Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Students Protest Turnitin.com

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the but-i-want-to-cheat-now dept.

1038

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?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

my school (3, Interesting)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Well (3, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174491)

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 (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#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:Well (4, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174593)

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.

Re:Well (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174751)

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.

Re:Well (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174839)

You can easily make a fair use argument, it's being used purely for educational, non-profit purposes. And let's be honest, none of these students is actually producing anything that's inherently valuable, we're talking high school level papers here. Their proprietary attitude towards the utterly useless things they're writing is kind of amusing.

Re:Well (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174865)

It doesn't matter. Copyright is copyright.

Re:Well (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174831)

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 fair, maybe it should be changed, maybe TII.com is the catalyst for that change. But I doubt it's currently unresolved.

Re:Well (2, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174595)

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 using this service to check my work for plagiarism. But, if the service is retaining a copy of my work for checking other submissions, they would be using my IP without my permission. I'm sure that their TOS/EULA says that uploading my work for screening says that I'm granting them that permission. But, if the school is doing the checking -- I am not the one granting the permission.

A university could require that I grant them this authority as a condition for admission. But, a public high-school shouldn't be doing this. The students may have to turn to the state legislature for a remedy.

Students can apparently use the service to check their work before submission for grading. This is voluntary, so there's no reason that retention for screening other papers cannot be stipulated as a condition for doing so -- although one could argue that a draft shouldn't be retained. But, when submitting a paper for grading, the school should be able to specify that it is not to be retained by the service.

Re:Well (1)

Rydia (556444) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174619)

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 (4, Insightful)

MoneyT (548795) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174689)

The problem is, the students are not employed. They recieve no compensation for their work.

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174719)

Try your line of argument the next time you deal with a wedding photographer and see how far it gets you.

Re:Well (2, Informative)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174791)

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.

Re:Well (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174811)

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.

Re:Well (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174673)

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 way - it is with research projects. So technically the student has zero say in what is done with their work. It belongs to the school.

Frankly I think this is a good idea. It makes students actually be original and creative, applying what they've learned to actually accomplish what their professors have asked for, rather than copying someone elses work. Furthermore it provides a common database of reference papers. They could turn it into a huge Wikipedia type database with hundreds of thousands of contributors. And the documents would actually have legitimate references!

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174759)

That being said, why not just add Wikipedia to the database and catch 99.9% of students, heh.
Sure sounds fine... of course they would they have to re-release all the content under their site under the GFDL... which of course they can't since they don't own the copyright on all the stuff in the turnitin database.

Frankly turnitin is an IP nightmare and it should be pretty clear that they did not take proper measures to obtain permission to have all the data in their database. I've taught in a class that used turnitin and the students were never asked if they gave licenses to their work, allowing a copy to be given to turnitin (and subsequent copies to be made from turnitin to other institutes when that paper becomes part of a "copying positive" case)...

Re:Well (2, Funny)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174789)

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%.

Re:Well (1)

Matilda the Hun (861460) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174849)

Or you could do it the easy way and just google it. If 99% came from Wikipedia, .9% came from the first google result that isn't wikipedia.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174815)

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.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if they get rid of the paper after checking it against the database, how in the world is the database going to grow? The only reason this service is useful is because when a paper is submitted, they add it to their database, thereby allowing them to check for plagiarism on that paper as well. I suspect that you've never used turnitin.com before.

As for students complaining that their intellectual property rights are being stepped on, this service is actually doing them a service by protecting their IP rights. When a student submits paper to turnitin.com they're submitting themselves to a plagiarism check, true, but they're also ensuring that no one else is going to use their paper without crediting the original author.

Not all are hypocrites I'm sure (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174495)

"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.

It does not matter if they are concerned (2, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 did not say that. (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174515)

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.

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174539)

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.

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174717)

and slap a nice and long eula at the end

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174851)

and slap a nice and long eula at the end

Better yet, put the essay in a sealed envelope, and the terms of the EULA on the outside, with the "by opening this envelope you agree to the following terms and conditions ..."

Better from a legal point of view than the "shrinkwrap click-through EULAs", which you can't even read until you're actually running the product for the first time.

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

Virtex (2914) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174559)

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.

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174779)

Tangential point, but there are some circumstances in which a minor can be bound by a contract, though none of them apply in this situation.

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174569)

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?

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174723)

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

There are no such thing as mechanical royalties for a written work. You do not need explicit persmission to reproduce a song, you only need to inform the rights holder that you have done so and profer a fee whose maximum is set by law. That's why radio stations keep play lists.

