The Internet’s growing band of plagiarists are about to meet their worst nightmare – a program that claims to be able to detect copy theft in any text document.

Russian information software company SearchInform Technologies has just released PlagiatInform 1.0, a professional anti-plagiarism tool that aims not only to spot whole-document copying, but even suspect passages within larger documents.

Traditionally, the need for such a system would have been restricted to the education sector, which is grappling with a surge in the phenomenon of copying and passing off works, but the company claims the system has uses in any field where text copying is a possibility.

“The system is currently being implemented in a publishing house, where it not only checks the works to be published with an existing database, but also tracks what competitors publish to see whether anything is being copied/re-published without proper citing,” said a company spokesperson.

It is not hard to see the application in mainstream business fields where plagiarism could be growing, such as marketing, commercial research and analysis.

The system works by comparing received or input documents with a database of those already held. If suspected copying is rated as low, the system then divides documents into paragraphs and compares them with its store to find partial copying. If smaller-scale plagiarism is suspected, it highlights what it believes to be the source of the text.

According to the company, the software can be used in a way that lets geographically diverse offices access the same document database. The system can also handle large volumes of document searching. Details of the licensing required for such use have not been disclosed.

The company could not confirm pricing.