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This post brought to you by the number (redacted for copyright).

Call it a bug, an oversight, or someone just having a really freaking bad programming day. Whatever you call it, somebody at Google screwed up in a very weird, but also very hilarious, way.

I’m not sure if it’s been fixed since, but you can apparently trigger a copyright violation by putting one number in an otherwise empty text file and uploading that text file to Google Drive. Apparently… it’s quite reproduceable.

Google Drive is flagging text files that only contain a “1” or “0” as copyright infringements. These seemingly harmless bits are automatically targeted by the storage platform’s filtering algorithm, apparently for a terms of service violation. As if that’s not drastic enough, there is no option to challenge this arbitrary decision.

Either copyright just done turned upside down while I was sleeping/freezing/being buried by the usual Ottawa snowfall, or somebody’s up for a not so hot performance review.

Hey, I mean I get it. Automation’s cool. And in theory, automated copyright protection’s an amazing idea. And when it goes right, it’s even an amazing idea in practice. When it goes wrong, though?

If your bot thinks a single digit is somehow copyright infringement, then your bot is a bad bot and should be taken behind the woodshed and humanely sent to bot-heaven where it can run and frolic with all the other bots.

Look, guys. I’m a fan of the whole work smarter, not harder idea. But copyright is dumb, and copyright protection bots are braindead. And also the number 1 is not protected by squat, much less copyright. If your bot can’t understand that, then

  1. You’re probably doing something very, very wrong.
  2. See above and put your bot out of our misery.

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