Reproduction of an essay must be explicitly negotiated with the rights holder, who has the right to demand a price set by him.

Although both cases are issues of copyright, there is a bit of an apples and oranges thing going on here, since each case is covered by code unique to the media.

KFG

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (1)

Richthofen80 (412488) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174739)

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 Intellectual Property rights allow him to disclose exactly who 'sees' the paper including the prying eyes of a server somewhere, then I would argue you are incorrect. The student cannot be guarunteed that the paper won't be read aloud to other students, faculty... it may be email forwarded to other staff members. The paper essentially becomes the property of the professor; it was procured for that professor's class to determine the aptitude of the student with regards to the material learned.

In effect, the database actually PROTECTS the IP of the students and professors who had original ideas in the first place that were stolen.

Re:It does not matter if they are concerned (0)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174827)

The difference is that the hypocrisy diminishes any moral high ground for them.

Besides, the school does own the works you do for them, the papers you turn in, etc. I really don't know by what means they do get it though.

Loaded question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174517)

"Two wrongs don't make a right!"

IP rights are the least of it (4, Interesting)

runlevel 5 (977409) | more than 8 years ago | (#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:IP rights are the least of it (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174597)

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

Re:IP rights are the least of it (5, Informative)

Garse Janacek (554329) | more than 8 years ago | (#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"...

Re:IP rights are the least of it (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174833)

if you plaigerize and don't spend at least an hour chopping and rewording the document you are a failure at cheating.

Re:IP rights are the least of it (1)

DrWho520 (655973) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174763)

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, words and sentence length. It cannot compare ideas.

Intellectual property (1)

secolactico (519805) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174527)

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?

Re:Intellectual property (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174765)

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 school and Turnitin.com could get away with it under fair use since they are not effecting the sales of the item. Also turnitin.com could be considered just a search engine like google.

Whiners (0, Troll)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174531)

The pot calling the kettle black. What else is new?

Sauce for the goose.......? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174543)

Well, if the school wants to enforce the IP rules, then they have to abide by them as well.

Can't have it both ways. Tough. What's good for one is good for the other.

Quality, not quantity (4, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Questioning their motives is moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174553)

Whether you believe their motives to be more effective cheating or true IP rights concerns they certainly have the right to fight against this.

Quite frankly I can't see many students who are actively cheating being proactive enough to protest such a situation.

Groups can properly contradict themselves (3, Insightful)

localman (111171) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174555)

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.

maybe sooner if I could do so financially... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174703)

no one-EVER- looks at their financial statement- and says, I have enough....

IANAIPL, but... (1)

pshumate (1004477) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174561)

Let me preface this by saying that I don't know the full extent of IP law. But I am a teacher (college, not high school), and I can tell you that the vast majority of my students don't know, much less care about, their IP. My guess is, one or two students heard of the term and spread the word about it to the rest. And this would be fine, if they hadn't (in my opinion) misrepresented it. Their works are being submitted to help protect the IP rights of others as well as themselves. You have to apply for a patent, which is checked against other patents, before the right to that knowledge becomes yours. Same for a copyright, if I understand. And the software manufacturer isn't profiting off of your IP itself, just a way to check it against the IP of others. Just my thoughts, of course.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174621)

They let you teach from a perspective of such ignorace?

Copyright is automatic unless explicitly surrendered

Oh, but it IS profiting off of the IP (4, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174623)

"And the software manufacturer isn't profiting off of your IP itself, just a way to check it against the IP of others"

See, the thing is, they are selling this service to other schools and institutions. The service they are selling relies on the IP, and as a result, they are making money off of IP which they acquired from students without their consent. That's the problem.

Re:Oh, but it IS profiting off of the IP (1)

pshumate (1004477) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174729)

I wonder if TurnItIn has clearly delineated what limits they have when it comes to using the IP. I would imagine they have, but have probably not spread that knowledge.

Even with such a limit, does that give them the right to use the IP? Maybe not.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (2, Insightful)

a10waveracer (862795) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174653)

IANAL either, but it would seem to me that they would be profiting from your IP. Sure, they are only using it to check against, but if you (as the student) don't explicitly allow them use of it, they are still profiting from your IP, whether or not they are profiting off of it insofar as selling copies of it. The bottom line is that schools have to pay for this service, and are paying, in part, to violate their student's IP rights. I don't view this as a way of protecting their IP rights -- if you are an upstanding student, then you will not make your essay available to anyone in any way, and therefore you don't want your IP rights to be violated. If you make your paper available, then you are allowing others to use your IP.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (1, Insightful)

pshumate (1004477) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174707)

I don't see this as directly profiting oof their IP, but more the process to check that IP against the IP of others. I am perfectly willing to be wrong in this case, but that's just my belief. Keep in mind that this belief is heavily biased by my experience as a teacher.

