If you’ve been involved in the cryptocurrency space for at least a few years, you may already know that plagiarism is one of the major controversial features of this space. There is no shortage of cryptocurrency projects which have been accused of plagiarizing their white papers, and TRON is the biggest name among them. But now it seems that TRON may get the company of another high-profile name that is the talk of the town. And that name is: Libra!
Yep, it’s true. Whether you believe it or not, but Facebook has been accused of plagiarizing its Libra white paper from another whitepaper published last year by some MIT researchers. The paper was published in Royal Society’s Open Science Publication, which is a subscription-free, available for all publication of Royal Society, and the title of white paper was “Digital trade coin: towards a more stable digital currency”. It was written by 3 MIT researchers: Alex Lipton, Thomas Hardjono and Alex “Sandy” Pentland. Now Lipton is saying that Facebook lifted the structure of its upcoming cryptocurrency from their whitepaper. Here’s what he told Coindesk:
“Without being particularly obnoxious, I can tell you that the actual structure of Libra is pretty much lifted verbatim from the paper which Sandy Pentland and Thomas Hardjono and I published last year.”
There are many similarities in Libra’s white paper and this other white paper published by MIT researchers in 2018. For instance, Libra paper suggests a coin that will maintain its value from a basket of multiple fiat currencies and short-term debt. This basket structure has already been suggested in the white paper published by Lipton and his teammates. In addition to that, the Libra Association proposed in FB’s whitepaper is also similar in nature and structure to the governing body that was proposed in the whitepaper of Digital Trade Coin. There are some other smaller similarities too, and Lipton believes that all of them can’t be coincidences. He is visibly miffed with the fact that Facebook didn’t bother to credit their work anywhere if it had been inspired by their ideas. He said:
“Our work was not mentioned in the Libra document at all, but, what adds a little bit of insult to injury is this paper was published as part of this free-for-all part of the Free Science part of the Royal Society effort.”
An earlier version of the Digital Trade Coin paper had also been published as a cover story in Scientific American magazine. So it’s not possible that Libra team might not have read it. Lipton said:
“The Libra people cannot really say that they have not read that. Or, if they have not read that, they shouldn’t be probably doing what they are doing in the first place.”
Given the driving philosophy of Silicon Valley, what Lipton is saying can’t be ruled out. The world of Big Tech companies is that of cut-throat competition, and almost all big tech giants have at some point been accused of stealing intellectual property. Libra, in particular, has also been accused of stealing its logo by a digital banking startup named ‘Current’. Now it will be interesting to see what Facebook and Libra team say about these controversies in the coming days.