From the Director of ICT – Artificial Intelligence Detects Copyright Infringement of the Moon!

As a technology trailblazer I am all for the advancement and evolution of the planet we currently inhabit. Earlier this year I wrote a hard-hitting thought-provoking Blue Ribbon piece demystifying the – umm myths surrounding artificial intelligence (A.I).

For some, A.I is a new evil. Hollywood director James Cameron and his The Terminator movie franchise have a lot to answer for – establishing the unfortunate stigma bested upon A.I.

For those of you born post 1990, The Terminator is a science fiction action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son will one day save mankind from extinction from hostile artificial intelligence. Pretty cool movies but it is not what A.I is designed to do – extinguish the Earth.

No doubt you read my previous article and now know A.I is changing the way we live, making tasks that we do today easier and more efficient than ever before. However, A.I is still evolving and does not always get it right.

Last week, I came across a fascinating blog from a site I frequent, dedicated to copyright law. Hey, do not judge me, lockdowns and Premier Andrews are doing strange things to me! The blog detailed a story about Facebook blocking a video of the moon because it breached copyright. Sounds weird? Read on.

British filmmaker Philip Bloom recently filmed the moon in Greece. After sharing it on social media, he was surprised when the video was blocked due to a claim by Universal Music Group, claiming copyright to the generic shots of the moon.

Being a budding photographer myself (which you would also know if you read my other Blue Ribbon pieces), Bloom shot the footage on his Sony Alpha 1 mirrorless camera using a Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens – but those details is not important right now and has no relevance on the story. I simply mention it for others like me who are interested in photography equipment. Now, let’s get back on track.

Soon after the video was uploaded to Facebook, Bloom was met with a notice stating, “your video is blocked and cannot be viewed in 249 locations.” The reason for the block? There was a copyright infringement claim by Universal Music Group, the global music corporation. The A.I system used by the social media giant detected the moon video as a copyright breach. Apparently the “video matches 30 seconds of video owned by UMG.”

If you did not know, many social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter use artificial intelligence systems together and machine learning to scan and check every post and content for copyright, fraud and other breaches of laws in countries that allow these social media platforms.

“I uploaded some shots of the moon to Facebook earlier last year, shot with the Canon R5 but it was only a picture of 2/3rds of the moon,” Bloom said. “It looks like their (Facebook) A.I is looking for full moon shots.”

Many A.I. adversaries will say this is a failure in the technology. A.I simply did not work because how can anyone have copyright of the moon? I would have to agree. I am baffled by the fact that a simple shot of the moon could be flagged for copyright infringement. How can UGM own licensing rights over the moon? But it does raise questions about the A.I. being used on Facebook… unless they actually have bought the moon?

Upon further research I discovered that UGM claimed copyright of a music video which contained a short video of the moon in the music video. UGM did not copyright the moon, just the video. The Facebook A.I system was doing what it was programmed to do – detect copyright claims. It just so happens that the programming algorithm was at error.

Here is another fun fact – at St Catherine’s we utilise A.I in our Learning Management System to detect plagiarism and copyright in work students submit online, with the program Turnitin. Just so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings we prefer to call this a “similarity’ check.

The A.I scans the submitted work in real time and searches a database of the internet for the original source and author. The submitted work is then allocated a “similarity” percentage score. This score informs the teacher how much of the work submitted was ‘copied’ from the internet. As you can imagine this is a powerful tool for teachers.

As an experiment I submitted this article through Turnitin to demonstrate how much of this article I copied from the internet. Admittingly, I took some quotes from the blog source for my article. I will credit the blog below for transparency’s sake.

So, what is the end result? How much of this writing piece was copied from the internet? I know how excited you are to find out so let’s not tease this out any longer.

Drum roll please (insert rolling of the tongue sound here)…my plagiarism score is 7%. Now, the real question here is; did I pass or should I be blocked?

But I know what you are really thinking – John, for goodness sake, get a life!

Mr John Toulantas, Director of ICT