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Turnitin.com lawsuitFYI, here's a link to NCTE's article on this case, if anyone is...

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 23, 2008 at 5:09 AM via web

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Turnitin.com lawsuit

FYI, here's a link to NCTE's article on this case, if anyone is interested:

Judge: Turnitin.com Doesn't Violate Copyright Laws
A federal district court judge rules that storing papers in Turnitin's online database for the purpose of comparison is permissible.  eSchool News, April 17, 2008

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 23, 2008 at 5:26 AM (Answer #2)

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Hallelujah!  A win for teachers everywhere.  In a world where more and more often the integrity of teaching are put aside in order to enable an increasingly unprepared and unmotivated youth..... this is a strong statement towards academic rigor!

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clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 23, 2008 at 7:34 AM (Answer #3)

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I was so happy to hear it, I was following the case, which I thought was pretty ridiculous to begin with considering all that turnitin has done for teachers and professors everywhere. I love turnitin.com and I bet the people who launched the case were all copiers themselves! :)

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted April 23, 2008 at 8:27 PM (Answer #4)

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Thank goodness!  I think Turnitin.com is a great site.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 24, 2008 at 5:33 AM (Answer #5)

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That's great!  Thanks for the link...I have printed the article and posted it in our teacher workroom.  I know there will be whooping and celebrating all day (week) long, and Lord knows we need that this time of year.  I can barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, but by golly, it's there!  :)

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marffle | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 30, 2008 at 10:19 PM (Answer #6)

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Have you considered some of the further reaching effects of the ruling in this case? It makes me uneasy that students participating in a public school can be forced to sign contracts, despite being minors, requiring them to surrender their work to be archived in a database for another party’s profit. Is it ethical to turn a profit off of software that is dependent on student papers to function, essentialy profiting off of student labor? Remember, it would be child labor if they are under 18.

Though the ruling talks about choices that the student has, namely home schooling or private schools, and the benefit they obtain from the contract, namely passing the class, it is hard to see how, in practical terms, the students had much of either. They did not choose the school, they did not choose to take the class and, for most, private school or home schooling is not a practical option.

It may be time to re-evaluate the rights a student has in their work within a classroom setting. Though I agree that schools should have the right to decide how to check their students’ work for plagiarism, it seems to me that elements of this ruling might have implications that go far beyond just plagiarism checking software.

When courts can rule students have “choice” in required classes in a public school and gain “benefit” by simply allowing them to pass, they can push students to do many other things than agree to a clickwrap license. I find that worrisome.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 1, 2008 at 7:09 AM (Answer #7)

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Have you considered some of the further reaching effects of the ruling in this case? It makes me uneasy that students participating in a public school can be forced to sign contracts, despite being minors, requiring them to surrender their work to be archived in a database for another party’s profit. Is it ethical to turn a profit off of software that is dependent on student papers to function, essentialy profiting off of student labor? Remember, it would be child labor if they are under 18.

Though the ruling talks about choices that the student has, namely home schooling or private schools, and the benefit they obtain from the contract, namely passing the class, it is hard to see how, in practical terms, the students had much of either. They did not choose the school, they did not choose to take the class and, for most, private school or home schooling is not a practical option.

It may be time to re-evaluate the rights a student has in their work within a classroom setting. Though I agree that schools should have the right to decide how to check their students’ work for plagiarism, it seems to me that elements of this ruling might have implications that go far beyond just plagiarism checking software.

When courts can rule students have “choice” in required classes in a public school and gain “benefit” by simply allowing them to pass, they can push students to do many other things than agree to a clickwrap license. I find that worrisome.

I think the whole point of "requiring them to surrender their work to be archived in a database" is the protection of their intellectual property. Turnitin.com is not profitting off of an individual student's work; rather, it is offering the service of safeguarding that student's work against being used by some other student.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 1, 2008 at 11:56 AM (Answer #8)

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I would probably be more concerned about the contract if students were going to use their work in, for instance, a literary magazine or student newspaper. But even if the work were going to be used in an outside publication, the stipulations that turnitin.com has laid down do not prohibit the work from being used in another "academic" sense -- they are intended only to discourage cheating.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 3:09 PM (Answer #9)

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I agree with other editors here in recognising the work that this site does and also the stance they take against plagiarism. Obviously turnitin.com does have the potential to abuse the priviliges they are given by having unprecedented access to a large number of students' work, but at the same time we have to trust the safeguards and promises that are put in place and recognise that the wider problem of plagiarism and the easy access of so many essays on line demands some kind of response, and until we have a better solution, let us all applaud the work of turnitin.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 5:32 PM (Answer #10)

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Nice.  But even this site is not the answer to the bigger problem--we have too many lazy students and WAY too manyaccessible ways to cheat via the Internet.

My fear is that if we can't do something, like the contract, to let students know we're going to hold them accountable, they won't feel any compunctions about "borrowing" material and calling it their own. 

In one of my college comp classes, a student wrote a paper for me (not plagiarized, not that good) and then gave or sold a corrected version of it to another student who turned it in for another class.  Both were dismissed from the university, but this is indicative of the laziness and boldness which students often have.

When I assign the major research paper (5,000 words) to my senior comp class, I warn them I'll be checking every citation against every original source, so their work had better be accurate.  (I know, I know--I'm crazy. Does it help to know I only have 20 or so students in this class?)  Anyway, I'm always stunned at the errors and mistakes and plagiarisms, most unintentional but some fairly blatant.  I always wonder what they would have "settled for" without this incentive to do it correctly.

Even worse, I'm fairly convinced many, if not most, students would say they see nothing wrong with taking writing from the Internet and calling it their own.  After all, they had to find it.  Sigh.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted July 18, 2010 at 5:01 PM (Answer #11)

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I think the most valuable feature of turnitin is not the internet plagerism, but the copying of work within our school.  It is not as easy to turn in a friend's or sibling's work when the student knows it may come back through this program.  I teach in a very large school district, and we know that this can be a problem.

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lnorton | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 18, 2010 at 7:08 PM (Answer #12)

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I also think that the presence of the system itself tends to dissuade students from plagiarizing. I've often overheard conversations about how tough it was when they attended schools that used turnitin.

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