A whitepaper published by decentralized content distribution platform TRON appears to plagiarize at least two whitepapers written by Protocol Labs, the creator of both IPFS and Filecoin.
The charge was brought to light on Sunday, when Protocol Labs founder Juan Benet tweeted out a picture alleging that at least 9 pages of TRON’s English language version whitepaper were copied from either the IPFS or Filecoin papers, both of which Benet had co-written with other members of Protocol Labs.
A closer inspection of the documents appears to confirm those charges, as there are multiple instances in which extended portions of TRON’s whitepaper closely mirror text from either the Filecoin or IPFS papers.
In most instances, the text does not appear to have been copied word-for-word. However, the similarities in both vocabulary and structure throughout extended sections of the paper give the impression that at least portions of the TRON paper are little more than sloppy rewrites of those by Protocol Labs.
This is further evidenced by the fact that while the sections convey fundamentally the same information, the Protocol Labs papers always exhibit more detail and, when applicable, cite sources.
For example, these sections describe the BitSwap Strategy as it applies to nodes within their respective networks.
In another example, TRON's paper even appears to pull charts from that of Filecoin:
The most damning fact is that TRON’s whitepaper does not cite any references, which at the bare minimum violates the Creative Commons license under which the IPFS whitepaper was published, which allows for reuse with attribution.
Plagiarism runs rampant in the burgeoning initial coin offering (ICO) space, but, as the 10th-largest cryptocurrency with a circulating market cap of $9.4 billion, TRON is undoubtedly the most high-profile project caught engaging in the practice.
CCN has not confirmed whether the apparent plagiarism is isolated to the English version of the whitepaper or whether it is present in the Chinese version as well.
TRON had not responded to a request for comment by the time this article was written. However, CEO Justin Sun stated the following on Twitter:
"Our original version of the whitepaper is in Chinese and we have a very detailed reference to the latest Chinese version. The English, Korea, Japanese and Spanish versions are translated by the volunteers. The translation missed numerous important details not just reference," Sun said.
Despite this assertion, TRON removed both the English and Chinese versions of its whitepaper from its website, as can be seen by viewing an archived version of the site through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Featured image from Shutterstock.