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Students Protest Turnitin.com 1038

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-want-to-cheat-now dept.
StupidSexyFlanders writes "The Washington Post ran a story about students protesting their school's use of anti-plagiarism site Turnitin.com, which checks papers they've written against a database of 22 million other papers. From the article: "Members of the new Committee for Students' Rights said they do not cheat or condone cheating. But they object to Turnitin's automatically adding their essays to the massive database, calling it an infringement of intellectual property rights." Statistically speaking, it's likely that a sizable percentage of these students download copyrighted material from the Internet. Do you think any of them are concerned about IP rights then?"
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Students Protest Turnitin.com

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  • my school (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:15AM (#16174473)
    The students go to my high school. The school administration blatantly denied the accusations that it violates student rights on the school announcements system, and then these guys decided to get themselves on the local news.

    They win in my book.
    • Re:my school (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BoomerSooner (308737) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:05AM (#16174927) Homepage Journal
      In a society where all High School teaches you to do is think inside the box and do what teachers/administration say, why the hell would they (the schools) expect anyone to be able to do any kind of work or create something new when all school has become is a baby sitting service?

      As someone (yes I live in backward Oklahoma, however Norman is somewhat educated) who was constantly in trouble for being different and difficult due to my overwhelming boredom with the monotonous teaching techniques used. I would frequently get in trouble for ignoring assignments, classwork, etc. to do what I wanted. The material taught in most High Schools could be learned by a student in 1/4 the time if the student is remotely intelligent.

      My best High School teacher saw this. We would ad nauseaum go over Algebra and Trig in class. He would assign a significant amount of homework. However for those of us that understood the work, if our homework grade was less than our test grade, the test grade would replace it (if it were 90% or higher). I would call out my daily score of 0. Test day would come. I'd review the material in the book. I would make an A or B. Our homework was only 20% of our overall grade as well.

      I've never seen a machine strip the creativity out of students faster than the Public School Systems of our country. Learning is a chore here, not an enjoyable endeavor for most. I would venture to guess that outside of the social aspect (learning how to interact with different people), public schools hinder our society more than assist it. It's time to scrap the system and start over.

      Oh I had a college biology teacher that was similar (it was a pre-college course in high school). He'd give you modules to learn at your own pace. You did X number before 6 weeks you got Y for your grade. I'd do all my work the first 2 weeks, then read the next four. I learned 10x what I did in my first two biology courses and had 12 weeks of an 18 week semester to read books, do whatever. The teacher was always there if you had questions, it just wasn't spoon fed.

      End of rant.
      • Re:my school (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Marcion (876801) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @06:39PM (#16179041) Homepage Journal
        The problem is not low-quality students cheating, its low-quality teachers who need software to tell whether their students wrote their essays or not.

        When I was at school, good teachers would know if a parent or sibling had helped because they obversed and tended the growth of knowledge themselves, they did not leave it to a web application or 'virtual learning environment' (virtually learning=almost learning=not learning?).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by radarsat1 (786772)
      Wow, you could understand your school's PA system? Kids have it so easy these days... I remember hearing a fuzzy sort of crackle coming from the speaker, and someone would just go, "Uh, did it say something important?"
    • Re:my school (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @12:03PM (#16176145) Homepage
      Also, the most important thing to remember about this story is THIS IS A HIGH SCHOOL! If this were a college, the school might, MIGHT just be able to work a clause into their student contract BEFORE the student registers and starts paying stipulating some use of their copyrighted works for use with this system. However this is for mandatory highschool, this is state mandated and I think they'd have a hard time arguing that the state can force every student to hand over the copyrights to their works.

      The school I'm sure will make the ethical argument that if they are not cheating, they should have no reason to object to this service. However the best case these students have (although IANAL) is that this service is profiting from retention of their papers and in fact would not be able to be in business if they were not allowed to keep copies of student papers.

      I've seen some people post in this story saying "but they're not DIRECTLY profiting from the student's work". The hell they aren't! Their service 100% relies on the ability to use existing students' work to compare against. How is that not directly profiting? They are incorporating the students' work into their product/service. And the students receive no compensation.

      What MIGHT be acceptable is if the students had an option (very important, they should in no way be forced) to sell a license to this service to use their works and were paid an agreed upon annual fee for its use. Yes, it would cost the service an assload of money...as it should if they are profiting from copyrighted works.

