June 9, 2023


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Can Copyright Law Prevent Cheating on Exams?

4 min read


The latest possibilities for remote do the job and discovering have offered improvements in way of life for a selection of workers and college students. Quite a few of these in a position to function or research from house have benefited from a lot more flexible schedules, reduction in time and dollars put in on commuting, reduction in perform- and school-related anxiety, and more household time. But those gains have come with some new problems. For case in point, professors and lecturers have confronted the obstacle of how to avoid pupils from cheating on examinations. When typical approaches unsuccessful, a enterprise professor recently turned to copyright law, hoping for a solution.

David Berkovitz is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University in Orange, California. Throughout the spring 2021 semester, he taught Business 215 to distant pupils. As component of that program, Prof. Berkovitz administered a midterm examination and a ultimate test, which comprised copyrighted content. According to stories, he included strict test instructions, including “forbidding students from using any course products, notes or online assets whilst getting the checks,” and instructing the college students they ended up “prohibited from copying any section of the test.”

Despite those recommendations, about January 2022, he realized that portions of the two tests had been posted on the Class Hero site, together with requests for enable with the queries. The System Hero web-site is an education-concentrated web page for doc sharing.

It has been noted that Prof. Berkovitz found proof that just one or much more college students sought aid with the inquiries in the course of the real exam. His legal professional mentioned that immediately after getting portions of his exam on the public internet site, Prof. Berkovitz contacted Program Hero, trying to find the identity of the pupils who posted his content. Study course Hero declined to deliver the information absent a subpoena.

To acquire a subpoena, Berkovitz would have to sign-up his copyrights and file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, which he did. His complaint named John Does 1-5 as placeholders for the pupils to be identified through discovery. Berkovitz alleged that the Defendants infringed his exclusive ideal to reproduce, make copies, distribute, or make spinoff will work by publishing the midterm test and closing test on the Class Hero Site without the need of permission. He further more alleged that Defendants understood or must have identified that their acts constituted copyright infringement. Given the exams were being element of a organization legislation class that provided the topic of copyright infringement, the professor’s attorney identified the copying ironic.

This lawsuit was dismissed just one thirty day period soon after it was filed. Probably, a subpoena issued and the people today who posted the materials had been identified, at the very least by user account, and are staying dealt with by means of the university’s honor code provisions.

This scenario, nevertheless, raises the challenge our educators are experiencing: when working with distant learning, it is hard to law enforcement examinations but essential. Cheating artificially inflates grades and skews curves, potentially producing college students who did not cheat to acquire reduced letter grades than reasonable.

To counter this challenge, some faculty have employed cameras and checking methods or expert services to check out students get exams, but that raises many privateness rights and needs viewing of several hours of movies. Some have made the exams open up guide, hoping to lower the “need” for cheating. Some make tests excess challenging or lengthier than ordinary to go away tiny time for unsanctioned collaboration. Some use several decision questions in random buy with the responses randomly scrambled, making it harder for learners to review solutions remotely.  One faculty member executed particular person examinations orally by videoconference but that raises challenges of whether just about every scholar had the exact same exam practical experience. Other individuals rely on the integrity of the students and the honor code of their universities, hoping students will not danger failing the course or staying kicked out, if they are caught dishonest.

But Prof. Berkovitz, an lawyer, made use of a extra imaginative method by turning to copyright law. While he seemingly was not definitely intrigued in a monetary sanction towards the students, he seemingly did want to identify the learners and have them sanctioned less than the university’s dishonest procedures. Ideally, this will have the impact of deterring pupils from in search of outside the house enable on sharing web-sites, for the reason that they now know that it is not only cheating, but a violation of copyright regulation. Not only can this guide to monetary damages, but also, as in this circumstance, they chance acquiring their id uncovered through a subpoena to the web site the place they posted the materials.


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