CopyrightSpot: New Copy Detection Service

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copyrightspot-logo.pngThe copyright infringement/plgiarism/copy detection market has been a booming industry over the past few years. Large companies such as Attributor and iCopyright have entered the field and smaller developers such as Blogwerx and Bitscan (now Copy Alerts) have joined to compete with traditional competitors including traditional search and Copyscape.

However, Matthew Whittaker, the creator of MyFreeCopyright, previously covered here, has launched a new service entitled CopyrightSpot. The service aims to compete with established competitors by helping users search for their works easily and efficiently.

But how is the service going to fare in a crowded market? With established competitors and big names, how is CopyrightSpot stacking up?

I put the service to the test to see how well it performs against Google and some of its competitors. The results were surprising.

How CopyrightSpot Works

Anyone who has used Copyscape or Bitscan (prior to its conversion to Copy Alerts) will be very familiar with how to use CopyrightSpot. The user simply inputs the URL of the site or page that they want to check and then hits search, CopyrightSpot does the rest.

copyrightspot-view.png

Currently, the service is in an alpha release state and the basic search is the only service provided. Right now there is only the search box and the results page. Both the link to the blog and to the dashboard do not work.

However, the Dashboard link provides a hint at a future “premium” service that may provide some case management systems.

It also provides a service that enables you to contact CopyrightSpot and suggest your ideas for the service.

However, the real question of any such service is not what services it provides, but how well it detect copies of original work.

How it Performs

Since CopyrightSpot is in an alpha release, I feel the need to go very easy on it. However, since many have already started relying upon it as their primary copy detection tool, I did want to put it through a few tests to see how it stacked up against both Copyscape and Google itself.

In that regard, I chose to perform a trio of tests similar to the ones I did against Copyscape last year.

First, I ran one of my poems, being careful to use a printable page to avoid false positives due to comments, through CopyrightSpot, Copyscape and Google (using a statistically improbable phrase) and compared the number of results detected for each.

Here are the results:

  1. Google: 53 Results
  2. Copyscape: 40 Results
  3. CopyrightSpot: 5 Results

Clearly, CopyrightSpot lagged far behind the other two services. Where Google found 53 results and Copyscape 40, meaning that with likely mismatches in Google it was nearly 100% perfect, Copyright Spot only located 5 pages, perhaps as little as 10% of the potential matches.

I ran a similar test, this time using a prose work, once again using a printabe page. The results from that test were as follows:

  1. Google: 19 Results
  2. Copyscape: 8 Results
  3. CopyrightSpot: 5 Results

This time, CopyrightSpot was much closer to Copyscape but both lagged significantly behind Google itself.

Finally, I tested the home page of my old site, an intro that I knew was regularly copied. I ran it through all three services with the following results:

  1. Google: 12 Results
  2. Copyscape: 19 Results
  3. CopyrightSpot: 16 Results

These results seem odd to me as both Copyscape and CopyrightSpot bested Google. I tried this several times with different phrases but always with roughly the same result, Google, for some reason, returns fewer results than either of the other services.

However, even then, CopyrightSpot lags slightly behind Copyscape, but not so much as to be a worrisome.

All in all, the first result is a cause of concern, especially for poets or those that deal with a large volume content copying. Overall though, CopyrightSpot performed reasonably well in all of the testing, though there is clearly work to be done on the service.

Missing Features

CopyrightSpot clearly has a good start, but has a lot of work to do. But in addition to improving their detection algorithm, CopyrightSpot needs to play catch up with some of the features its competitors have.

My personal list of needed features would include the following:

  1. Text Detection: Right now CopyrightSpot can only detect text within a URL. The ability to paste text, similar to Copyscape premium, would be a huge step forward for those that do not put all of their work on public URLs.
  2. Email/RSS Alerts: Copy Alerts provides a decent alert system that works well for bloggers especially and Google Alerts works great for static content and is adding RSS support.
  3. Resolution Assistance: This is where larger players such as Attributor and iCopyright are staking their claim. They are hoping to be more than just tracking and detection tools, but actually helping the user either convert the use into a legitimate license or secure removal.
  4. Pairing with MyFreeCopyright Service: Other than cross-linking between the sites, CopyrightSpot makes no use of its sister service. Considering that MyFreeCopyright can parse RSS feeds, it seems like a natural pair.
  5. Alternate Media Detection: Services such as Picscout provide the ability to detect images and Tineye is developing a search engine that allows users to search for copies of their work. A more holistic solution is needed for artists that work in mixed media.

However, I think that the worst crime the service is guilty of is looking and feeling incomplete. The blog does not work, links on the home page go nowhere and the entire site feels unfinished. A few hours of polish could likely help this site a great deal.

Conclusion

CopyrightSpot, for the most part, seems to be off to a decent start. Though it lags behind its competitors in many areas, much of that can be explained by its alpha status.

However, if CopyrightSpot is going to thrive in this field, it needs to realize that it is up against larger, better-established competitors and it needs to provide a service that is both unique in its offerings and better in terms of its protection.

It took Copyscape a series of upgrades to get where it is and CopyrightSpot is starting out relatively strong for most searches. However, it is clear that they have a long way to go.

Right now, I would definitely encourage users to give it a try and see if it works well for them but to not rely on it as their primary or even major copy detection service. It simply is not ready for that.

Right now is a great time to adopt a “wait and see” view on this service and observe what becomes of it. If it strengthens its offerings and improves its performance, it could be a major contender in this area, especially in the niche of “quickie” plagiarism checks.

If not, then it could end up like countless other “also ran” services that never went anywhere.

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