http://www.plagiarism.org and http://www.Turnitin.com
Latin kidnapped word "plagion" from ancient Greek and it ended up in English as "plagiarism". It literally means "to kidnap" - most commonly, to misappropriate content and wrongly attribute it to oneself. It is a close kin of piracy. But while software or content pirate does not bother to hide or alter identity of content's creator or software's author - plagiarist does. Plagiarism is, therefore, more pernicious than piracy.
Enter Turnit.com. An off-shoot of www.iparadigms.com, it was established by a group of concerned (and commercially minded) scientists from UC Berkeley.
Whereas digital rights and asset management systems are geared to prevent piracy - plagiarism.org and its commercial arm, Turnit.com, are cyber equivalent of a law enforcement agency, acting after fact to discover culprits and uncover their misdeeds. This, they claim, is a first stage on way to a plagiarism-free Internet-based academic community of both teachers and students, in which educational potential of Internet can be fully realized.
The problem is especially severe in academia. Various surveys have discovered that a staggering 80%(!) of US students cheat and that at least 30% plagiarize written material. The Internet only exacerbated this problem. More than 200 cheat-sites have sprung up, with thousands of papers available on-line and tens of thousands of satisfied plagiarists world over. Some of these hubs - like cheater.com, cheatweb or cheathouse.com - make no bones about their offerings. Many of them are located outside USA (in Germany, or Asia) and at least one offers papers in a few languages, Hebrew included.
The problem, though, is not limited to ivory towers. E-zines plagiarize. The print media plagiarize. Individual journalists plagiarize, many with abandon. Even advertising agencies and financial institutions plagiarize. The amount of material out there is so overwhelming that plagiarist develops a (fairly justified) sense of immunity. The temptation is irresistible, rewards big and pressures of modern life great.
Some of plagiarists are straightforward copiers. Others substitute words, add sentences, or combine two or more sources. This raises question: "when should content be considered original and when - plagiarized?". Should test for plagiarism be more stringent than one applied by Copyright Office? And what rights are implicitly granted by material's genuine authors or publishers once they place content on Internet? Is Web a public domain and, if yes, to what extent? These questions are not easily answered. Consider reports generated by users from a database. Are these reports copyrighted - and if so, by whom - by database compiler or by user who defined parameters, without which reports in question would have never been generated? What about "fair use" of text and works of art? In USA, backlash against digital content piracy and plagiarism has reached preposterous legal, litigious and technological nadirs.