Automatic captions and derivative works

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Today, I was showing a bunch of colleagues how to use YouTube's auto-captioning feature, and letting people do some demo videos. My colleagues recorded videos of themselves reading poetry, or reciting song lyrics - and those videos are probably technically derivative works!

But the captions themselves are derivatives of the videos - so when your initial video is itself a derivative work, the captions are a derivative of a derivative... (Captionception!)  Theoretically, the videos themselves could be infringing - in which case, creating the captions might itself be infringing! Horrors!!!*

Anyway, one of the transcripts is so -extremely incorrect-** that I'm wondering if it could really be called a derivative work at all. Technically, it is of course "derivative", in that it is a poem re-rendered in text by transcription of a recorded recitation. But here's the transcript - can you tell what the poem is???

called fast injuries forestry in style i
says a broken remembered that cannot buy
house passed a jury instrument reinstall
life as a parent
field trials in the snow

I will even add line breaks for you in the appropriate places:

called fast injuries
forestry in style
i says a broken remembered
that cannot buy

house passed a jury
instrument reinstall
life as a parent field
trials in the snow

What do you think? Derivative work? Masterpiece of computer-generated absurdist original art?? (Can unintentional computer-generated anything truly be considered original???) Now I'm just making my own brain hurt.

*I do not think anything we did today was in fact even remotely plausibly infringing.
** The auto-caption feature is usually much better than this - it was recorded in a loud room with a lot of background noise.

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This page contains a single entry by nasims published on November 29, 2012 3:40 PM.

Extremely off-topic: cold-weather bike gear was the previous entry in this blog.

Negotiation: Getting past some of the barriers we erect for ourselves is the next entry in this blog.

I'm Nancy Sims, the Copyright Program Librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries.

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