A.V. v. iParadigms

A.V. v. Iparadigms 562 F.3d 630

Lexis: 2009 Lexis 7892 (https://www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool/Research/Default.aspx?e=WWW&pp=002&com=2&ORIGINATION_CODE=00086&searchtype=get&search=326+u.s.%20310&autosubmit=yes&com=2&topframe=on&powernav=on&cookie=yes)

Facts: The defendant, iParadigms, owns and operates “Turnitin Plagiarism Detection Service,” an online technology system designed to evaluate the originality of written works in order to prevent plagiarism. When a school subscribes to iParadigms plagiarism protection service, it requires students to post their written assignments via a web-based system. After a student submits a writing assignment, the plagiarism protection system performs a digital comparison of the student’s work with other student’s work and commercial databases of journal articles and periodicals. The turnitin system, gives participating schools the option to archive student works. At the time of the complaint, there were 7,000 institutional subscribers.
To submit a paper online, a student must click on “I agree” under the terms of agreement or click-wrap agreement. The school the plaintiffs attended required the students to submit papers online and archived their paper. When the plaintiff students submitted their assignments, they all included disclaimers, which objected to the archiving of their works. However, Turnitin archived the students’ work by following the high school’s policy. The plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that iParadigms infringed their copyright interests in their work by archiving them in the Turnitin database without their permission.

Procedural Posture: The United States Eastern District of Virginia granted summary judgment in favor of defendant company on plaintiff high school students’ copyright infringement claim based on the doctrine of fair use. On the company’s counterclaims based on federal and state law, the district court granted summary judgment against the company. The parties cross appealed.

Holding: The archiving of student works by a commercial plagiarism detection website is a fair use under the Copyright Act, and therefore does not violate the students’ copyrights in their work.

Future Importance: This may have a great impact in education if all of the schools in the United States adhered to a plagiarism program that required their students to divulge all of their copyright claims for the sake of submitting an assignment. What happens if a student writes a profound short story or poem and wishes to publish it later? Would the plagiarism detection service own the copyright simply because the short story or poem was first written in a school setting? The Court indicates that the student will always have the right to first publish, but this could potentially be a slippery slope. However, it seems like an increasing trend to make it more difficult for students to plagiarize. (A good thing!)

Critical Analysis: The Court held Turnitin’s use of the written assignments to be a fair use 17 U.S.C. §504. The Court analyzed the four nonexclusive factors for determining fair use. Under the first factor, purpose and character of the use, the Court concluded that TurnItIn transformed the student work by using the papers to prevent plagiarism and not for factual knowledge. (Cited Perfect 10 v. Amazon). Under the second factor, nature of the copyrighted work, the Court believed that Turnitin did not stifle student creativity or seek to take away the student’s right to first publication. Under the third factor, amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, the Court reasoned that this factor did not favor either party and using the entirety of the papers did not preclude fair use. Under the fourth factor, the effect of the potential market, the Court rejected all of the plaintiff’s arguments and found marketability was not effected. Additionally, the Court declined to address the clickwrap agreement because Turnitin was protected under

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