Don't call Wolfram Alpha a search engine. Billed by its creators at Wolfram Research as a "computational knowledge engine," Wolfram Alpha uses mathematical techniques to cross-reference myriad specialized databases, producing unique results for each query. For example, query Wolfram Alpha for "San Francisco New York elevation" and you get back a page explaining that, at 52 feet above sea level, San Francisco is 60 percent higher than New York. (The same query at Google yields links to airline ticketing sites, a review of a pilates studio in San Francisco, and a blurb about a New York burger joint.)
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In other words, Wolfram Research is claiming that each page of results returned by the Wolfram Alpha engine is a unique, copyrightable work, like a report or term paper. That makes Wolfram Alpha different not just from classic search engines, but from most software. While software companies routinely retain sole ownership of their software and license it to users, Wolfram Research has taken the additional step of claiming ownership of the output of the software itself. It's a bold assertion, and one that could have significant ramifications for the software industry as a whole.