qwerty writes "A paper to be presented at the upcoming academic conference Automated Software Engineering describes a new method to detect code theft and could be used to detect GPL violations in particular. While the co-called birthmarking method is demonstrated for Java, it is general enough to work for other languages as well. The API Benchmark observes the interaction between an application and (dynamic) libraries that are part of the runtime system. This captures the observable behavior of the program and cannot be easily foiled using code obfuscation techniques, as shown in the paper (PDF). Once such a birthmark is captured, it can be searched for in other programs. By capturing the birthmarks from popular open-source frameworks, GPL-violating applications could be identified."