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Online Plagiarist Sues University 693

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-one-way-to-approach-things dept.
raistphrk writes "The Reg reports that an English student at the University of Kent has sued the university after the university caught him ripping his papers off the Internet and kicked him out of the English program. I guess the stakes are now being raised for universities that use services to check for plagiarized papers."
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Online Plagiarist Sues University

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  • I stole (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:55PM (#9290378)
    I stole someone else fp. I couldn't figure out how to write my own.
  • by Coolmoe (416032) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:55PM (#9290379)
    Burgulars will start suing homeowners for unsafe conditions. Oh wait ... nevermind

    • by Soporific (595477) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:04PM (#9290443)
      He should try this on secret service by plagiarizing some currency and see how far he gets.

      ~S
      • by Coolmoe (416032) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:17PM (#9290535)
        Totally agreed most people think it's ok as long as I don't get busted. This guy deserves to lose the money as he already got his warnings during orientation and im sure that there is a clear outline in thier student handbook. So in my opinion he was already adequately warned.
        • by blitz487 (606553) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @05:28PM (#9291675)
          The student's argument only has merit if the University is selling the degree for the money. However, this is not the case. The money is for attending classes and for the educational services of the University. The money is NOT for grades or a degree. The student received the classes and the educational services, therefore the student was not deprived of anything he was entitled to for the tuition money spent. The degree is awarded for meeting the academic requirements of the University, not for paying tuition. The student, because he cheated, did not meet the academic requirements, and therefore is not entitled to a degree.
    • by DaHat (247651) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:25PM (#9290615) Homepage
      Also similar to the "I didn't know smoking was bad for me" argument, or the more recent "I didn't know that eating McDonalds twice a day could make me fat."

      It's a shame that there are so many in the world who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
      • by Paradise Pete (33184) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:58PM (#9290822) Journal
        Also similar to the "I didn't know smoking was bad for me" argument

        Except that the University (presumably) didn't place ads showing beautiful people having a wonderful time and enjoying life because they were downloading papers off the internet.

      • by Spudley (171066) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:23PM (#9290985) Homepage Journal
        It's a shame that there are so many in the world who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

        In that single sentence, you've summed up the root cause of almost everything wrong in today's society.
      • by Heisenbug (122836)
        " Also similar to the "I didn't know smoking was bad for me" argument ... "

        The tobacco lawsuits are different. When a company's internal documents show that they knew a product was both chemically addictive and highly carcinogenic, and they continued to sell it for decades while assuring consumers that it was neither addictive nor deadly, they are responsible for damage done to those consumers.

        Given full disclosure up front (as cigarettes feature now), I'm more willing to blame the users.
        • by HiThere (15173) *
          Given full disclosure up front (as cigarettes sort of feature now), I'm more willing to blame the users.

          Consider the character of "Joe Camel" who was specifically tailored to attract those presumed to be too irrational to be trusted to guide their own lives (minor children).

          In a logical sense, they were warned. But they were blandished with targeted emotional seductions. Evil is not too strong a term, though amoral is probably slightly more accurate.

      • Tobacco company executives all testified under oath before Congress that they knew of no scientific evidence of nicotine being bad. Turns out they were lying their asses off, that for decades they had been suppressing their very own studies which showed that, and intentionally adding oddball ingredients to boost addictivity.

        Tobacco companies are evil and deserve more than they will get. Unfortunately, what with tobacco taxes bringing in so much revenue, governments are unlikely to give them what they des
  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by arcanumas (646807) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:56PM (#9290381) Homepage
    Are you *sure* this is in England and not in South Park Colorado?
  • unbelieveable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chachob (746500) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:57PM (#9290386)
    this reminds me of that woman that sued mcdonalds for "making her fat"...how could this guy not realize that copying papers and turning them in as his own is wrong?
    should have stopped him?! The world is going downhill when people begin to reject common sense in favor of outrageous accusations such as this one.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:33PM (#9290673)
      He admits he plagiarised. From the article:

      "But they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished. If they had pulled me up with my first essay at the beginning and warned me of the problems and consequences, it would be fair enough."

