In Microsoft Israel CEO Danny Yamin’s family, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Alon Yamin (25), chose a similar business environment to his father’s, when he founded start-up Copyleaks two years ago. “I consult my dad, and he helps direct me regarding the start-up,” explains Yamin, Jr. Copyleaks operates in an area that Microsoft has been harmed by quite a bit: copyright infringement. The fledgling company is dealing with a different niche - identifying plagiarized texts. “My partner, Yehonatan Bitton, and I have developed an algorithm for this,” says Yamin. The company’s service allows for short texts, long texts, and even entire websites to be uploaded. The service is then updated each time a new page is uploaded to the site. After scanning the web, Copyleaks notifies the text owners if it identifies any instances of plagiarism. “We can also tell if there has been an infringement after a certain period of time, because we continually comb the web,” says Yamin. Copyleaks can even scan password-protected pages, such as the New York Times, which requires a subscription.
When Copyleaks identifies a copyright infringement, it informs the text-owner which website infringed, what its IP address is, and what the name of the infringing party is, when possible. It then sends the user a screenshot of the violation with a digital signature. The website itself is in English, and the algorithm works in all languages. Currently, Copyleaks offers the service for free, but under the company’s business model there will be a charge for these services in the future.
Surprisingly, the idea did not come from Yamin’s father, but from his partner, Bitton. “My partner has a website for his family business. From an early age, he would upload articles to it, but there was constant copying. It really annoyed him, and that’s how he got the idea to look for a solution to this problem,” says Yamin. The company has not raised any money yet. “That’s because we are both programmers,” says Yamin. This situation enabled the two to build the website in their free time, without investing any capital in it. “We are thinking ahead of ideas of how to grow, and then we will think about raising money as well.”
As far as marketing is concerned, Copyleaks operates primarily through word of mouth, but the company also has a Twitter account, and markets itself in forums. “We still have not done anything to bring in the masses,” says Yamin, “We want to approach lawyers looking for copyright infringements, publishers, and, in the future, to academic institutions looking for plagiarized work.”
Yamin met Bitton when they served together in the prestigious Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intelligence unit 8200. Bitton (27) went on to study computer science at Tel Hai College, and Yamin is currently working on a degree in economics and management at Tel Aviv University.
An Israeli exit
Copyleaks has something worth aiming for, as copyright infringement is an area that is gaining momentum, particularly as more and more people write content and upload it to the Internet. Copyleaks can look to another Israeli company that has already proven its success in the realm of copyright infringement: PicScout, which developed a solution to track copyright protected images on the Internet, and was sold to Getty Images, owner of a tremendous image bank, in mid-2011. According to various estimates, the company was sold for roughly $20 million.
PicScout’s technology identifies the digital fingerprints of images that appear online, even in cases where the images have been blurred or edited. The company has two products: ImageTracker, which identifies uses of images on the Internet and notifies the copyright holders of them, and ImageExchange, a browser add-on, which identifies copyright-protected images in real time, and offers users the option to buy them easily.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 28, 2014
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