Category Archives: nexis

fingerprinting text in the age of cut-and-paste

Lexis Nexis has installed new software for detecting plagiarism. As described on their site:

LexisNexis CopyGuard uses pattern-matching technology to identify suspect passages in submitted documents. An easy-to-read report underlines and color codes questionable sentences, with links to the original sources.

This could be an important tool for assuring integrity not only in professional journalism, but also in the emerging class of amateur reporters. But apply it to blogs and CopyGuard might overload and shut down. Bloggers are constantly recycling text, often without clear attribution, or obvious demarcation between quote and original commentary. The bounds of plagiarism seem a bit less clear when you consider that cutting and pasting is one of the main ways we converse online.
(NY Times has story)