      He's complaining that he spent 3 years and lots of money submitting stolen papers and that the University should have made him understand EARLIER that submitting stolen papers would REALLY get him kicked out of the program.

      His case is that no one at the university REALLY explained to him that stealing papers was not acceptable and what the ACTUAL consequences would be. Or at least that they didn't do it early enough to satisfy him.

      Whether he wins or loses that case, you have to ask yourself, would you want to HIRE him to work for you?
      • Whether he wins or loses that case, you have to ask yourself, would you want to HIRE him to work for you?

        I wouldn't want him myself, but apparently there is no end to the number of companies that would want to hire him into management. Shame he went after an english degree, his real talent was in law.
      • by uncleFester (29998) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:08PM (#9290889) Homepage Journal
        Whether he wins or loses that case, you have to ask yourself, would you want to HIRE him to work for you?

        In a heartbeat.

        Sincerely,
        L. Hubert Platt, esq.
        Platt, Platt, Dewey, Cheetham, Howe & Platt, LLC
      • Probably because (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770)
        he was lazy and never read the university code of conduct. They all have them, and it outlies what you may and may not do. It's an important document to read. For example here in Arizona it's legal to carry a gun, both openly (with no permit) and concealed (with a permit). You can do this everywhere that isn't prohibited by law, or by the owners. The universities are not prohibited by law, and have no signs posted, so one might assume you can carry on campus. Well, you could in the past, but not any more. T
      • But they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished. If they had pulled me up with my first essay at the beginning and warned me of the problems and consequences, it would be fair enough.

        But this is an English university. It doesn't make any money from tuition fees; in fact it'll barely break even. Universities here (generally) don't have endowments, they're funded by the taxpayer. The university had absolutely no motivation to "steal" his money.

        Oh, and to put this
  • Re: What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:57PM (#9290390)
    He admitted he's plagiarized... There should be no problem.
  • by shagrat (82945) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @01:59PM (#9290399)
    sue his parents, and anyone else he has ever interacted with, for producing either an idiot or a liar, whichever he is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:00PM (#9290405)
    I'm a student at a university in the UK, and was recently done for plagarism, on the basis that I had lifted a paragraph from an internet source. I freely admit that yes, I did lift the paragraph from the source, but the unreasonable part is *I WROTE THE SOURCE*. That's right, they stuck my essay in google, my website came up, with an old, largely unrelated essay on it, and, because the essay is on the internet, it's copying from an internet source, in spite of the fact that it's my own site.
    There's catching people who are attempting to plagarise, and just being silly.
    • by elid (672471)
      But many universities consider using a single essay of yours for two different assignments to be plagiarizing, so why should your case be any different?
      • by Ieshan (409693) <ieshan@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:11PM (#9290491) Homepage Journal
        Because he had never submitted the original for grading?

        I'm not sure if this is the case (I'm not the above AC), but I don't really see a problem with submitting work done outside of class for later class credit. It's a bit on the edge to submit the same assignment for multiple classes, but fairly unlikely to happen in a University setting (and usually out-ruled anyway).

        Sometimes the sentence you wrote 6 months ago is just the best way to say what you want to say. That being said, I've never done anything like this. But it's an interesting case.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:12PM (#9290494) Journal
        The usual rule is that you can only not re-use material you wrote for another reason if someone else owns the copyright (i.e. you sold it) or you have already been awarded course credit for it (on any course, even at another institution).
      • by 0racle (667029) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:19PM (#9290560)
        Plagiarizing: To use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own.
        To appropriate for use as one's own passages or ideas from (another).

        Now a university is supposed to be a institution to pass on knowledge but when they can't even get simple English right, its a slight problem. If you wrote it you have the right to use it where ever you would like to, well unless you gave away the rights and such.
      • But many universities consider using a single essay of yours for two different assignments to be plagiarizing

        It's not plagiarising, and besides that, universities who condemn this are stupid.

        I get an assignment. I write an essay. I submit it and pass the course. I get an assignment for another course. Exactly the same essay fulfills that assignment. So I submit my essay again. And that would be wrong?

