Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Plagiarism software finds Shakespeare

THE 400-year-old mystery of whether William Shakespeare was the author of an unattributed play about Edward III may have been solved by a computer program designed to detect plagiarism. Software such as this is normally used to catch cheating college students. However, it has come in handy as a tool for scholars looking to research historical texts.
Sir Brian Vickers, an authority on Shakespeare at the Institute of English Studies at the University of London, believes that a comparison of phrases used in The Reign of King Edward III with Shakespeare's early works proves conclusively that the Bard wrote the play in collaboration with Thomas Kyd, one of the most popular playwrights of his day.
The professor used software called Pl@giarism, developed by the University of Maastricht to detect cheating students, to compare language used in Edward III - published anonymously in 1596, when Shakespeare was 32 - with other plays of the period.
It is interesting to note that software like this is readily available to professors and publishers alike. It can save an author and publisher future legal problems.

1 comment:

Jen said...

They needed software like that years ago.