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Yale College Council Accused of Copying Dating Site

( - April 5, 2004) When the Yale College Council (YCC) decided to open an online dating service at Yale, they contacted Wesleyan's online dating service WesMatch for a possible partnership. A week after being given a demo login for WesMatch, the Yale College Council opened its service. But the service looked quite a bit like WesMatch, which the Yale College Council hadn't licensed a deal with. Now the Yale College Council is being accused of copyright infringement.

Late last month the creators of WesMatch publicly released documentation supporting their assertion that the Yale College Council was stealing their code and content. They also released an image (seen immediately below) that shows the sign up questionnaire in which the Yale College Council is accused of copying 16 multiple choice questions, most verbatim.

WesMatch put out a news release in which they poked fun at Yale's service, which they call a "copy and paste" job. In the release, WesMatch site programmer Dan Stillman ’04 expressed relief that the Yale site so closely mirrored his own work: “I had always been a little unsure about the color scheme I chose for the questionnaire, but when I saw that they didn't even bother to change the colors when they copied over the code, it really set me at ease.”

The release also pointed out the following:

YCC members did make a number of valuable contributions of their own to the site, changing the 'Leadership' answer 'Doug Bennet calls me for favors' to 'Levin calls me for favors,' the phrase 'Slow down, tiger' to 'Not so fast there, tiger,' and the question title 'Tolerance for Fools' to 'Tolerance of Fools.' They also improved the accuracy of the site by adding a number of questions relevant to compatibility, including 'Celebrity Promiscuity,' 'Super Bowl Moment,' and a question asking users to select their favorite Ninja Turtle.

In an opinion editorial, Yale Daily News attacked the YCC for what appeared to be plagiarism.

Says one part of the opinion piece:

"The University should not leave the controversy to the YCC to resolve and should conduct its own thorough investigation of WesMatch's serious charges. If students on the YCC did borrow too liberally from WesMatch, the YCC owes Wesleyan the licensing fee it skipped out on the first time. Further, we especially urge the University to hold any students responsible for the alleged theft to the same standards of discipline that would apply to any Yale student who plagiarizes."

The online dating survey has been removed from the YCC's online dating site.

Click here to read WesMatch's News Release


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