TurnItIn And Students Settle Over Lawsuit

Posted Aug 4, 2009

TurnItIn is a service that verifies whether high school and college essays are plagiarized or not.  Over the last two years, TurnItIn’s parent company iParadigms and four high school students were in a legal battle.  The legal battle ended last Friday after a settlement that prohibited either party from taking additional legal action.

The four high school students sued iParadigms for copyright infringement after noticing that the company used their essays against their own will and made a profit from them.  The high school of the four students required them to use the TurnItIn service.  The papers get stored on a database after scanning for plagiarism.  However students argued that TurnItIn’s database can be easily hacked.

However the students were given two court decisions against them.  The U.S. District Court in Alexandia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District said that TurnItIn ?makes no use of any work?s particular expressive or creative content beyond the limited use of comparison with other works.”  The service also ?provides a substantial public benefit? according to the district court judge.

TurnItIn filed a case of their own against one of the students for gaining unauthorized access in the service.  The complaint was filed under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  But the settlement which took place this past Friday ended all legal action by both parties.  This includes the students’ potential appeal to the Supreme Court.

One of the lawyers for the students Robert A. Vanderhye may take on TurnItIn himself with a different group of students.  Vanderhye is looking for any student that has a paper being used by TurnItIn without uploading it themselves.

[via Chronicle]