That doesn't mean I'm right, of course. :) A teacher should never claim to be perfect, but always willing to learn.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (2, Informative)

Zaxor (603485) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174655)

IANAIPL either, but you have a serious error in your post. Copyrights are NOT like patents. If you create an "original work of authorship," it is automatically copyrighted without you having to do a thing, and without any checks against previous copyrights.

Not to say that there isn't case law covering the student-teacher case, but the basic jist is that the students do automatically have copyrights on whatever original papers they write.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (1)

pshumate (1004477) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174681)

Okay, I agree that copyright is automatically created with the creation of work, but isn't there some "official" process which makes defending that copyright a bit easier?

Re:IANAIPL, but... (1)

Zaxor (603485) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174725)

Yup. You can (and are encouraged) to register your work with the Copyright Office... doing this or not doing this does not affect the validity of your copyright, but it can increase the amount of damages you can receive. More importantly, registration serves as prima facie evidence of validity of your copyright if you get into a dispute.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (2, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174679)

My problem is that they are profiting of my IP. They sell licences for this service to people (I tried to find out how much for but you need to apply for a quote). So they take my work and then use that as the basis for their business which makes money. I get no benifit out of this "service". I wouldn't even be as bad if they gave the students something back for it either financial or something for them as a whole.

If I was to take a copy of a peice of work from an "artist" and just keep a copy I bet you I'd be getting sued. If that is the new rules of the game then can you blame people for playing them?

Re:IANAIPL, but... (1)

oscartheduck (866357) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174769)

"And the software manufacturer isn't profiting off of your IP itself, just a way to check it against the IP of others."

You don't teach programming, do you? What's going on here is the software manufacturer has an algorithm that performs a comparison and assigns based upon that comparison a value of the likelihood that this essay was copied. Without the algorithm, the database of papers would be useless for quick comparison. Without the database, the algorithm would be useless for anything at all. Each is useless without the other, so in a very real way the software manufacturer *does* need the IP of the students to have a viable product.

As has been stated elsewhere, the student automatically is granted copyright upon the student's paper. Without asking for permission to retain a full copy of that paper, the student's copyright has been violated. It doesn't matter that your opinion of student's awareness of their rights is that their knowledge is low, there is still a set of laws protecting those rights that are being broken.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (1)

tribecom (1005035) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174799)

You're right...you don't know the full extent of IP law. In fact, you don't have a clue about it. Patents and copyright are two wholly different things.

Re:IANAIPL, but... (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174853)

Let me preface this by saying that I don't know the full extent of IP law

the rest of your post makes that very clear

Condition of attendance (1)

joe545 (871599) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174563)

This will only make schools (if they don't already) make students sign waivers that grants them (and associates) the ability to retain a copy of their work for the purpose of detecting cheating. Can this group not see that it's in their interest academically to root out cheating so that everyone is forced to work and learn if they want to pass?

Re:Condition of attendance (1)

a10waveracer (862795) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174691)

That's not the argument though. These students are saying their IP rights are being violated without their consent, not that they are being violated after signing a paper. Had they signed a contract at the start of the year stating that they agreed to getting their essays checked/stored, then they would have no argument. However, afaik, they have not signed any such document and, as such, have a legit argument in my view.

stupid post (0, Redundant)

Kludge (13653) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174567)

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?"

What kind of shit-ass stupid post is this?
1. Of course people download copyrighted material from the internet. Most material on the internet is copyrighted, but by placing
on the internet, people are extending to me the right to read it.
2. This company is storing students' papers in their database and using them without permission. This is a completely different situation.

Re:stupid post (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174745)

Does that mean when a musician's copyrighted work is placed on the internet by someone else without permission, the musician is extending to you the right to listen to it?

I think it's a good question on the part of the submitter. Why should students be upset about their IP rights when many/most of them aren't at all concerned about the IP rights of their favorite bands? And yes, it is hypocritical.

Re:stupid post (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174845)

So... are your IP rights gone because you're a slashdotter, and most slashdotters aren't concerned about IP rights?

They should first look at the teachers for plagiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174575)

They have such a developed system in place for keeping those terrible "plagiarizing" students. What about the teachers? Do they care when a teacher uses a copyrighted image they downloaded in a lesson? Or uncredited material for their lessons?