    • gross disrespect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sg_oneill (159032) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @12:05PM (#16176161)
      Wow. what an opinionated by line.

      The entire problem with these systems is they represent a gross distrust of alot of innocent students. If 25% or thereabouts cheat, it means 75% do not. And that 75% are entirely entitled to be pissed off at there essays being kept in some stupid anti-student database.

      I would of never dreamed of doing this shit to my students back in my university days.

      Respect is a 2 way street. If you want to get it from your students, you got to respect them first, otherwise you simply dont deserve it.
  • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:19AM (#16174491) Homepage Journal
    I can see those students having a problem with that, after all it is your work and you don't really want others to keep hold of it while checking. It's like turning up to an airport, handing your mobile over for them to check it wasn't dangerous, and then them handing it back to you after copying your phone book and all of your messages off of it. The company should check it against the database, and then get rid of it, their database shouldn't be automatically updating with every paper that goes through it because eventually it will start catching out genuine work purely due to the amount of data that is being processed through it.

    I think the problem here is that the company is permenantly keeping it, and I'd be pretty smarted about that as well, but then on the flip side of the coin for the company and the school, the more copies they have, the more likely (in their view) it is that they will catch those who for example, are using their older brothers essays to go through or using work taken from old pupils. It's a tough situation to gauge, but the students have a strong point on the IP there. That being said, why not just add Wikipedia to the database and catch 99.9% of students, heh. Juding from teachers I know, Wikipedia is the bane of their existance when it comes to schoolwork.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) * on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:26AM (#16174547)
      I think the problem here is that the company is permenantly keeping it, and I'd be pretty smarted about that as well, but then on the flip side of the coin for the company and the school, the more copies they have, the more likely (in their view) it is that they will catch those who for example, are using their older brothers essays to go through or using work taken from old pupils.

      Well yes, that's just the point. Without retaining the papers their database of papers would be empty. What good would FDDB be if they automatically purged every entry?

      KFG
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mitsoid (837831)
        Teachers shouldn't eruse the exact same project every year... i've taken a photography class with the same instructor 3 semesters now, just for fun.. Every year he recycles about half the previous year's good ideas, rewords the projects in such a way we can't reuse the photos... and adds a few new ideas to the table... Best instructor i've ever had, fun, puts some effort himself into the class, and makes it rather enjoyable
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:32AM (#16174593) Homepage
      Actually, a lot of cheating comes from paper mills and using old papers (yours or others'), not Wikipedia. (He says, having taught that the college level recently.) So keeping the papers is a very smart thing to do. I think that legally, TurnItIn.com and other such sites are probably OK in doing that as long as the papers are not accessible except by their comparisons to new submissions *and* they take good steps to make sure that the database isn't cracked. In many ways, it's akin to the difference between the Census Bureau publishing aggregate statistics that include you in them (even very personal data, like sex-related information) and actually publishing your census form.
      • Any use without the copyright owner authorization is illegal, definitily if it is for profit. There is fair use, but this use of checking papers is not "fair" use. The kids should get a lawyer and sue the school and turnitin.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        The papers are written on request by the teacher/school. It's a lot like a "work for hire", which would be owned by the teacher/school, except the writer typically is paying the school.

        I'm sure there's already lots of case law on who owns the content produced by students. Schools use that kind of content all the time - from grad students, it's the lifeblood of their system. There's got to already be lots of precedent establishing which rights are retained by the students, and which aren't. Maybe it isn't fa
        • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dun Malg (230075) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:30AM (#16175181) Homepage
          The papers are written on request by the teacher/school. It's a lot like a "work for hire", which would be owned by the teacher/school,
          That is not the case. By law, copyright belongs to the author unless other arrangements have been specifically made. "Work for hire" happens only in the context of an employment contract. I would love to see what sort of "contract" you think students (or their parents) signed for the school to retain copyright of students' work. If a student writes a really intriguing short story for an English class assignment, does the school get to sell it to an anthology compiler or a Hollywood script writer? Not a chance. They can't even print it in the school newspaper without the student's permission. How is giving copies to Turnitin any different?
      • by grahamsz (150076) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:59AM (#16175531) Homepage Journal
        I've used older works of my own as a basis for new work. It'd be foolish not to. Just like we all build our code into reusable chunks so that when it's needed on the next project we can leverage the time already put into it.

