Spotted by Eriq Gardner over at The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has applied for a patent measuring how accurate reporters are. From the patent abstract:
The methods and systems take into account a multiplicity of approaches to reputation determination and integrates them together in a way that determines not only a reputation index but a veracity scale on which to gauge that reputation. The system proposed herein will create reputation indices based on input from other participants in the ecosystem taking into account the weighting of the value of the input of the various participants based on their credibility as applied to the judgment at hand. The system will also take into account temporal components, the historical value of the work, passive input based on usage behavior, comments by casual observers as well as independent assessment in public fora. The system is able to be applied to journalists and their work to generate a veracity scale for articles.
While I’m sure many can see the value in actually rating journalists on how accurate/truthful their reporting is, the idea that a rating system like this should be patentable is fairly ridiculous. I mean:
Like anyone wouldn’t have come up with such a system if there wasn’t patent protections?
Separately, as the EFF’s Vera Ranieri asks, it’s questionable whether or not granting such a patent would be consistent with the First Amendment. Remember, just a month ago, a top judge at the Federal Circuit appeals court (the place where all patent case appeals go to) noted that patents could be rejected on First Amendment grounds if “they are allowed to obstruct the essential channels of scientific, economic, and political discourse.” So if this patent were granted, and (bizarrely) it excluded others from ranking the accuracy of journalists — would that violate the First Amendment?
Hopefully the patent office rejects this patent application entirely and we never have to find out.