        If my own work is good enough to meet the requirements of two courses, why would I not pass both cour

    • by commodoresloat (172735) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:00PM (#9290832)
      If this actually happened, you would have pointed this out to the professor and the professor would have apologized. Unless the professor is a complete moron. Which is possible. But not likely.

      All these comments about turning in your own work twice being plagiarism are beside the point. Some professors don't want students turning in a paper written for another class, since presumably you should have learned something unique in that class that merits a unique assignment. In many situations that could be considered academic dishonesty (although I don't agree with that view), but hardly "plagiarism," which as others pointed out involves taking another person's work and pretending it is your own.

      • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @04:41PM (#9291413) Journal
        In many situations that could be considered academic dishonesty (although I don't agree with that view), but hardly "plagiarism," which as others pointed out involves taking another person's work and pretending it is your own.

        Quite right. The matter falls under the broader umbrella of 'academic dishonesty', rather than within the realm of plagiarism, per se.

        That said, the university was absolutely correct to penalize the author in question for his actions. Most universities have a policy not to accept for credit works created for other courses; often this extends to all previously written works. In this case, the author was presenting material as his own (correct), and as his original work for the course (decidedly incorrect.)

        What if I wrote a guide to Perl and put it on my personal website. Suppose I did it just for fun, as a project to keep busy over the summer. Three months later, I'm back at school, and my CS prof asks me to write an introductory handbook on the scripting language of my choice. I choose to write about Perl, and extract most of my handbook content from my existing online documentation.

        Doing it that way falls down for two reasons. First, as a student I don't learn anything. (The parent post noted this.) I don't have to do research. Second, I have an unfair advantage--I had an extra three months to write, review, and revise large portions of my content. Unless I cite my original source (my own work) the professor grading the assignment has no way of knowing that I didn't generate the entire assignment after it was assigned. Of course my handbook will be better than everyone else's--I had all that extra time.

        One should also be aware that sloppiness with citation can often lead the professor grading the work to distrust the rest of the work. Did the student lift anything from elsewhere undetected? Has anything that was cited been inadvertently or deliberately misrepresented?

        It's good that the university is cracking down now. Encouraging students to always cite sources is a valuable habit if they ever do any professional writing. Citing yourself can also be a valuable tool to encourage other academics to read your stuff.

        All that said, I hope that he wasn't punished too severely for this particular transgression, because it does seem fairly minor.

  • by hattig (47930) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:00PM (#9290408) Journal
    I saw this a couple of days ago (at a site with more details).

    How any person can get to university without realising that plaigarism is wrong is beyond me. How an *English* student can try to argue that he didn't know what the word meant (as per the student handbook that explained this) ...

    This person is so stupid that he doesn't deserve a degree. I think how he got his A Levels (pre-university exams in England) is also rather doubtful as well.
    • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:08PM (#9290461) Homepage Journal
      Having gone through engineering school, I have become very suspect of "perfect" people. Behind many 4.0's are a pile of lab partners who were shortchanged, lifted papers, cheating on exams, and behind the scenes dealings with professors.

      They just get innured to special treatment.

    • I'd love a pointer to your better source...

      How any person can get to university without realizing that plagiarism is wrong is beyond me.

      You get it wrong. He's suing them for not catching him earlier . He admits that he's been cheating all along and that he knew it was cheating. His complaint is that, if they had caught (and kicked him out) earlier, he wouldn't have stayed in school for so long (and paid his tuition).

      It looks like he's going to go into court arguing that he's been cheating since day one. I expect the university to use (among other things) the 'clean hands' defence (you can't claim the protection of the court if you're breaking the law). Plagirism is also copyright violation, so he's likely to get laughed out of court just on that basis.

      I can just imagine the disclosure request for:

      • A list of all assignments on which you cheated
      • For each such assignment on which you cheated,
        • A description of where and how you obtained your work,
        • any agreements you engaged in to obtain it,
        • how much (if anything) you paid for each assignment, and
        • how you think the markers should have recognized your cheat.
      • Plagirism is also copyright violation, so he's likely to get laughed out of court just on that basis.

        Not necessarily, there are places that do in fact sell papers that come with the rights to redistribute. There are works in the public domain (Shakespeare etc..) that you can republish without copyright infringement. And paraphrasing without citing the source, while not illegal, is still plagirism.