        I had an interesting conversation with this about one of the senior staff members in our electronics department. He was of the mindset that plagurism really didn't matter if you structure the question in such a way that it need to show understanding. As long as the request is sufficiently targetted that you can't wholesale copy another paper, then what's the real problem if you find a paragraph in another person's paper that fits perfectly with what you need. (although in those cases why not just cite it as a source).

        Engineering may be unique because papers usually need to show a deep understanding, and a professor who knows and works with you should be able to quickly see if it's not your work.

        I can see how it would be a much bigger problem in something like English Lit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ptbarnett (159784)
      I think the problem here is that the company is permenantly keeping it, and I'd be pretty smarted about that as well, but then on the flip side of the coin for the company and the school, the more copies they have, the more likely (in their view) it is that they will catch those who for example, are using their older brothers essays to go through or using work taken from old pupils.

      Setting aside what may be the student's true motivation, I think this is the real issue.

      I wouldn't have any problem with u

    • by Rydia (556444)
      Actually, the claim is rather weak. When a work is prepared in the scope of one's employment, even if only for evaluation purposes, the copyrights are assigned to the employer (in this case, the school). The applicable theory would be the control doctrine: the college is in control of the time (due date), matter (general subject), content (requirements and rubrics) and finally, has a mechanism for evaluation which is generally transparent.

      I don't see the students having a very strong IP claim at all.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MoneyT (548795) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:41AM (#16174689) Journal
        The problem is, the students are not employed. They recieve no compensation for their work.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ruff_ilb (769396)
          I'd like to add that, in many cases, these students don't even have a choice - they are required by law to attend high school, and this high school is the only that's available/affordable/etc.

          This is totally different from employment where you (presumably) have options, aren't legally obligated to work, and can quit if you disagree with the policies.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Waffle Iron (339739)
        Try your line of argument the next time you deal with a wedding photographer and see how far it gets you.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GizmoToy (450886)
          It'll get you pretty far if you choose a good wedding photographer. Many now assign the rights to the photos over to you. The only places we found that retain photo rights anymore were places that show on film or a mixture of film/digital. The all-digital places, it seemed, universally assign the rights to their employer (me). We own all our wedding pictures, and most people who've been married recently, at least, should too.
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        employement requires compensation. if the school used such an argument the student should simply cede the case, then turn around and sue the school for back wages at $5.15 an hour for the entire amount of time they have spent in school or working on homework.
    • by LoudMusic (199347)
      I can see those students having a problem with that, after all it is your work and you don't really want others to keep hold of it while checking. It's like turning up to an airport, handing your mobile over for them to check it wasn't dangerous, and then them handing it back to you after copying your phone book and all of your messages off of it.

      I think this is very different. In the work environment all the work you do belongs to the company you do it for. I believe school projects can be treated the same
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wkitchen (581276)
      That being said, why not just add Wikipedia to the database and catch 99.9% of students, heh.
      Sure, you'll catch your 99% that way. But only until the smart cheaters get wise to it and start using other sources and checking those against wikipedia themselves. After that, you'll only catch 98%.
  • "Do you think Bany of them are concerned about IP rights then?"

    Pick any large group of people protesting about "protecting my rights."

    Some will have the moral high ground. Others will be secretly, or not-so-secretly, violating other's rights.

    It's just the nature of humanity and the law of statistics applied to large numbers.
  • by aepervius (535155) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:20AM (#16174503)
    It does not even matter if they are the worst hypocryte of the world.

    Their work. Their IP. It is so then protected and nobody can copy it without their agreement.

    But now I bet that in the admission rules it will be written that "student give fully and eternally the right to the school to copy and dsitribute any essay they give back for a notation, for any usage. "
    • It didn't say that at all. That's why they came up with this argument in the first place; they have a legal basis for it.
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      But now I bet that in the admission rules it will be written that "student give fully and eternally the right to the school to copy and dsitribute any essay they give back for a notation, for any usage. "

      With the way things are going, it wouldn't surprise me.

      1. Put copyright notice on every page of your essay
      2. School submits it to turnitin
      3. Sue everyone in the chain for copyright violations

      Fair Use doesn't cover making complete copies.