Lets scan the teaching material into a database and see what qualifies as plagiarism, and fire any teachers guilty. Surly the teachers should be held to the same standard, if not a -higher- standard than the students, so they should have no problem with this. Or maybe not...

Re:They should first look at the teachers for plag (1)

nixman99 (518480) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174683)

What about the teachers? Do they care when a teacher uses a copyrighted image they downloaded in a lesson? Or uncredited material for their lessons?

Under fair use [wikipedia.org] , copyrighted material can be used for educational purposes. If the teachers are trying to pass the work off as their own, or photocopying entire textbooks, then it's another matter.

Law of Big Numbers (1)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174581)

The chances of false positives go up exponentially given a large enough population and small enough topic area.

Innocent until proven guilty (0, Redundant)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174587)

> "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?"

That's an awful comment, for it assumes those objecting are those plagiarizing.

We are not Cheaters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174603)

As another early member of the don't turn it in movement and friend of most of the main proponents of the movement, I want to emphasize the fact that the students really behind this are not cheaters. News of the mandatory use of turn it in came as a slap in the face to me, the policy of treating all students as cheaters just makes the cheaters find a way around the system but those with integrity are the ones who truly fight for change.

Many others will classify the movement as just your average rebelling against the man and while this movement obviously attracts those known for this, it is unfair to calssify the movement in that way. I'll try to dig up the ltter to the editor of our school paper that started it all. When reading it, one doesn't see it as a bratty teenage rebellion, but rather the concepts evoked in it make it sound truly Jeffersonian.

-Matthew Boehm

Re:We are not Cheaters (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174771)

Here is the text of the petition circulated in our school:

"A PETITION from the students and Concerned Citizens of McLean High School and their associates

TO Principal Paul Wardinski and the Administration of McLean High School.
WE undersigned, believe and hold that that by mandating that original student works be submitted to the archives of the for-profit online anti-plagiarism program "Turnitin.com," the administration subverts and violates the basic rights of student authors.
We hold that the basic rights of student authors are as follows:
1. To expect that any original composition will be considered the authors property and with respect to the guidelines of Fairfax County Public School's Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy.
2. To expect their work will not be used by or submitted for use to any for-profit company or endeavor without the authors' written permission.
3. To expect that any use or their work for Fair-Use reference will be properly cited using MLA format.
4. To expect that a teacher will restrict access to the students' work to themselves their immediate peers, and their direct supervisors except under circumstances in which such restriction of access would be a clear violation of the law or express permission is given by the author to share their work.
5. To expect that the student will not be coerced into waiving these rights.

We hold that the subversion and violation of these basic rights by the administration is inconsistent with the administration's duty to defend the rights of the student body. This duty is stated repeatedly in the Student Rights and Responsibility Handbook which we and all students are expected to acknowledge and adhere to.

We demand that the Administration recognize our basic rights as student authors. We demand that the administration immediately ceases to mandate that students use Turnitin.com or any similar anti-plagiarism program on written assignments. We demand that Turnitin.com shall only be used in singular properly documented anti-plagiarism action in which the accused knows their accuser and is given the chance to declare their innocence. We demand that the Administration returns to and emphasizes methods of plagiarism detection which do not violate the basic rights of the student authors e.g. requirement of comprehensive bibliographies citation of sources, and actual cross-check of all sources and references by instructors.

By presenting this petition, we fo not intend to subvert the authority vested in the Principal and the administration, nor do we intend to advocate any kind of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty. Rather, we intend to address an issue which is of the utmost concern to us as students of the Fairfax County Public Schools and responsible citizens of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia using a means specifically reserved for those entities.

Sincerely Yours,
The Undersigned"

        -Matthew Boehm

Been there ... (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174607)

Last year, four guys and myself had to write a paper and present it. We figured the best way was for everyone to write a section. Now, when submitting it to a similar service (one in Sweden), the paper came back four times as plagiarism. Guess what? The same guy continued submiting copyrighted stuff, hoping that the database wouldn't contain every paper under the sun.

Property of University (2, Interesting)

barik (160226) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174609)

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:Property of University (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174677)

I believe that is called blackmail, and is considered a very serious crime.

Re:Property of University (1)

SQFreak (844876) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174775)

Well, that's kind of ridiculous, but the point is, you had the choice to take that class or not, and you were told ahead of time that your work became property of the school. In this case, the students have no choice as to whether or not to take the class that requires them to submit your to Turnitin (they're public school students who are districted for the school).

