The Growing Backlash Against Automated Cheating Detectors

from the but-for-a-good-reason dept

It's been nearly four years since we wrote about students and parents being upset that online services that check student homework for plagiarism were also uploading and storing a copy of every paper they checked. It got to the point, earlier this year, that at least one university banned the use of Turnitin, one of the most popular services in this field. It seems that the student rebellion against such tools is growing, as many more students are questioning the legality of such tools, and asking their schools to stop using them. They're not just upset about the uploads, but about the assumption of guilt. While there clearly is plenty of plagiarism to go around, that doesn't mean this is the right solution to it. It's often easy to just throw technology at a problem, but it's worth recognizing that doing so always raises unexpected issues -- and those issues may not be technological on their own, but legal and cultural issues. It seems like many of the schools who jumped on the Turnitin bandwagon didn't spend much time thinking about those additional consequences, and are now facing student anger because of it.

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  1. identicon
    Stephen, 11 Dec 2006 @ 1:19am


    I beleive that TurnItIn can violate a students rights. After all, if they write a paper THEY OWN THE COPYRIGHT TO IT under the Berne Convention. After all, TurnItIn is making money off student papers by determining plagarism.

    But, is TurnItIn PLAGARIZING papers to put in its database itself? Well, for one it is running a massive data mining operation, making entire copies of students works and more importantly, making PROFIT off of searching them. This kind of massive copying for commercial use may NOT fall under the fair use doctorine, and I beleive it even goes farther than Google as it is actually caching and storing data, rather than just making databases of links.

    Next of all, there is another issue. They are flagging peoples papers againt further reuse without permission. This actually infringes a kids ownerships of their work. They may want to share or reuse portions of their own work for later use, and why should TurnItIn have a right to take away what they legally have the right to do, because after all the STUDENT OWNS HIS/HER WORK!

    I beleive TurnItIn should at least provide an opt-out, or maybe make storing a full paper opt-in.


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