As this is my blog debut, I decided to start off with something of a general nature--traps. Not the kind attached to your head but traps to catch the unsuspecting.
In the recent court case of Singapore Land Authority vs Virtual Map (Singapore) Pte Ltd, SLA revealed that they had intentionally or otherwise placed numerous errors in their vector map data. These traps were in the form of phantom or ghost details--for instance, a temple was added where there was no such temple and a road extension was placed where no such extension existed. SLA lawyers said these errors constituted "fingerprints" which were implicated Virtual Map.
What SLA did was by no means unusual...cases have cropped up in the United States since the early nineties.
The use of traps is not specific to maps. Other similar applications are useless computer source codes, small illogical graphics placed in pictures, fake entries in telephone directories and dummy text positioned in textbooks. All these have come into play in this age where content is readily available on the Internet and working smart is a fine line away from taking unacceptable shortcuts.
The whole purpose of such traps is to allow the content owner to then easily prove that his work was copied or plagiarism. With such traps, content users need to be aware that plain wholesale copying in the hope that they would not be caught is wishful thinking.
The same goes for the smart alecs who think that they can copy but circumvent the traps by customising the work and spotting errors.
My unversity professors had this advice for amateur plagiarizers: The effort spent in masking the plagiarism is better spent on creating your original piece of work.