      • I can just imagine the disclosure request for:
        A list of all assignments on which you cheated
        For each such assignment on which you cheated,
        A description of where and how you obtained your work,
        any agreements you engaged in to obtain it,
        how much (if anything) you paid for each assignment, and
        how you think the markers should have recognized your cheat.


        He'll probably just crib the list from someone else.

    • This reminds me of another case I had several years ago. The girl who plagiarized came from a wealthy Beverly Hills family. She was a graduate student in an undergraduate class, which made it all the more embarrassing for everyone concerned. I caught her on an assignment, talked to her, she swore she had no idea that what she was doing was plagiarizing, so I gave her the opportunity to redo the assignment (something I usually don't do anymore in such cases). She turned in the next assignment. Plagiariz
  • by stienman (51024) <adavis@ub a s i c s . com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:00PM (#9290410) Homepage Journal
    His problem, then, is not that he was caught, but that he was caught too late. He argues that the university should have warned him of the consequences earlier.

    * CAUTION: Coffee is hot, do not store between legs while driving.
    * DO NOT stop chainsaw with HANDS.
    * DO NOT TOUCH SERVER
    And new to this category:
    * IF YOU CHEAT THROUGH SCHOOL, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO PULL THE RUG OUT FROM UNDER YOU AT ANY TIME, INCLUDING AFTER YOU'VE PAID US 4 YEARS TO PLAY ALONG WITH YOUR LITTLE SCAM( but just before we hand you your diploma).

    -Adam
    • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel.bcgreen@com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:18PM (#9290958) Homepage Journal
      The missing link here is that McDonalds raised the temperature of their coffee to unsafe levels at the same time as they started a "Free Refils" campaign. Serving the coffee at an unsafe temperature meant that customers would almost never finish their coffee in-store and be able to get a refill. -- But McDonalds still got the extra business from the add campaign.

      The woman in question was awarded 75% of her medical costs (she was found partially at fault), and a regurgitation of McDonalds' profits from willfully wounding their customers. The almost the entire $15M she was awarded came from this regurgitation of profits.

      The real warning should have been placed at McDonalds' world headquarters:

      • warning: do not injure your customers in the name of profit, or you may (sooner or later) face a seriously large punitive damage suit.
  • by KoriaDesevis (781774) <koriadesevis@nOsPam.yahoo.com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:02PM (#9290423) Journal

    Where I went to college, the Art department chair was caught many years after that fact for plaigarizing his dissertation for his Ph.D. He lost his doctorate and his job, and probably faced legal actions as well.

    Better to get nailed for plaigarism before you have your degree like this guy at the University of Kent did than to build a career around a falsehood like the department chair.

  • His own damn fault. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ebbomega (410207) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:02PM (#9290425) Journal
    Welcome to the Real World, kid. You break the rules, you get caught, your own damn fault.

    Plagiarism is an offense in which nobody wins. People who actually do the work are hurt because they won't rank as high (most Universities run off bell curves). The University gets themselves discredited and the value eof everybody's degree goes down if it happens too often. Everbody ends up with paint on their faces.

    Only person possibly standing to benefit from it is the Plagiariser. So if you go down, it's your fucking problem.

    This kid really needs to grow the hell up.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:03PM (#9290436) Journal
    On the other hand, hes top of the class in his law module!
  • by Vthornheart (745224) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:07PM (#9290456)
    I was about ready to tear the kid's head off too, and then I read the blurb. Although I don't think he would ever win a lawsuit, I do think that, if they knew that he was plagarizing earlier, they should have kicked him out instead of letting him wade through 3 years of school and then opening up the history of his plagarizing.

    The analogy to that would be seeing a burglar in your house, and sitting there as he took almost everything (and he knows that you're there watching and not saying anything about it). When he goes to take the last valuable item in your house, THEN you pull out your gun and shoot him in the face.

    Now granted, what the kid did was stupid, and his excuse is lame ("I didn't know it was wrong"). But if they knew that he had been plagarizing the past 3 years (as the article incinuates), then they should have kicked him out immediately. Doing otherwise does kind of look like extortion, or rather making someone pay money under false pretenses.

