"Text Copying" — Next?

Electronic Snoops Tackle Copiers

New markets are finally opening up for plagiarism-detection software, a mainstay of academia that has struggled to expand its reach beyond term papers.

[…] But experts say the biggest potential market might be the publishing industry, which one day may find itself coping with the same kind of piracy that bedevils movie makers and music producers.

Some law firms are already using one type of technology “to essentially troll the Internet for the next Stephen Ambrose,” said plagiarism-detection software developer John Barrie, referring to the late historian accused of peppering his bestsellers with snippets stolen from other people’s work.

[…] [Plagiarism-detection software developer John Barrie] predicts that text piracy will soon haunt authors and their publishers.

“With books beginning to become digitized … and with a generation of readers growing up using a computer to read their journal articles and books, the publishing industry is about to be visited upon by a problem the likes of which will make the music industry’s problem look like a baby’s game,” Barrie said.

[…] “I’d caution anyone against jumping to conclusions based on what the software spits out,” said Wendy Seltzer, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There can be legitimate reasons for parallelism between two works, when neither has come in contact with the other.”

She adds that not every case of text borrowing is a copyright infringement. Book reviewers, for example, would find themselves out of business if it wasn’t for the principle of fair use, which allows writers and broadcasters to excerpt copyright material in order to comment on it. “False claims or misguided claims are as much of a problem as actual infringements,” Seltzer said.

As for plagiarism, “you can say (an action) is ethically and morally wrong, but there may be no law against it,” she said.

Well, in this climate, that’s just the rationale that’s needed to get cracking on writing one, isn’t it?

See also: Reuters Uses Search Against Copyright Abuse {via EFF MiniLinks]