Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Modern English?

I was recently informed by a government high school english teacher that their students must submit all written essays through the internet these days.


Well the website they use is - TurnItIn.com - and it checks papers for plagiarism against some sort of large database.

And yet these dumb kids all know this and many STILL try to hand in unoriginal work!

How much does it cost these schools?

Well I couldn't find out. The website is deliberately silent on the matter but I'm wagering it costs a whole lot of money. The silence (or my blindness?) reminded me of the difficult time I had trying to to find out how much the BANKRUPT town of Hull, Massachusetts was spending on solar-powered trash compactors. Of course it's a rational deception on the part of any entity whose fundamental business strategy is ripping off taxpayers!

Anyways in this new Web 2.0 Information Age one has to admire the people who came up with this ingenious super-high profit business idea. I mean the site almost compels school districts - the ones with means anyway - to pay for its services. Then, over time it stores all papers that were submitted and checks new work against its own database for plagiarism.

Although there might be a problem down the road with this ironclad business plan:

Anything you write for school is automatically copyrighted; you do not need to apply for one. When you submit your work to Turnitin, Turnitin saves a copy to its database to compare against future submissions in order to stop students from plagiarizing other students’ work. Since you don’t know that Turnitin is saving a copy of your paper, and it doesn’t ask for or acquire your consent, its a potential violation of your rights.

Saving a copy of your paper is copyright infringement because Turnitin is using your paper for its own economic gain without compensating you. The copyright laws state that portions of original work may be quoted, but only if allowed by the author or for "fair use" (discussions). By making a hefty profit through subscriptions to its expensive service (which can cost thousands of dollars a year), Turnitin uses your work in a way that was not originally intended. What makes Turnitin so "effective"—the reason it is preferred over all other such sites—is that it checks students’ papers against each other. But this means that its profit is coming directly from students’ work.

Turnitin argues that its enterprise is "fair use." However, it goes no further than to say, "When students claim that Turnitin violates the law or engages in ‘commercial exploitation’ of their copyrights, that claim is simply not based on fact." This oversimplified response fails to answer the charges against it, and is probably the reason there are already multiple lawsuits filed against Turnitin.


The DELICIOUS IRONY of the plagiarism police committing massive copyright infringement!!!

I just have to embed this classic tune in a post titled Modern English. Enjoy, reminisce:

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