    • by Virtex (2914)
      But now I bet that in the admission rules it will be written that "student give fully and eternally the right to the school to copy and dsitribute any essay they give back for a notation, for any usage."
      IANAL, but I think this would be completely unenforceable unless it were in a contract that the student signs. But then again, a minor (anyone under 18) cannot cannot be legally bound by a contract.
      • by Aadain2001 (684036) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:10AM (#16174963) Journal
        This actually touches on a gray legal area: the legal rights of minors. While there are definately rights that you are born with (and a few that some people believe begin at conception, such as right to life), others are more fluid. When minors cross the entrance of public schools, many if not most of their rights disappear. For example, where adults have the right to property that cannot be removed without lawful cause, minors can have anything and everything taken from them by school officials if they deem it necessary (think cell phones, pagers, magazines, etc). So, is intellectual property the next 'right' that minors will have stripped away once entering a public school? Will schools, therefore, start claiming ownership of ideas the students think of during school hours, much like corporations claim the ideas of their adult employees?

        I think we are seeing the start of a new legal debate: what rights do minors have or not have, and who can take them away? If some 17 year old comes up with the next great business idea while sitting in his computer programming class in high school, does the school have legal rights to the idea? Does his parents since they are legally responsible for him? Or, since the school is a public school, does the State/Federal government have first rights? In an age where IP rights can mean the difference between just another computer program and a billion dollar empire, questions like these are going to be asked more often.

    • But how do we know it's thier work. And how will we know if someone at a later date tries to pawn off this work as thier own.

      Curious, what's the difference between the written essay and the recorded song?

    • It isn't their work, though. Just like if you produce work at a company and it is owned by the employer, so too is work produced for a university study the property of the professor and university. Professors for years have been using the work of students as tools to show new students good, effective writing or research.

      If the paper database does not disclose the substance except in the event to flag another newer paper as plagarism, then I don't see the harm. In effect if you are saying that the students I
  • by runlevel 5 (977409) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {eduntap.p.g}> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:22AM (#16174519)
    When I was in high school a few years ago, they began to make us submit our papers through this system, too. It would read through the document and produce a number based on the likelihood that you cheated. I once wrote a simple paper for an English class and it ranked it as having a 27% chance of copying or cheated. The system was definately buggy and false positives can do an awful lot of hurt to a student's credibility.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kfg (145172) *
      You'd almost start to think that once you'd read a handful of high school papers you'd pretty much read 'em all.

      You might also start to wonder if the kids weren't starting to catch on to the pure bullshit factor of most assignments these days.

      KFG
    • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:39AM (#16174663)
      That depends on what you're going for -- we used a similar system (maybe it was that exact site, can't remember) when I did some grading in college. A 27% match we would have completely ignored -- that's the kind of correlation you can get from all kinds of reasons, depending on the assignment and on what other assignments are out there. We'd only check out matches like 98%, 99%, on which it's almost impossible to get a "false positive"...
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        if you plaigerize and don't spend at least an hour chopping and rewording the document you are a failure at cheating.
    • by DrWho520 (655973)
      This is the major problem I see with this program. As I graduated from high school 9 years ago, I have no personal experience with this system. False positives would theoretically decrease as sample set size increased. However, I would imagine the styles of students all taught by the same English teacher and influenced by the same subject teacher (I have always adjusted my style from teacher to teacher depending upon their preferences) would appear very similar. All this system can do is compare letters
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jeremi (14640)
        All this system can do is compare letters, words and sentence length. It cannot compare ideas.


        A system that compared ideas would be fairly useless: how many different ideas can a school paper on an assigned topic have? Let's face it, most school papers are all about regurgitating someone else's ideas in your own words.

  • I would assume that student's work automatically becomes his/her IP. However rules and laws tend to "bend" a little at high school for some reason, so I'm not 100% sure.

    Has precedent ever been set in a case involving a homework as IP?

    Does a student work become school property or is some right ceded to the school (say, the right to publish or the like)? Is there a lawyer in the room?
    • by will_die (586523)
      In the USA everything you write is automaticlly copyrighted so the students original works would be the students; unless they were an employee of the school in that case any work done as an employee would be the employers.
      Also some universities have you sign away all rights to school work as a condition of enrollment. Since this is a high school would not apply.
      There have been some potential lawsuits dealing with things such as poety, photos, etc that have enforced this.
      However, I would guess that the s
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:26AM (#16174545)
    I think they should only submit (and hence keep) the papers that got a B or better. After all, if kids are dumb enough to plagarize C (or worse) papers, let them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by revery (456516)
      I think they should only submit (and hence keep) the papers that got a B or better. After all, if kids are dumb enough to plagarize C (or worse) papers, let them.