    That being said, I don't feel sympathy for the kid. You lost money? Too bad, you shouldn't have been plagarizing. You're 21 years old, you should know better.

    • by mikewas (119762) <wascher.gmail@com> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:22PM (#9290579) Homepage
      According to the BBC [bbc.co.uk] article:

      The University is running a pilot scheme which uses plagiarism detection software to analyse student work.

      So it's not like they knew all along and were stinging him along. They just got smart, started using the same technology he was using to cheat, and finally caught him.

      This was the English department after all. It took them awhile!

    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:24PM (#9290604)
      The analogy to that would be seeing a burglar in your house, and sitting there as he took almost everything (and he knows that you're there watching and not saying anything about it). When he goes to take the last valuable item in your house, THEN you pull out your gun and shoot him in the face.

      I think a closer analogy would be a bank robber, caught after a long string of robberies. "They knew I was doing it before, but they purposely waited until now to bust me, so they could give me a harsher sentence!" (and offering no proof that they did know he was doing it before)

      The 1st time or the 20th time...it's still wrong.
  • by Magus311X (5823) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:09PM (#9290473)
    ...is that the university didn't warn him that they knew he was plagiarising papers for his courseworks, but instead let him keep going until the week of the final exams and then told him there wasn't any point in him taking them, as they wouldn't let him pass anyway, thus letting him build up debts of $15,000+.

    There are two other possible options they could have done at the first time they he was plagiarising text:

    (1) Throw him out immediately.

    (2) Follow standard industry disciplinary procedures:
    . . .A verbal warning first, then a written warning; and finally suspension or being expelled.

    Given that the university stated that plagiarising won't be tolerated, why didn't they warn him? If a students wasn't getting some topic and constantly getting wrong answers, wouldn't the department have told him? If someone decided they wanted to become a pilot, attended flying school, but lacked the concentration/attention span required to learn, would the instructors waste their (and his) time stringing that person along only to tell them that they shouldn't bother attending the exam?

    There are standard punishments for this type of behavior. To allow someone to build up this amount of debt is purely vindictive and would probably amount to a "cruel and unusual punishment". It seems to me, the department were only interested in collecting as much money from him as possible.
    • I did not see anything in article suggesting that university knew he was plagiarizing earlier. It's what the student is assuming which may not be true. It might very well be the case that university just found out he was doing this. That's enough I guess.
  • Coursework (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nick Harkin (589728) <slashdot&cast-computers,co,uk> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:11PM (#9290483)
    All I know, is that whenever I hand in a single piece of coursework, however minor, we are always given a sheet to read and sign, stating that the work is entirely our own.

    And I'm a student in England.

    I hope he doesn't win, if he does, I'm going to feel really silly for the hundreds of hours I've put in on work over the years, when I could have done this.

    /Me Rolls Eyes.
  • Solution? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Potor (658520) <.farker1. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:12PM (#9290498) Journal
    I am an university instructor, as well as an admissions officer. Feeding everyone's papers through a plagiarism detector is probably going help, especially since the process itself will act as somewhat of a deterrent. But my own simple rule is as follows: if an essay sounds professional, it probably is. The writing standards of most undergraduate students are so low that anything well written really stands out. I simply run these through google. It is amazing how many of these turn out to be plagiarized (right now, in a program of about 60 students, I am dealing with three plagiarism cases - this does not include the handful of applicants who submitted plagiarized writing samples).

    As a corollary, it is amazing how stupid today's plagiarist is.

    • Re:Solution? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ieshan (409693)
      The reason why it continues is because most of the kids who get caught face no disciplinary measures.

      I'm a University student and know kids who have plagiarized, and they don't get anything but a slap on the wrist. Why? They're good students otherwise, and teachers feel bad ruining a career over it. They always think that they can "teach them better" by making them do an extra essay instead.

      But it's hard to argue that it should be okay. Maybe an F would do people some good.

