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Are you legally allowed to copy the contents of these textbooks? If I recall there is often on the first page of textbooks long legal texts which prohibits copying of any kind without written consent from the authors.

What our algorithm does is, we convolute the text from the textbooks to create questions such as "How did Hitler die?" from texts like "In August 1945, Hitler killed himself." from the textbook. So usually, that ends up being significantly different to the original texts in the textbook.

Copyright laws typically prohibit both identical copies, which appear to be done here by users during image processing / OCR even if only transitory, as well as derivatives of the copy. So the question then becomes, is this "fair use"?

If the use case for the app is personal use by the possessors of the textbook, very likely no problem. For all other uses you should consult a lawyer to make sure you're in the clear.

> as well as derivatives of the copy

Shouldn't this imply that it's illegal for me to make quizzes on my own from information I found in a textbook? If this app is implemented correctly, what it does should be indistinguishable from a human. It makes no sense to change the infringement status of a work based on how the work was produced.

Also, generally hard facts (like when Hitler died or how Hitler killed himself) are not copyrightable.

I don't know how you are doing this, but with NNs there's still be the chance that result contains significant parts of the text-books. I am not a lawyer, but because you are only interested in the syntactic equality (the sematic being the same) i think a simple algorithm like something based on edit-distance may be able to exclude such cases.

IIRC and IANAL, but, copyright laws are about reproducing text, e.g. taking this text and republishing it without consent of the copyright holder. In this case that does not apply; while the app does copy the text (and possibly sends it to their servers), this text is not republished.

Copyright law apples, not the first page legal looking text. They can make any claims they want to on the first page, but that has no legal standing in court. This quiz almost undoubtedly fall under fair use.

Of course if you need legal advice you need to consult a lawyer.

Would you consider this a "Derivative Work" in a legal sense though?

I would consider it an education use which puts it into a whole other area of copyright law.

I don't think it's copying verbatim, it might be caching it for a short while but not saving it (based on what I'm reading about the technology).

So the more interesting question here: is a computer legally allowed to generate an original interpretation of text on a page?

The user of the app is still copying the text verbatim and transferring it to the server, which is distributing.

Not exactly.

A. They probably cache only for a little while B. They aren't republishing it

The company isn't. The user is still distributing.

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