      It's an interesting thought, but it brings to mind a quote I heard years ago: "Do you know what they call a medical student who graduates with the lowest passing grade in his class? They call him a doctor."

  • by localman (111171) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:27AM (#16174555) Homepage
    Keep in mind that a large group, like a student committee or slashdot, the group can be vocal oppontents and vocal proponents of intellectual property in different cases without any individual actually contradicting themselves. But taking that into account, I'll be there are still a huge number of copyright violators who would be outraged if their own copyright was violated. I find that kind of double standard pretty lame and disappointingly common. And it's one of the many reasons that we haven't been able to get reasonable copyright limits in place... because so many people want infinite protection for their own ideas even though it's obvious that society functions better with a less restricted idea flow.

    At the moment I don't have anything popular enough to make a point with, but the creative projects [vendettachristmas.com]
    I have worked on [lisasleftovers.com] I've made freely available. I'd like to think that if I ever had a big hit song or movie that I'd release it into the public domain after a few years, maybe 14 like the founders allowed. Maybe sooner if I could do so financially.

    Cheers.
    • no one-EVER- looks at their financial statement- and says, I have enough....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonbryce (703250)
      There is a big difference between the two cases of "IP" infringement.

      Turnitin are doing it for profit, and that is generally considered more serious.

      I'm sure there are lots of people who think that infringing copyright for profit is a bad thing, but are quite happy with the idea of not for profit sharing of ideas. Although some people may disagree with the details of this particular opinion, it is a perfectly logical stance for someone to take, and there is no question of double standards.
  • The chances of false positives go up exponentially given a large enough population and small enough topic area.
  • by barik (160226)
    At my University, it was made pretty clear in several courses that homework assignments and other submitted course materials were property of the University. You can, of course, choose to keep your 'intellectual property', but then, good luck passing the course!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mccoma (64578)
      let me get this straight, I am paying them to take my rights away.
  • Personally, I don't think it is. The company makes money and increases the abilities of its product by adding the works of individuals it has not compensated. Either give consideration for the IP (at least $1) or don't add it.
  • it's likely that a sizable percentage of these students download copyrighted material from the Internet. Do you think any of them are concerned about IP rights then?

    Oh come on now. It's not really necessary to put a stupid question after each post. Obviously the fact that a sizable percentage are dishonest in no way suggests that there is not a single one who is not.

    The main issue here seems to be that the company keeps assignments indefinitely. By the time that becomes an issue, cheaters have already

  • FERPA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ctennenh (1000148)
    At least within a single institution this should fall within the FERPA rights of academic employees, even without student permission. As long as the information being archived, be it records, projects, papers, or whatever, relates to the academic success of the student, we can pass information among others within the academic dept. In other words, if I wanted to build such a database within the confines of my institution and allow all my fellow faculty to upload material to be cross-referenced with my own
    • In that case, the sensible thing to do would be for turnitin.com to create software that is sold to a department. The department then keeps track of its own papers.

  • Statistically speaking, it's likely that a sizable percentage of these students download copyrighted material from the Internet. Do you think any of them are concerned about IP rights then?"

    Irrelevant.

    "There is a high likelyhood that you might do A, therefore we must assume you also do B."

    This kind of tagline at the end of the post is unnecesary and silly. The fact that I go 10 miles per hour over the speed limit occasionally is no cause for my car to be impounded and searched for cocaine. Two wrongs neve
  • Statistically speaking, it's likely that a sizable percentage of these students download copyrighted material from the Internet. Do you think any of them are concerned about IP rights then?"

    I see.

    So we should only enforce the law when it is to the benefit of large corporations (Microsoft, IBM, Sony), politicians, media cartels (RIAA, MPAA, BPI) but not when the rights of individuals are infringed?

    As others have pointed out, false positives can ruin an otherwise honest student's prospects. After all, the

  • If TurnItIn.com paid students a bounty for every match of a plagairized document against their "original" in the database, they'd stop complaining. If most students aren't cheaters, but the submitters charge for the education they're "enforcing" (or charge a fine to cheaters), then there should be money for the smaller fraction who are used for cheating.

