You may remember a dust up last fall in which a group of students from one of our high schools were protesting the use of Turnitin by teachers to check their writing assignments for plagiarism.

Now, a couple of them have taken the issue several steps farther by suing the company for violations of their intellectual property.

The two students filed a copyright registration for papers they wrote for assignments that were submitted to Turnitin. They also gave the company instructions not to archive their work, directions which seem to have been ignored.

They are asking for $150,00 for each of six papers.

I wish these kids a lot of luck in this. At least one expert in intellectual property thinks they have a case.

But beyond the issues of fair use, presumption of innocence, and property rights, there’s another reason I’m on the side of the students.

If they win and Turnitin’s business model collapses, it might force us into finally having a serious conversation about the value of the traditional research paper.

Stealing other people’s ideas and words is wrong and students need to learn that.

However, as I was ranting about earlier this week, so is the way we teach students to use information and especially how we evaluate those skills.

plagiarism, turnitin, term paper