Plagiarism And Intellectual Property Rights Usage policy:

Gewirtz article titled “Turnitin: if you're a student, all your intellectual property might belong to us”, drew one’s attention to “” usage policy, in specific to the following areas:

Regarding “Ownership” section:

“To the extent you are a student submitting a paper for review in connection with a class you are taking, then we may only use the content of your paper for the purpose of performing our services for your educational provider and for future use as part of our database”.

Thus asserts that submitted papers are merely used for performing its plagiarism scanning function, which is non-problematic as it is a mean of a precautionary measure from others using a student paper without proper citation.

 Regarding “Your License to Us” section:

“We are free to use any ideas, concepts, techniques, know-how in your Communications for any purpose, including, but not limited to, the development and use of products and services based on the Communications”. assertion of possessing freedom to use students’ communications according to iparadigms, owner and operator of, discretion is indeed problematic; Students through the click-through agreement between themselves and are explicitly licensing to freely use their intellectual property.

-However, a closer look at definition of “communications” makes the previous assertion less explicit and debatable. Iparadigms defines “communication” as:

“any communications or material of any kind that you e-mail, post, or transmit through the Site (excluding personally identifiable information of students and any papers submitted to the Site), including, questions, comments, suggestions, and other data and information (your "Communications") will be treated as non-confidential and non-proprietary”.

Given that excludes “papers submitted to the site”, thus might be thought of as protective of intellectual property. Yet, seems to have relatively unclear intentions. According to “ blog; Words & Ideas”,the "Answers to Common Legal Questions about Turnitin” attachment creates doubts regarding intentions. claims that it does not take tile to submitted work, yet it is entitled under the principles of “fair use”, as stated in its usage and privacy policies and agreed upon by the click-through agreement, to use and archive the submitted work as part of its plagiarism scanning service. It further asserts that “courts did not find that Turnitin’s use of student works was in any respect unethical”. However, did not define “use” to clearly deny the possibility of surpassing students’ intellectual property rights by iparadigms freely using the content and ideas in their submitted papers.

-Moreover, in “Privacy Policy” “Privacy Policy” it asserts that uses “non-personally identifiable information, such as IP adress, to assess trends in the use of our site (( or purchses of products or services, facilitate market reasearch and statistical studies, develop content and functionality that helps us serve our customers’ needs, and improve the service and products we provide”. is infringeing users’ trust for marketing needs by secretly using users’ personal information without their consent. Even more, iparadigms states that it “may place a “cookie”, a small computer file containing information about the user, on your (iparadigm user) computer to help us recognize and serve you betterwhen you return”. Also, the “privacy policy” highlights that rejecting cookies may limit the user in some areas of the “Turnitin” site. Most importantly is iparadigm’s statement “some of our business partners use cookies on our Site (e.g., advertisers)”. Thus, not only does iparadigm secretly uses users’ personal information for its marketing purposes, but it also gives its users’ personal information to its business partners whom its users’ have not chosen to deal with in the first place.

-It is ironic to find that the tool,, used to promote respect for intellectual property rights, is by itself a suspect of violating students’ intellectual property rights; indeed preaches for something it possibly denies from its users. One questions whether may be viewed as a role model for plagiarism? James P. Purdy in the article titled “Anxiety and the Archive: Understanding Plagiarism Detection Services as Digital Archives” writes “services we sometimes use to ensure the integrity of students’ texts can themselves be of questionable integrity—largely through the design of their archives”.

-Also the situation may be viewed as the students choosing to let go of their property right by submitting their papers to and thus agreeing to its usage policy. However, in most cases students do not actually choose, instead they are compelled by their teachers to submit their innovations, submitted papers, to be used according to desires. Christopher Dawson in the blog post titled “Turnitin privacy worries? Then stop plagiarizing” writes “many schools require students to use the system, meaning that students have a choice: surrender your rights or don’t pass the class”.

-Dawson offers a solution to the “” intellectual property right controversy. He suggests that as long as students keep plagiarizing and unlawfully using others’ work, they will render educational institutions constantly forced to use such digital plagiarism scanning services to police cheaters and enforce students’ ethical obligations. Thus Dawson claims that to overcome privacy controversy, students’ ought to refrain from plagiarism, thus educational institutions would not need plagiarism services to control plagiarists. Sally Feldman in the article titled “To Catch a Plagiarist”, offers another solution for the plagiarism problem. Feldman suggests that educational institutions should abstain from trying to catch plagiarists and instead educate students of “good practice”. Similarly, in the article titled “Colleges Sharpen Tactics for Resolving Academic-Integrity Cases” by Sara Lipka, she asserts that “the problem (academic misconduct) calls not just for disciplinary sanctions, but also for ethical standards and moral development for students”.

-However, good news for educational institutions that albeit Turnitin debatable use still choose to acquire its plagiarism detecting services, Turnitin now provides users the option of turning off its “mandatory archival feature”. Purdy claims that “Users, therefore, can now indicate that they do not want to have copies of their papers kept in Turnitin's larger archive”. Thus students are finally given the right to choose to maintain their intellectual property rights as users of, yet face the risk of having others possibly use their work without proper citation and not get caught for such infringement. It is worth noting that the default option on is that submitted papers are archived (Purdy).

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