For the most part, accurate plagiarism detection is currently limited to text content. iThenticate allows publishers, law firms, corporations and others to accurately scan massive databases for duplicate and plagiarized content.
What does the future hold for software like this?
I’d like to examine three sectors that could benefit from a similar plagiarism checker product – art, music, and video. All of these industries currently have a number of outstanding legal cases and disputes over plagiarized content. With the right technology, plagiarism in all of these fields could be minimized through detection and checking prior to distribution.
The music industry is notorious for having big profile cases of allegedly plagiarized songs. Just to name a few of the artists involved in disputes: Coldplay, Huey Lewis, Madonna and Timbaland. Many of these cases may in fact not involve deliberate plagiarism. Most musicians pull from a number of inspirations and certain riffs or tunes could inevitably end up getting mimicked.
An effective music plagiarism checker could prevent any accidental copying by detecting duplicate riffs or tunes prior to distribution. Just as it makes sense for publishers to run any of their content through a plagiarism checker before distribution, it also would be logical for record labels to do the same.
Art distribution is another sector that could benefit from plagiarism technology that could potentially scan a piece and compare it to a database for exact or similar elements. Although there is a lot of ‘grey’ areas in art and it could be argued that similar styles lead to similar end products, it couldn’t hurt for a company to scan their product before distribution.
A recent case in the news highlights a UK stationary chain called Paperchase getting accused by an independent artist of plagiarizing her design on a number of their notebooks and apparel products. Paperchase denied the accusation and claimed they bought the design from a reputable London design company. Whether they are guilty or not, if Paperchase had the technology to check all the artwork they were applying to products, they could potentially avoid disputes like this.
The technology to scan digital video for specific content is evolving rapidly. Services that can check videos for products, actors, and more are on the rise. This same technology could be modified and utilized prior to video distribution to prevent any unwanted cases of duplicate content.
In the online video sector, clips are often re-used and appended to another video without proper attribution to the original filmmaker. Video mash ups that take from various sources are commonplace. As the online video industry formulates its business model – adopting a plagiarism prevention technology that could detect duplicate video content across the web (and beyond) would be highly beneficial.
Green, Chris. “Paperchase forced to deny it copied artist’s work after Twitter backlash” The Independent 11 Feb. 2010 http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/paperchase-forced-to-deny-it-copied-artists-work-after-twitter-backlash-1896894.html