Stealing other people’s writing just got harder

Stealing other people’s writing just got harder

Photo by jurgenfr via Plagiarism has exploded in the Covid-19 age. As more people worked from home and attended classes via Zoom, without direct in-person supervision, the temptation to co-opt someone else’s work has grown exponentially, as have ever more sophisticated ways to copy another person’s work.

Tricks like replacing a letter like “o” with a similar looking character in a non-Latin alphabet or using “invisible” text highlighted in white to outsmart current copyright detection programs have become commonplace.

The average percentage of plagiarism before and after Covid increased from 26% to 45% in The Netherlands, from 37% to 49% in France and from 42% to 53% in India, according to a survey of 51,000 college and high school students conducted by anti-plagiarism software maker CopyLeaks .

The solution is not more of the same – where software checks a database for copied words and paragraphs – but the use of artificial intelligence (AI) that doesn’t just compare words to words but also “meaning for meaning,” explains Alon Yamin, CEO of CopyLeaks.

The scrappy Israeli startup is used by schools and organizations around the world, including Macmillan Publishers, Stanford University, the BBC, Medium, the National Space Society, the United Nations, Cisco and Accenture, as well as by students, bloggers and journalists.

CopyLeaks’ extensive client list reveals not only how widely its software can be used but how pervasive the plagiarism problem has become.

Schools may be the top use case for anti-plagiarism tools, but publications and book publishers can also use CopyLeaks to ensure their writers haven’t misappropriated – even accidentally – someone else’s work (journalists, for example, will often paraphrase text from another article, assuming they’ve made enough changes to make it their own; if not, the publication could be subject to legal action).

Misuse of content

Companies developing corporate websites are another source of potential clients for companies like CopyLeaks. Here the benefit is in reverse – has someone else copied your work?

The latter is how cofounder and CopyLeaks CTO Yehonatan Bitton found his calling in the anti-plagiarism space.

In 2013, Bitton was developing content for a family-owned website when he found it was being copied by competing sites. The theft was frustrating, but even worse, these multiple sources of identical content were driving the site’s search rankings down, negatively impacting sales.

Bitton looked for a software solution to detect such misuse of content but couldn’t find any. He subsequently floated the idea of building something that could solve his problem to Yamin, his then work colleague and fellow graduate of the IDF’s 8200 signal intelligence unit.

Yamin was instrumental in developing AI and machine learning-powered algorithms for Israeli army intelligence; it was that technology that became the basis for CopyLeaks. CopyLeaks CEO Alon Yamin and CTO Yehonatan Bitton. Photo courtesy of CopyLeaks Promoting authenticity Some 70 million instances of copyright infringement were uncovered by CopyLeaks’ technology from 75 million pages scanned and 58 million documents compared.CopyLeaks uses AI to understand a writer’s “voice.” That goes beyond just the words, where automated tools “can play […]

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