How is this different from Gracenote (1)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174617)

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.

Come on now... (1)

Garse Janacek (554329) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174631)

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 been caught -- that is, if turnitin.com didn't save their assignments, it wouldn't help them cheat in any way unless a large number of other schools also started making the same demands (even then maybe not, as long as there was still a good enough sampling of fake papers from elsewhere). The only way I can see that the students could still be dishonest about this is if they were hoping to sell the assignment or in other ways enable cheating by other students. Maybe that's the motivation behind this group, but I kind of doubt it.

FERPA (2, Insightful)

ctennenh (1000148) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174641)

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 students' material then I could.

Re:FERPA (1)

oscartheduck (866357) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174807)

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.

The real issue is money (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174647)

While it is annoying for people to be copying your work with you having no choice in the matter, it's even worse if they then are going to be using it to make money. If the company simply were to have massives servers full of students work that was just sitting there it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but they're making money off of it.

By saving every piece of work submitted they can say "Not only do we search for their work online, but we also have a collection of X billion submitted papers." This will attract new business and help the company to grow, the only problem is that it isn't the company themselves that's doing the work. Students are writing papers, being forced to submit them to the service, and that helps the service grow as a company, but they don't see a dime of the profits.

Not only that but we used it at my Highschool the last year I was there and it was terrible. My friend wrote a biography where he said "He was born in Newark." and it flagged him because another website had that same sentence. However if you went and took pages straight out of online databases (EBSCO Host and the like) it never caught you because it doesn't have access to that material. All in all a terrible system.

irrelevant (1)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174649)


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 never, ever, make a right. If someone is downloading an MP3 off the internet, it may be illegal, but it doesn't give a body of people the right to violate their privacy on a completely unrelated matter.

~Wx

Statistically speaking? WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174657)

"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?"

Statistically speaking, a portion of the American population are rapists. Do you think any of them should be concerned if every citizen got raped?

Lowest denominator (1)

Glacial Wanderer (962045) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174669)

"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?"

Just don't forget that statistically speaking there are many students who don't download copyrighted material. Do you think they are concerned about IP rights? I think some of them are. Beyond being weak I think this IP augment is irrelevant. However, I do see a stronger argument that could be made over legal use issues. One could say that entering these articles into a database is similar to what search engines do with web pages. There is an important difference. Websites are designed with the understanding that everyone will be able to view them; however, papers aren't. My believe is that this plagiarism data base is a good intention, but crosses the fine line of fair use.

Get the **AA to help (1)

dwarfking (95773) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174675)

So if the students put copyright notices on their work before they turn it into the school, and the school and Turnitin.com make copies, the students should ask the **AA lawyers to help them fight this piracy. They could make the claim that they are being taught piracy in school, which means it isn't their fault they are taking music.

Breakin' the Law (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174697)

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 point-haired mindset doesn't just pervade middle management in corporations. It affects techers, law enforcers, politicians, government burocrats, journalists, slashdotters.

Oh look! A shiny computerised system! It must be right! I can't understand how it works, therefore it must be very clever and always right! All students (private citizens, civillians, voters, consumers) are fundamentally dishonest law-breakers and deserve my contempt.

Grrrr. Time for my daily drink and drugs coctail. Hand me my pills and whisky.

IP rights on your high school essays? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174701)

Technically, the students are correct. In writing the essay, they are automatically granted copyright, unless they state otherwise. Adding essays to this dadabase violates their copyright. You can't actually argue with this, because it's the law.

A solution is not hard to find. Students simply have to agree to have their essays added to this database, and if they don't agree to do so, you can take of points or just fail the kid altogether. Remember, High School isn't a democracy.

Personally, even as a High School student who also does a lot of outside writing (which I do copyright), I never hand anything into my school that has any value outside it's respective class. But I see where these people are coming from - your rights shouldn't be violated, whether or not you need them

Services like Turnitin aren't the magical bullet to the cheating problem. For starters, most students cheat off the internet, not each other. And this only accounts for one type of cheating - many students are starting to take notes from the internet as well, which is a problem with classes that grade you based on the quality of your notes. Trading answers over instant messengers is extremely common. And, 99% of the time, the students are never caught.

On an open notes quiz, one of my previous teachers noticed the same phrase used over and over; upon further investigation, that teacher found out that those students had copied the same Sparknotes pages into their notes and where using them for the quiz. And this was a 10th grade English "honors" class. So don't think that plagiarism is limited to the lower kids.