      As a student, some advice:
      - Mak
  • My own experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by baywulf (214371) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:26PM (#9290617)
    In a course in computer engineering, we once had to do group presentations and reports on some research topic of interest. We were a group of 3 so we divided the three reports with each person being the primary writer for one of the reports. I knew my teammates from other classes but imagine my surprise reading the report of one of them. I was just amazed at the quality of the report and his command of english given the limited experience that he had. But he didn't cite any quotes in the report for all the references that he used. So I decided to do a google search on a few key phrases so they could he properly cited. Then lo and behold I enter one phrase and the entire first 4 pages of the report are literal cut and paste from something on the internet. Overall on the 10+ page report maybe 90% was plagerized. I was freaked out a the possiblity of putting my name on the report as a team project. I tried to get him to understand that what he did was wrong but he didn't think it was a big deal. Eventually we did pressure him to rewrite it in his own words. I shudder at the thought of what he did for his master's thesis!
  • by raistphrk (203742) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:27PM (#9290622)

    In the case of this kid, I think it's pretty cut-and-dry that he should bite the bullet. If you get caught plagiarizing, then you get busted. The fact that he didn't get caught before isn't evidence of negligence or discrimination, but rather his own luck in previous instances.

    When I submitted the story today, I had hoped to generate a debate about the rights-and-wrongs of plagiarism, but also about the issue of whether or not universities should be requiring the usage of online plagiarism-checking services.

    I'm pretty torn about online plagiarism-checking services [turnitin.com]. I think plagiarism is bad. I mean...every style book has a reasonable method of documenting where you got a quote from, and you can quote a whole paragraph in if it's relevant. For that matter, for most university papers, you can paraphrase a paragraph as long as you (a) cite the original source after you do so and (b) provide some more analysis to suppliment the material you used.

    On the flip side, I do feel a bit violated when I have to submit these papers. One at least one site, the user agreement you MUST agree to states that the site basically inherits ownership of the paper. Now, that really bothers me. I post all of my academic papers (as well as personal poetry and other writings) on my own personal website. Based upon those user agreements, this site could post my paper, with our without indication that I authored it, or even sell it, without even informing me. Worse, if a professor requires that I use the service, I don't have a choice in the matter. I am forced to either (a) take a failing grade on the paper (and potentially the class), or (b) give up what intellectual property rights I have over my paper. That really irks me.

    I don't have anything to hide; I don't rip off other people's work for my papers. At the same time though, I know other students DO rip off other authors' writings. I don't think it should be a professor's responsibility to be a source checker. If a fifty page paper has forty to eighty sources, the professor shouldn't have the responsibility to hunt down all of those sources. At the same time though, schools are putting their students in an academic guilty-until-proven-innocent situation.

  • If you take a look at the projects on RentaCoder, you will find that a good amount of them are homework assignements from students in the US and the UK. I find this ironic due to the fact that they are making themselves less prepared for a job that will probably get outsourced anyway. And they wont be in a position to try to find a better job.

    Whats even better is how some poeple make it easy to track down thier professor. They post a pdf or word document given to them by thier professor, some people forget that it automatically stores the name of the person or orginization where it was created. A simple email to the professor of the course, and that cheater is history.

  • by mumblestheclown (569987) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:33PM (#9290666)
    Uh oh.. I'm confused .. Let me check my "slashdot intellectual morals quick reference card.":

    • infringes on music copyrights... applaud
    • infringes on non-GPL licensing stipulations ... applaud
    • infringes on GPL licensing stipulations ... flame
    • infringes on website owner copyrights by reposting text that requires free registration ... flame
    • infringes on website owner copyrights by putting up an (unauthorized) mirror of the same material ... cheer
    • cheats in class by using a graphing calculator's memory functions .. cheer
    hmm.. it's not here.

    writes in additional line

    • plagarizes in class by plagarizing from the web ... flame
    glad we got that sorted.
    • While I understand what you're saying, you're A) oversimplifying and B) assuming Slashdot thinks as a single hivemind. (Which, while more true than may be optimal for true arguments and discussions, is NOT as true as your little quick-reference sheet makes it seem.)

