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Autonomy drops ACID test for copyrighted media

'Tagging is like car parks in the wilderness'

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Autonomy has criticized Silicon Valley's Web 2.0 obsession with tagging to classify data, while launching its own software to help media companies scan web sites for pirated content.

The enterprise search specialist has launched its Automatic Copyright Infringement Detection (ACID) software, which it claimed is capable of scanning any online voice or video content to identify the original material regardless of changes or edits.

ACID, which runs on top of Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL), does not use metadata but searches pictures and sounds by meticulously analyzing things such as noise level, vocabulary, time stamps and graphics. Copyright holders can search and compare content with originals, according to Autonomy.

Launching ACID in San Francisco, Autonomy founder and chief executive Mike Lynch said the IT industry must respond properly to the rising tide of unstructured data, such as video. The desire to apply structure to unstructured data, and reliance on tags and metadata, are not the answers, he said.

According to Lynch, metadata is flawed because it doesn't apply the necessary context to the desired search results. Tagging is limited because it relies on the dedication of end-users to assign tags, but users often forget or mess up their tagging duties, making tag-based searches a flawed exercise.

"The industry obsession with structure and tagging is fundamentally wrong," Lynch said. "It's like the idea we can tame the wilderness by building car parks over it."

Lynch said the IT industry had to help people find what's useful to them. "We see a lot of VC dollars going into social search but people haven't looked into the limitations," he said.

Autonomy claims there's a growing market for context-based search. Its proof is the growth in its OEM business - licensing software to companies including middleware giants BEA Systems, Oracle and IBM - which rose 300 per cent in the last year. The typical engagement seems to be Autonomy-powered search of unstructured information provided for customers through the middleware companies’ portals.

Ultimately, Lynch's industry vision is for a kind of relational database handling information by virtue of its meaning. "We have to step up and make an attempt to understand the meaning of unstructured information," he said.®

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