Is Tron Plagiarized? White Paper Controversy Hits Cryptocurrency

Oh dear.


The surging cryptocurrency Tron has become embroiled in plagiarism accusations after crypto watchers noticed striking similarities between the project’s white paper and other peer-to-peer project documentation.

The project aims to give content creators the power to manage their own content, so instead of going through a publisher like Google Play, users can manage their own content. This vision appeared in jeopardy on Sunday after community members lodged serious accusations against the team.

“Why does your TRON whitepaper make wholesale copying of IPFS and Filecoin without a single reference?” Bedeho Mender, founder of BitTorrent client JoyStream, tweeted. “Bitswap, PoRep, PoSt, these are not your ideas?”

It’s a serious accusation against the blockchain-based ecosystem, which received a major boost on Saturday. Sibling social media company Peiwo APP has received the National High-tech Enterprise qualification from the Chinese government, giving the app highly-coveted public recognition. Peiwo, a Snapchat-like app that allows users to send 10-second voice recordings, runs on the Tron blockchain. The TRX token has surged from three cents on December 30 to 15 cents on Tuesday, according to CoinGecko.

Juan Benet, who works on the above-mentioned IPFS, produced his own analysis of the paper:

Benet's analysis

Joan Benet/Twitter

Justin Sun, founder of Tron and Peiwo, blamed the issue on poor translation:

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.
We do apology for the quality of different versions of the whitepapers. Also, our current code development is not as same as we planned in the whitepaper so please check our Github and feedback is welcome!
We can provide you with the latest Chinese version of the whitepaper and hope we can learn from your advice. Again, from the beginning, we don’t expect numerous languages versions to keep update. After our SF office opens we will have a better English version of everything soon!

However, cryptocurrency site Trustnodes notes that the same BitSwap equations that form part of the discussion are also present in the Chinese language version.

In a discussion on the cryptocurrency’s subreddit about the plagiarism scandal, some users have been debating whether Tron’s strength lies in its marketing abilities, alongside factors like the 10 million-strong userbase on Peiwo.

“Some teams spend two to four years on R&D to perfect the technology,” Reddit user perogies said on the subreddit. “Tron seems to have taken a marketing first approach, created massive worldwide buzz, and is now in the midst of an international hiring spree. They do seem to be landing some solid developers, so if the partnership announcements keep coming and the game takes off, it will buy them enough time to build the mainnet without killing the projects momentum.”

That may justify a thin white paper lacking in detail — leveraging early buzz to build up a more distinguished team is one thing — but that wouldn’t justify a plagiarized work. Whether that’s indeed the case will likely resolve itself in the coming days.