ACCC looking at Turnitin

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has “preliminary concerns” about plagiarism detector Turnitin’s proposed takeover of competitor Ouriginal

Preliminary but substantial. The ACCC is “concerned that the proposed acquisition will substantially lessen competition in an already highly concentrated market and may lead to higher prices or reduced service levels.”

“Barriers to entry appear to be high in this market, with strong network effects and economies of scale being enjoyed by Turnitin. What we are focussing on here, is whether Turnitin is buying out its most promising competitive threat to protect its market position,” ACC commissioner Stephen Ridgway says.

Turnitin already dominates the Australian market, with Ouriginal citing only Murdoch U and Uni Canberra as university clients. LMS provider Blackboard also has Safe Assign which is used by at least four universities.

The ACCC’s statement of issues is here. The Commission invites submissions by September 27.

It’s an offer worth taking up. Turnitin resources are vast – it claims 1.4bn student papers in its database and 82m scholarly articles. It’s a resource so expensive to ever equal that competing with Turnitin could become too hard, giving it an effective monopoly.

A possibility universities should surely have a view n.