A Virginia judge has issued a summary judgment regarding his dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by four high school students against iParadigms over the use of the students' written works in the Turnitin plagiarism detection service.
The judge stated that iParadigms' use of archived student works to assess originality of newly-submitted papers constitutes a fair use under US copyright law and is therefore not copyright infringement. In addition, he states that such use "provides a substantial public benefit through the network of institutions using Turnitin."
iParadigms' CEO John Barrie said, "The Turnitin service was created because of the pressing educational need from institutions to help students learn to produce original written work -- especially in our 'cut and paste' digital world. The judge has validated that our service is able to do so without infringing the copyrights of students' work."
U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton said that, "though iParadigms makes a profit in providing this service to educational institutions, its use of student works adds 'a further purpose or different character' to the works." Such "transformative" works do not violate fair use. Further, because student works become part of the database against which other students' work is compared, Turnitin helps protect the papers from being exploited by others who might profitably claim them as their own work.