      The first point is a gross oversimplification as, while SOME people here have said specifically 'All copyright is wrong and should be abbolished," MOST people have expressed something more mild. Along the lines of, "The current copyright system is extremely unfair. However, I do understand the possible good uses for copyright as an idea, just not how it is currently implimented. Because of that, I have more sympathy for those who chose to ignore the unreasonable restrictions used for copywritten entertainment (usually music) than those who use the copyright system to impose unreasonable restrictions on media." Which, in your mind, gets boiled down to all Slashdotters saying, "Infringing on music copyrights is good." This isn't even true for all Slashdoters, though, as every time music copyrights come up there are well-spoken arguments by artists (or even just those who disagree with downloading music without paying the artist, or programmers who apply the argument about music to software) who explain why they believe the copyright system is valid, and you're an ass if you "pirate" music or software.

      The second two points ignore the type of licensing stipulations. You seem to have a missunderstanding you seem to have on how (many) Slashdoters view software licensing. The issue (as I understand it) is that the GPL grants privledges BEYOND what would normally exist for code. As such, violating it makes you look like an ass, because you're already being given allowances you wouldn't have had without the GPL. On the other hand, the software licenses which are "applauded" when broken (usually) impose a restriction that (by Slashdot hivemind, popular concensus, the phase of the moon, or whatever company is currently in or out of favor) have been deemed unreasonable and overly harsh. For the most part, these software licenses impose restrictions vastly beyond what 'normal' copyright law would suggest is standard, and often due so in a questionably legal fashion (click through licenses, EULAs, popup browser downloads that say they are "required," etc.) So violating the GPL makes you look greedy while violating 'standard' software licenses (according ot Slashdot groupthink) can be the "right" thing to do.

      I don't even understand your points concerning mirroring and reposting text. Karma whores or ACs will often copy-and-paste text from Salon or the NYT and get modded up for it. Likewise, posting mirrors often gets you modded up. The idea for the first is that many (not all) people feel the registration systems imposed for some news sites are overly harsh and appreciate not having to give up such info to read what - in the newsstand print edition - would require no personaly identifying information. The logic behind mirroring is that many of the sites Slashdot posts about are, by their nature, hobby sites with low bandwidth and the webmasters appreciate not having their site hosed. When an entire word has been devoted to the negative effect of having a website posted on Slashdot, I don't think mirroring is unreasonable. For small sites, it's often considered a polite way of being helpful, rather than copyright violation...

      Maybe I missed a story, but how is the graphing calculator even slightly on topic? Because it's a story about school? I admit I don't read every story and don't have them all memorized, but I don't recal seeing a story about some kid getting in trouble for using a graphic calculator. (I wouldn't be copmletely surprised if it happened, but I think you're jumping the gun by posting about it.) That said, as a student... graphing calculators are tools and, if the teacher allows their use, I'm going to damn well use every tool I can to make my life easier. I'm not writing papers by hand because computers make it easier. Lik
  • by hugesmile (587771) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @02:35PM (#9290683)
    Reading comments in favor of the lawsuit crack me up. Like "It's like a cop following you to work and handing you 20 tickets when you get there".

    In reality, the student got what he paid for - class instruction - for years. He doesn't have that coming back to him. He paid tuition for a service (instruction), and he received that service.

    The fact that he is unable to complete his degree puts him in the same category as all the drop-out and flunk-out "students". Should they be refunded their tuition, simply because they cannot finish? Doubtful.

    Court adjourned; ruling in favor of the defendant, in summary judgment.

  • recent experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chloroquine (642737) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:00PM (#9290839) Journal
    I was asked to judge an essay contest for high school students sponsored by my place of work. Out of the 20 or so essays I read, I easily found plagiarism in six by doing a few google searches. Other essays were more difficult to prove plagiarised, but still made me suspicious - I didn't have time to do any in depth searches because I had other work to do.

    These essays were obviously read by the student's teachers. Some students from the same class obviously prepared their essays together. Did the teachers just not care? Do they realize that next year those judging the competition will not take their students seriously. I was put off by the experience, and don't really want to judge again next year. When I was that age, we didn't have online sources for this kind of thing. I guess I'm naive to be surprised by the sheer percentage of kids cheating. I know there have been articles recently that cite studies that have found extremely high percentages of kids cheat, I just figured that these numbers applied to a kid's entire academic career - I can see someone cheating once or twice in the period of time from kindergarten to the end of high school, or until the end of college. Apparently, I was underestimating the problem.