    This database is a lot like a registry of music performances, comparing against "cover" versions found in the wild. Except that the right to cover a song ca
  • Let's face it . . . there is a MASSIVE business in selling papers to students. Many are lazy and don't feel like doing their own work, hence there's a large, viable market for such a gig. As an example, when I attended a very large state university and lived in off-campus housing, there was a very well-known (in the area) lady whose sole, full-time occupation was selling papers out of her house (we'd first thought she was a drug dealer with the amount of traffic going to / from the house at all hours of d

  • by i)ave (716746) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:53AM (#16174805)
    A hypothetical: Freshman year, English 1001: Student writes a 7 page paper and develops a good idea that they try to remember. Junior year, Political Science 3001: Student no longer has a copy of their Freshman year paper, but still remembers, almost word for word, a key sentence or paragraph that they wrote years ago. They include this in their Political Science paper, submit to turnitin.com and are flagged as a plagarist . Turnitin.com does not tell them what paper it is they have plagarized, who wrote the original work (even though it happened to be them), nor does turnitin.com explain to the professor that the "plagarized" paragraph was originally written by the same student. How does the student get access to the supposed "orignal"? Furthermore, is it not possible that this system is based primarily on a "whoever turns it in first, is automatically the original author" type of system? Suppose someone writes a paper for their own pleasure, or even for an entry for some type of scholarship. Someone likes his paper so much that they make a copy and hold on to the paper. That someone has a class and is asked to write a very similar paper, maybe at a different school, and decides to plagarize the original author's paper and submits it to turnitin.com. However, because the original author had never submitted his paper to turnitin, turnitin now considers the plagarizer to be the "orignal author" of the paper. Fast forward to a few years later when the orignal author is in their senior year in college and decides to submit their paper for a class that is calling for him to write something over the exact topic he wrote about years ago. When he submits it to turnitin.com, he is labelled a plagarizer, and he has absolutely no recourse nor any way to clear his name.
    • self-plagarism (Score:4, Informative)

      by LordEd (840443) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:41AM (#16175333)
      My former college has rules against self-plagarism [okanagan.bc.ca]:
      Self-plagiarism is the submission of work that is the same or substantially the same as work prepared or performed by the student for credit in another course (except in instances where the instructor receiving the work has given prior permission). Work includes but is not limited to essays, term papers, projects, and assignments. Although self-plagiarism may not involve the intellectual theft that characterizes plagiarism (as defined in Definition-1 above), it is a form of academic misconduct and is subject to the same disciplinary actions as plagiarism. All Procedures for the Plagiarism Policy as outlined below will apply to this Policy.
      • Re:self-plagarism (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lord Ender (156273) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @04:56PM (#16178309) Homepage
        Wow. Your school sucks. At my school, most profs would explicitly say that it is OK to use your personal work from another class if the assignments were the same.

        I never heard of ANYONE getting in trouble for doing so.

        If you retook a class, you could resubmit the homework.

        The only reason for teachers to want to stop "self plagiarism" is because it would demonstrate how lazy and inconsistent they are about grading.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First, let me say, I understand these students' feelings of mistrust. But let me offer another perspective. I teach at a small institution with about 2000 active students on my campus. We moved to using Turnitin because of rampant problems with plagiarism. I have had students give me exactly the same paper in two different terms and claim they were both original. These were not isolated cases either, it happened all the time. These students often either failed the course, or worse, got expelled. Since we ha

