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Friday, October 3, 2008

"Turnitin" Gets Turned In?

Hmmm, how's that again? I'm sure we're all at least a bit familiar with the anti-plagiarism tool "turnitin." I first heard of it when completing our online orientation for the Clarion Blackboard. I think it's a great tool so teachers and professors know for sure that a paper is original in thought and content. Apparently some don't agree. I was searching copyright and schools through good ol' Google and came across an interesting article which caught my eye because of the "turnitin" aspect.

Two school districts, one in Virginia and the other in Arizona, have been requiring student papers to be turned in through "turnitin" due to an overwhelming outpouring of plagiarism. Several students decided that the aspect of the parent company to "turnitin," iParadigm, had violated copyright issues because of the archive capabilities of turnitin once a paper is submitted. As we know, turnitin uses its archives and other web documents, etc. to compare a student's work and then provide the corresponding teacher with an authenticity report. The students in question had attached a "do not archive" disclaimer to their works assuming this was enough to prevent the work being archived, however; the school districts had already signed agreements with iParadigm giving permission for the districts' students' work to be archived. In addition, each student had to create his own user profile and read the agreements previous to paper submission which include aspects of agreeing to allow work to be archived.

To make a long explanation short, the courts ruled in favor of iParadigm for several reasons. The two most obvious were simply that (1) the continual use of turnitin by these students leads to the premise that students were fully aware of agreement terms, and (2) even though the papers were turned in with a disclaimer to archive, it wasn't valid due to statements included in the click agreement the students agreed to. There are other deeper reasons, including one student's misuse of turnitin by misrepresenting himself to use his friend's college turnitin account. This is a very simplified account of what's written in the case documents which can be accessed at http://www.iparadigms.com/iParadigms_03-11-08_Opinion.pdf and I don't mean to say I understand all the technical jargon, but it seems to me that the the court rulings were fair and thought out.

It causes me to wonder why the students were so concerned with having to use turnitin. Was it really that they felt archiving their works was a major copyright infringement, or were they trying to circumvent using turnitin so it would be a bit easier to have extra "help" with term papers and such?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here's my reference for our text:
Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools a practical guide (4th ed.). p. 13. Worthington: Linworth Publishing.
Clueless Wonder!
Yes, that would be me when it comes to copyright laws and issues: Clueless about most of it and wondering about the rest! I still hardly know where to begin, but I really like Carol Simpson's simplified assessment of the whole topic which she writes at the end of her introduction to our text, "Copyright for Schools." Her little story ends with, "You don't take what isn't yours without asking first." (Simpson 2005) Sounds really simple, doesn't it? As we're finding out through research for our blogs, it's a lot more intricate than than that, but it's a good start.
I've begun wondering how many times - inadvertently of course! - I've misused or copied something to which I didn't have proper rights. Maybe none, but it does give a person pause for thought. Our text gives very detailed explanations of the many facts and innuendos of copyright, but I felt like doing a search for something that would give a quick overview of the major points. I found the following website, which happily, the author blatantly allows links to. (I'm thinking, "Cliff Note version, anyone?") It's entitled, "10 Big Myths about copyright explained", written by Brad Templeton:
I hope as I become a little wiser on these issues, I'll be able to post some things bit more informative, but for now, enjoy Mr. Templeton's easy-to-read site.