    The way my undergraduate university dealt with this was to have an honour code. We signed an agreement on our first day of school that we wouldn't cheat, and if we did, if we were discovered, if we knew that someone else cheated, and we didn't do anything, there were clear penalties. The code was clear and as far as I know, the implementation was fair. There was a case of a fraternity getting copies of an exam before it was given, and those involved were punished.

    I indirectly caught someone cheating once when I found their class notes in the bathroom while they were taking an exam. I knew that it was early in the exam period. I didn't follow the honour code, but just took the notebook, kept it for a few days and then dropped it off with the professor, not telling them when or where I'd found it. I felt bad for the student, but I figured that when they went to the bathroom and found it missing, and then had it returned to them several days later by the professor, they would be freaked out enough. Yeah, that was probably mean, but I could have been meaner.

  • by kahei (466208) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:43PM (#9291101) Homepage

    When you go to uni, you don't pay for a degree. You pay for tuition (and other related services) and the twit recieved these services. There was no contract that said he had to get a degree. The fact that he elected to not bother to do the work that would have led to a degree is his affair -- the contract between him and the uni is intact.

    He doesn't have a case, unless there was something really odd in his contract with the uni.

  • Big brass ones (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmb-d (322230) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @03:53PM (#9291148) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    "I can see there is evidence I have gone against the rules," he concedes. "But they have taken all my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished. If they had pulled me up with my first essay at the beginning and warned me of the problems and consequences, it would be fair enough."


    Waaah! I admit that I did wrong, but I was misled into thinking it wasn't a problem!

    File this one under, "Sit down and shut up!"
  • Not an American (Score:3, Insightful)

    by batura (651273) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @04:01PM (#9291200)
    I am completely amazed that this person is acutally NOT an American (as I am, don't worry, no foreign criticism here).

    Apparently, in our courts and society, ignorance of the rules, or in fact, ingnorance in general, is usually enough to get yourself out of trouble (or at least, excuse yourself from it).

    People have brought up a large number of similar cases (most notably coffee), where people basically claim ignorance (unreasonably) and try and make a legal case out of it.

    I didn't know the coffee was hot, I didn't know plagerism would get me kicked out of school, et cetera. What sickens me more than when people wrongfully claim ignorance, is when judges don't throw that shit out of court.
  • Not Serious (Score:3, Informative)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @04:25PM (#9291340)
    The article doesn't say the student sued, it said the student is "to sue", and the article didn't interview anyone else on this story -- so I assume the student is entertaining his own little private fantasy and the paper published it just to get a rile out of us.

    "A student who was booted off his degree course for plagiarism is to sue the university."

  • by Modulous (472907) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @05:01PM (#9291516)
    The text says "has sued the university" whereas the actual article says "A student...is to sue the university" and other articles state "is planning to sue".

    This seems to me that his legal action is very much in the formative stage, if it is anywhere at all. Good luck on finding a solicitor to take the case. Especially given that the university has made it perfectly clear what plagiarism is and the consequences thereof.

    Most frivolous lawsuit stories are about lawsuits that where filed but never made it to court. I have a feeling this is going to be one of them.
  • Scary Precident (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jtshaw (398319) on Sunday May 30, 2004 @05:45PM (#9291755) Homepage
    If this idiot were to win this lawsuit it would be pretty scary for our University system.

    This reminds me of the cheating scandle at Georgia Tech a few years back, where a bunch of whinny bitches got F's in a CS class because the professors setup a way to compare peoples programs to see if they had cheated. (I was a TA for one of those classes and I had less then a 3 or 4 students ever ask for extra help all semester.. and shocker.. those that did go the material and weren't caught for cheating).

    The idea behind school is not to see how well you can avoid doing any real work of your own, but to learn something.

    There can be no guarentee that because you paid to take a class means you paid for the right to pass that class. The last thing we need is for college level eduation to be reduced to the level that grade school education has in many places.

    The teachers should have to kept to certain standars, but ultimately the burden should be on the students to learn.

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"

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