­tis­tics in Twitter’s trans­paren­cy report that showed how many were images and how many were links but I don’t remem­ber them all off the top of my head.

Audience 2: But is the copy­right­ed con­tent in the tweet?

Audience 1: I’m curi­ous how many of those were pure text, for exam­ple.

Darius: Right, where the tweet itself was the copy­right­ed con­tent ver­sus just link­ing to pirat­ed stuff. That’s an inter­est­ing ques­tion as well. It’d be inter­est­ing to see a study, if pos­si­ble, of all the DMCA stuff, if it’s even avail­able. People are men­tion­ing Chilling Effects in the IRC chat. That’s a web­site that tracks these take­down notices, so maybe that could be mined for more infor­ma­tion about this.

Brett O’Connor: This isn’t real­ly a legal-related thing, but I do recall once see­ing a tweet to Olivia Taters, Rob’s bot, that was some­one say­ing, Why did you just take my words and then mix them up.” I’m won­der­ing if any­body has had any­body con­tact them—

Darius: That hap­pens all the time with my bots. I have one called Professor Jocular that finds tweets that are Favstar fave of the day, so they’re usu­al­ly jokes, and then attempts to make a real­ly poor descrip­tion of why it’s fun­ny. I don’t @-reply peo­ple because that would get flagged for spam, but I do .@-reply their names so that there’s at least some kind of attri­bu­tion going on there. So I try to attribute, but still peo­ple respond and they’re just like, Tweet steal­er! Joke steal­er.” Because there’s this whole—especially in com­e­dy Twitter—there’s this whole who stole whose joke, who was the first one to tell this Twitter joke, all that sort of thing. And some­times it’s not steal­ing, it’s just a real­ly awful, banal joke that any­one has come up with mul­ti­ple times. Other times there are real­ly great, fun­ny peo­ple on Twitter whose jokes then just get stolen by those TED par­o­dy accounts, so yeah. I get it all the time.

I’ve seen it hap­pen more than once to Olivia, and basi­cal­ly any­thing that sources text that is then re-presented in an iden­ti­fi­able form, it’s pos­si­ble some­one will find that and use it. I like Allison’s Pizza Clones. [It] does an inter­est­ing thing with attri­bu­tion where you embed the tweets that you’re tak­ing the text from, right?

Allison Parrish: Yeah. I don’t know if that’s the best way to do it but [inaudi­ble]

Darius: It’s inter­est­ing. And Olivia faves as attri­bu­tion. That’s why Olivia faves your tweets some­times. It means your tweet has been added to her [puls­ing?] data­base.

Audience 3: But that’s prob­a­bly what alerts the user.

Darius: Right, it does.

Audience 3: So that’s kind of cool.

Audience 4: By follow-up, 555 µHz, Ramsay did not do a counter-claim. Because he was­n’t sure about his options and the process seemed to be extreme­ly con­fus­ing.

Further Reference

Darius Kazemi’s home page for Bot Summit 2014, with YouTube links to indi­vid­ual ses­sions, and a log of the IRC chan­nel.


Help Support Open Transcripts

If you found this useful or interesting, please consider supporting the project monthly at Patreon or once via Cash App, or even just sharing the link. Thanks.