The PlagSpotter API: Plagiarism as Problem and Opportunity

Plagiarism is a hot topic. The (ex) German Education Minister did it. George Harrison (yes, that one) did it. Jonah Lehrer, formerly of The New Yorker, did it (and got paid $20,000 for confessing!). As Pablo Picasso put it, "Good artists copy, great artists steal," but so do lots of other people.

Despite these high profile  cases in print and music, plagiarism isn't what it used to be. Plagspotter is aimed not at the print plagiarist (are there any of those left anymore?) but at plagiarism on the web. Is what you've posted being used by others without your permission? How would you know? Even more disturbing, if you run a site with a lot of content providers, how do you know whether plagiarized work is being posted on your site?

The Plagspotter API checks URLs and offline text that is on the web.  Output can be received in XML or HTML.

With the web, you need tools to both protect yourself from plagiarizing others (Plagspotter can check your content daily), and to turn theft by others into opportunity. In the latter case, you can use Plagspotter to check the web for sites that may be using your work without permission. This allows you to follow up and get paid once they are discovered. Blogger Jessica Forrell discovered a surprise with Plagspotter,

I loved it. Very easy to use and a very handy tool for my recipe blog. I had no idea that so many folks are reposting my blog posts on their sites without letting me know.

In a chat interview with Plagspotter's project manager, Oleksiy Synelnychenko, I asked him what the most important thing about the API was.

I think [it's] that our API can currently check in multiple languages (currently we cover all latin char and cyrillic). adding additional languages is possible but depends on the demand.

Monthly subscription prices range from $3.95 to $49.95 with custom options available. API checks are $0.04 each.

Be sure to read the next Security article: Stormpath Identity API: Solves Big Security Problem With Sleek Answer, Gets Fat Check