Here's an idea... (1)

ectotherm (842918) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174709)

How do we keep students from copying papers? Back in the "olden" days, a.k.a. pre-World Wide Web, your average student had to actually "copy" a paper manually. Word processors made it easier, but the World WIde Web really opened the door to wholesale plagiarism. Maybe we need a solution that doesn't infringe too much on IP rights, but doesn't make student work sacrosanct. Is having a copy of your paper in a database so that it can be used to help catch plagiarism really so bad? It isn't like this database of papers is going to be used to generate $$ because of the content of the papers. To me, it is sort of like TIVO-ing Major League Baseball- you can record it to watch the game later, but need explicit permission to "rebroadcast" it, meaning if you plan to make $$ from it, etc. I think its fair to do the same with student papers- keep a copy for "permissible" (used lightly- not in the legal sense) purposes of stopping plagiarism/cheating. I understand the whole "IP" argument, that your work is yours alone, but I feel that it is being used in this case as a "technicality" argument by students who do not want this database to exist. Sort of like using the First Amendment argument to say/do something controversial.

And Then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174713)

Now, let's staple on a good ol' google search of the DB, let anyone use it freely, and voila! instant and accessible research for all!

Oh wait. These are high school papers, aren't they? And to think... it alsmost seemed like a good idea...

Another idea (1)

ectotherm (842918) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174755)

If you really want to keep students from cheating, make more of the papers into oral presentations. That way, even if the student copies a paper verbatim, they will end up having to learn something as they will need to practice/rehearse/prepare for it.

yuo 7ail it! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174783)

"Intellectual" property ... (1)

jabberwock (10206) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174787)

I suppose one could also argue that turnitin.com is a *champion* of intellectual property, since it is deterring or preventing the "theft" of original work. As an author [beautyfromafar.com] -- well, this stuff comes up. "Can I use the material in your book if I link to it?" Fair use isn't well understood.

I'd love to have available as a 'Net service a site that identifies who said what, first. It can be time-consuming to track down all the George Carlin hoax material ...

It would also be interesting to come up with some sort of "fair use" score generator ... copying a full work without attribution would get a zero or less. It would take a pretty fancy algorithm to judge a skillful rewrite. ;-)

I can see the students' point, though. "Opt out," which they advocate, might be the way to go. Turnitin.com already has enough material to function as a deterrent. I don't think the students are suggesting that the schools have no right to compare current material to the DB ... it's the *adding* of material.

-jeff

"Doth Protest Too Much" - WS (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174793)

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 can't be bought, it's charged when discovered. The database is enforcing the intellectual property of the "original" authors, protecting them from plagiarism.

Cracking down on the business of plagiarism (1)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174803)

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 day and night).

As for protecting students' IP, why not store a unique hash of the paper (and possibly select excerpts) rather than the paper itself? I'm surprised that no one's yet done this.

A couple hypotheticals: (5, Insightful)

i)ave (716746) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

What about privacy? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174809)

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 as a writer.

I'm against cheating, but I think the solution is to make severe punishments. Kick the student out of school if they cheat. A lot of schools say they reserver the right to do so, but are so afraid of getting sued that they rarely ever do. I know people who got caught and just got a slap on the wrist. If students see little to no risk and lots of reward, they are going to cheat end of story.

good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16174813)

Change the admission papers to force them to give permission for the school to use their work while in school for any comparative reason, takes care of that problem.

Getting rid of cheaters (expulsion with no refund) is the best thing that can happen.

Re-use (1)

stellar678 (619781) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174823)

Barring the potential IP issues, what happens to students who (legitimately) re-use portions of their own work, only to have it called out upon second use because it's already in the database. Seems pretty flawed. Do they cite original sources when they tag a new paper as being plagiarized?

Only works if essay is submitted electronically (3, Insightful)

RobinH (124750) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174825)

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.

College owns the IP? (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174829)

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 to use it again later on, and not have it diluted from being searchable or potentially copied from that database.

Still, I can't help but think that they might have an ulterier motive..

a sizable percentage of these (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174835)

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 be related to these events, nor do I know anyone who is.
 

Missing the point... (1)

penguinbrat (711309) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174855)

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?"

IMHO, I don't think that is the issue and I would guess that those screaming know their peers abuse the system - the reasoning behind this. What the problem is, is that this is yet another example of "Guilty, before proven inocent..."

Sue the teachers? (1)

Sir Homer (549339) | more than 8 years ago | (#16174863)

Wouldn't teachers using this service be committing copyright infringement?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?