Interesting piece in the WSJ about a start-up in redwood city, called Attributor.
Attributor analyzes the content of clients, who could range from individuals to big media companies, using a technique known as “digital fingerprinting,” which determines unique and identifying characteristics of content. It uses these digital fingerprints to search its index of the Web for the content. The company claims to be able to spot a customer’s content based on the appearance of as little as a few sentences of text or a few seconds of audio or video. It will provide customers with alerts and a dashboard of identified uses of their content on the Web and the context in which it is used.
The company is looking to ensure that all content reproduction or other uses are properly attributed and paid for. This sounds fantastic…although a bit hard to believe. I guess the content fingerprint is based on analysis of each piece of content and match is based on matching unattributed pieces to the original pieces via a search. What happens if the somebody just modifies a verb in the unattributed content? Would Attributor be able to catch that? May be they just do a statistical analysis of the content? I am really curious to find out more.
Wouldn’t a writer fingerprint be a better and more workable idea? I can imagine a writer having a fingerprint in terms of favorite words, syntax etc. Such a system will be able to handle situation such as one being discussed by Valleywag and VentureBeat. Also such a system could be very useful in social media as a way to establish identity of a user.
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I read the same article the other day. At first I was skeptical, but companies could use this technology as a tool to find potential matches, then a human could research further. This makes more sense and will likely be their pitch.
The big question is not how but WHEN a system like this is abused?