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IBM patents new printer that checks for copyright violations

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May 18, 2016

Earlier today, IBM said it has filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a patent on a new printer that checks for any potential copyright violations before it starts printing.

The IT giant's new patent application describes a device that can check print jobs for text or images that have already been copyrighted, and then delete or block the infringing content from being printed.

"The computer, in response to identifying any text, images, or formatting indicative of potential copyrighted material, identifies protected material within the file," Big Blue's application reads.

"The computer determines whether the file may be printed based on the identified potential copyrighted material," IBM asserts.

The company notes that in addition to simply checking for infringing or copied content, the device could also take into account additional factors such as licensing types, ownership rights, and number of prints allowed for a single document.

The proposed system would pair the copyright-conscious printer with a server holding the copyright database itself.

Upon receiving a print job, the printer would then query the database to check for possible infringement.

Surprisingly, the application was filed way back on April 15 of last year. The inventors are Sasikanth Eda, Deepak Ghuge, Sridhar Puvvala, and Riyazahamad Shiraguppi, all working for IBM in India.

But keep in mind that patent applications are usually filed extremely early in the development process, and often the technologies described never reach the market in any form.

Nevertheless, it's not difficult to see a practical application for the copyright-conscious printers in environments such as libraries or schools, where system administrators would seek to limit the possibility of copyright infringement from users wanting to print out partial or entire works.

Source: Microsoft.

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