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The Antiplagiarism Trap

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Turnabout is fair play, it seems: Four high school students in Virginia are suing the popular antiplagiarism Web service Turnitin for what they say is copyright infringement.

Some 100,000 student papers are uploaded each day to Turnitin, which checks them against other papers and online sources and then adds them to its ever-expanding database. When suspicions of plagiarism arise, teachers can share the papers—without the students' names attached—for further analysis.

The four students’ suit, which asks for $150,000 per paper submitted by each of them, argues that Turnitin is essentially profiting from their work and violating their privacy rights. “The suit is not about plagiarism; it’s about the school forcing the students to turn over their work to a for-profit company,” says the father of one plaintiff.

The company maintains that it does not divulge any information about the students whose work is in its system, and that its product simply uses available technology to provide an essential service. “This really is a social good to make sure that students who are not doing their own work are not rewarded for that,” says John Barrie, the president of Turnitin's parent company, iParadigms.

3 Comments

This is interesting.
I wonder if teachers are experiencing any other kinds of problems with using technology with their students.

Denise E.

This program attempts to help students learn what plagiarism is. It may be are very helpful to them when they get to college where the penalties are much more severe. It's difficult to understand who could be hurt by this process.

I teach a fairly comprehensive lesson on Internet Ethics at my high school. Students need to know about plagiarism and how to do their own work. I think these students are very wrong and are trying to justify their poor personal values and make some money while making excuses for their poor personal charachters.

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