Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Over on Scott Aaronson's blog there's been a lively discussion about a knotty problem. Aaronson is a computer scientist interested in quantum computing (which I always think of as something pertaining to a rather distant future) and therefore quantum mechanics.

Well, back in October Scott found that a couple of lines from lectures he's published on the web constitute the entire script for an Australian ad for Ricoh printers. You really owe it to yourself to see the ad on YouTube. He's not quite sure what he should do about it. Hundreds of people have made suggestions in comments and I suggest you go over there and give your prejudices an exercise. Somebody has already contributed a comment that will raise your ire.

Opinion there polarized around two positions: one, that Scott should not be such an uptight American about intellectual property and feel complimented or something that his words got out there; and two, nobody (the ad agency) should be making money with his stuff when they didn't even ask permission.

I can see both sides, since I have plenty of lectures on the web. I don't know if anyone's ever stolen them (for term papers?). I'm glad to have my stuff out there to be read, but on the other hand...

An interesting problem indeed.

1 comment:

  1. A few years back one of my students pretty much wholesale reproduced one of your lectures on Medieval England. The student footnoted you at the end of every paragraph, but I pointed out that the assignment was for the student to actually write a synthetic analysis, not appropriate someone else's, however many citations they provided.