With my look back on 2011 complete, the next obvious question is “What is ahead for 2012?”
I gave up making hard predictions on Plagiarism Today years ago. Not only are these industries so unpredictable that the only way to have a good accuracy is to be extremely safe with your guesses, but even the ones that I get right often come true years after I make them, rather than months.
That being said, there are a few things I do expect from 2012, even if they aren’t actual predictions (at least not most of them) and I doubt most could ever be proven to be accurate or false later, these are all trends that started in 2011 and will likely continue through much of the new year.
Thoughts on Copyright in 2012
The big question everyone is going to ask is “Will the Stop Online Piracy Act pass?” That, to me, seems unlikely without significant revision. However, it does seem that, most likely, the U.S. will either pass or be on the path to passing some form of copyright legislation aimed at foreign sites.
The problem is that discrepancies between U.S. and other nations in terms of laws and enforcement make it so that some feel the best approach is to “protect the borders” so to speak. Other nations will fall suit and some already seem to have done so.
Either way, no matter how you feel about them, SOPA and PROTECT IP are just the beginning.
In other news, 2012 will also likely be a year of hangover for many of the new ventures in music and movies. Spotify, iTunes Match, YouTube and some of the other new ventures to push people to subscription-based music and movies will suffer some speedbumps this year and, unlike Netflix, it won’t be due to poor planning. Relationships between these new companies will fray with rightsholders some, likely over issues of royalties, but, those that can hold the ship together will likely grow to thrive.
Finally, I expect to see major rightsholders continue to turn their attention away from traditional file sharing and more toward sites that allow unlawful streaming. We saw this a great deal in 2011 with the renewed push against Grooveshark and the lawsuit against Zediva but this trend will continue and grow in 2012.
This is because streaming licensing (Spotify, YouTube, etc.) are becoming more important to rightsholders (even though many are still tepid about it) and they are going to move to protect this budding market aggressively, especially since doing so means going after central companies rather than individual file sharers.
Thoughts on Plagiarism/Content Theft in 2012
For smaller content creators, it should be largely business as usual in 2012. Though the Google Panda updates show promise, they don’t seem to have done too much to discourage spamming and scraping. In fact, as I mentioned in the previous article, many legitimate sites have been caught up in the updates as well, making it even more important to deal with the spam sites.
The one thing that is likely to change is that feed expansion is going to be a growing issue for sites with truncated RSS feeds. We saw more of it in 2011 and, given how it enables spammers to get around many of the issues with the Panda updates, it may actually become more appealing to some than regular RSS scraping. In short, expect to hear more about this in the months ahead.
For academic plagiarism, the effectiveness of automated plagiarism detection tools has already started to drive more students to using essay writing services. Couple that with the fact that a sour economy and price pressure for cheap offshore essay mills have driven the price down, it seems likely more and more students will be taking advantage of these services, which are almost impossible to detect through conventional means.
That being said, I also expect to see more and more students getting scammed by these services, both directly via “take the money and run” scams and services that either resell papers or just simply plagiarize what they create.
The other change will likely be that competition from other plagiarism detection services may cause some schools to look for alternatives to Turnitin and SafeAssign. Schools, particularly in the U.S., are feeling the budget crunch so it makes sense that they might look to save money on their plagiarism detection services. This could lead to fragmentation of the plagiarism detection market and that, in turn, could eventually reduce its effectiveness as it would mean new essays were scattered in more databases.
However, if that problem does come to pass, it would take many years to unfold.
All in all, as with my 2011 article, 2012 is going to be a continuation of 2011. The trends and shifts that began in 2011 will continue through 2012, in particular the first part of the year. Though there are many surprises in store, they are going to be almost impossible to predict, no matter how much information you have.
So, if you want to know what 2012 is going to be like, the best thing you can do is look 2011, it’s probably the best clue we have.
While this may not be the grand, specific predictions I know many like to see made, I’m hoping that this rant is at least a little bit more useful than a list of hit-and-miss predictions based on hunches and ideas.