      • by i)ave (716746) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @04:00PM (#16177929)
        Lastly, and this will be shocking since I am an academic, but this IP / privacy obsession we have in this country is getting out of hand. Many people seem to have the impression that every precious thought from their head deserves protection and eternal ownership. In fact, most of it is not that interesting and will not benefit them financially. In the long run, obsessing over IP is dangerous. If we choke our transmission of original and useful ideas with overzealous IP rights, we will cease to transmit ideas. The rest of the world will be glad to take over for us in this area and they will if we are not careful. This does not mean I support the idea that ALL information should be free. But in the context of Turnitin, is that English paper you wrote for freshman comp, or even your senior thesis that financially valuable? If you are a good student, wouldn't you like to help the catch the cheaters? After all, they get the same degree you do in the end, even if they cheat to do it.
        I think it's odd that for so many in this country, an original thought is only worth protecting if it can generate money. That certainly seems to be a double-standard. Why is it acceptable for the RIAA, Microsoft, MPAA, Disney to have over 100 years of protection for their various forms of original thought, but a college student is entitled to none? Ostensibly, your argument seems to suggest that since a kid can't generate any money from their research paper, it's not worth protecting their right to ownership of it. Moreover, your argument seems to be that turnitin.com should profit from the college student's original work simply because the student isn't using it for profit. I guess what's good for the goose, is not really good for the gander in your mind (sorry, I don't have a paranthetical citation for this sentence).
  • Do I want an employer to look at a paper I wrote about a controversial subject(totally unrelated to work) in freshman year? Honestly I think that if students knew that their paper was going to be shared with more than them and their English teacher I would object too. I think that I would have much less candor and thus learn much less both about the subject at hand as well as myself if I knew my paper was going to be recorded for many people to see for perpetuity. I also think it would hamper my skills a
  • by RobinH (124750) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @09:54AM (#16174825) Homepage
    This only works if the essay was submitted electronically. Wayyy back when I was in high school we could only submit the essays in paper form, preferrably typed (but they did allow us to write it out in neat hand writing). Does this high school require that people submit their essays in electronic form? I would think that if you submitted all your work on paper then you'd at least force the teachers to scan the document before submitting it (making it that much more work). Or if you submitted it handwritten, there's no way they would sit there and type it in to submit it to a website.

    Of course, if you're actually going to go through the trouble of writing it out by hand, you're probably not plagiarizing either. But at least it would help to protect your IP.
  • While no document is signed to the fact, couldn't one argue that the papers are considered IP of the college since they were written at the behest of the college (professor)? Most work places take control if IP developed using their tools or during their time, which is sometimes taken back in court by the creator (to the point that some explicitely state "work for us, we own your IP").

    Not that I necessarily disagree with these students; if I write something insightful during my college career, I would like
  • a sizable percentage of these

    Wrong, wrong, wrong ! It always raises my blood pressure above the skies when I see [regarding any topic] that the analysts/writers/etc. start by saying most of the people are criminals anyway so it doesn't matter. Stupid and outrageous assumption. Why couldn't a student raise his/her voice when (s)he feels _any_ of his/her rights might be violated or just simply not taken into consideration ? Why should anybody feel like living in a goddamn' prison ?

    No, I'm not a student who'd
  • by multisync (218450) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @10:59AM (#16175527) Journal
    How about requiring movie producers to submit their scripts, to make sure it's not the same old recycled plots and 70s tv shows, with a soundtrack filled with remakes of pop "classics" and thinly disguised rip-offs they hope the audience is too young to catch on to?
  • Copyright Notices? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BobSutan (467781) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @11:54AM (#16176069)
    Looks like its time to start using copyright laws to our own advantage. I can see a day, sooner rather than later, when each and every paper I write has the following attached to the bottom, similar to what websites already do today:

    Copyright 2006 [Insert author's name here]. All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form.
    Hey, if its good enough for the NBA, NFL, etc for protecting their works then it should suffice for a student paper, right?
  • by feronti (413011) <gsymonsNO@SPAMgsconsulting.biz> on Sunday September 24, 2006 @12:01PM (#16176123)
    Apparently, none of these students have read the IP policy at their school. At least at my University, anything you turn in for a grade becomes the property of the University. By turning it in, you have implicitly waived your intellectual property rights over it anyway. Granted, I don't think that's fair in the first place, but the simple fact is that many of the students don't have any rights to the papers to begin with.
    • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday September 24, 2006 @01:35PM (#16176941) Journal
      At least at my University, anything you turn in for a grade becomes the property of the University.
      I don't thik this is possible. Copyright laws have strict requirement over what constitutes a copyright transfer and it requires a specific conveyance of the copyrights. So, an agreement made at the beginning of your studies can't possibly convey something that does not exist, nor can a policy possibly be construed as an instrument of conveyance.

      What might be possible is that you grant a license to the university that allows the university to do whatever it likes with your papers, but you still own the copyright.

      Check out section 204 of the copuright code [copyright.gov]

      Probably the university owns the physical copy of the paper that you turned in, but not the underlying copyrights.

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