« UN Digital Library Available | Main | YouTube Turns 4 »

April 21, 2009

Fourth Circuit Affirms Fair Use in Plagiarism Service Case

It's widely accepted that some high school students can be too smart for their own good.  One case, A.V., a minor v. iParadigms, LLC demonstrates this.  The case involved the use of an archiving service by schools for student papers.  Schools contracted with iParadigms to compare and issue reports on originality on the part of their students.  Students were required to submit their papers using school issued passwords.  iParadigms created a database of these papers and used their ever growing collection to determine whether submitted papers were plagiarized.  Students at two high schools objected to this procedure, claiming copyright in the paper.  The District Court found that the submission, use, and archiving constituted fair use.  

One student submitted papers using a password that had been issued for use at the University of California San Diego.  iParadigms investigated that use and counterclaimed for the costs as damages under federal and state computer fraud acts.  The District Court denied this claim saying that iParidigms did not suffer economic harm by use of the passwords.

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit took up the case on appeal and affirmed the finding of fair use.  The opinion examined the several factors of fair use in some detail and concluded that the District Court was correct in its finding.  It reversed the the summary judgment on the damages claim, stating that the cost of investigating the unauthorized use of the college level password was  likely covered by the state statute if not the federal act and remanded the issue to the District Court for further consideration.

The full opinion is here.

April 21, 2009 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Fourth Circuit Affirms Fair Use in Plagiarism Service Case:


Thank you. That is an interesting case, but it seems to be of very little real use in determining the boundaries of fair use. Since no one at iParadigm ever read the papers and they were not republished in a way that any person would ever read them, it would be rather surprising if the Fourth Circuit reached any decision other than the one it reached/

Posted by: Business Attorney | Apr 24, 2009 9:22:41 PM

Post a comment