Santa Clara University

SCU Today
Student finds Term Paper for sale 

MSN.com

Sep. 2, 2005

 


Blue Macellari wrote the term paper back in 1999 while studying abroad, so the Duke University graduate student didn't understand why it was found on someone else's Web site -- or why it was for sale. Now, she's suing the operator of Web sites where she said her paper was offered for sale. She is seeking more than $100,000 for copyright infringement, invasion of privacy and damage to her reputation.

 

"They were pushing it, using it, making copies of it without authorization," said Macellari's attorney, Evan Andrew Parke.

 

Macellari filed a lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, Ill., against Rusty Carroll, his Carbondale, Ill.-based company R2C2 Inc. and South Carolina-based Digitalsmiths Corp. Macellari said she wrote a term paper about South Africa for a class at the University of Cape Town, where she studied during her junior year in college. She returned to Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., where she earned her undergraduate degree, and, for another class during her senior year, created a Web site where she posted her term paper to highlight her past work.

 

Last January, according to the lawsuit, Macellari learned from a friend that her paper was posted on Web sites registered to Carroll's company and contained notices that the sites own the copyright to the papers. Furthermore, she said, her name was listed.

 

Parke said Macellari never gave the papers to the Web sites or gave them permission to post them, let alone handed the copyrights over to the sites. Carroll said Friday that the paper was submitted to his company by somebody, though he was not certain Macellari sent it. He pulled the paper off his Web sites after he learned of the lawsuit.

 

Carroll said all of the papers posted come from students. "It's not like we go around and steal stuff off the Web," Carroll said. He accused Macellari of grandstanding and said she should have contacted him when she learned of the posting.

 

Among the Web sites cited in the lawsuit is DoingMyHomework.com, which says it provides the public with examples of papers and essays to help people find ideas to complete their homework. "Feel free to cite our Web site if you decide to use any of our text in your papers. We do not support plagiarism, and will work to help fight it," the Web site reads.

 

Carroll said readers can view an essay for free, although a search Friday for essays on "South Africa" produced a list of papers that required a $9.99 a month membership fee to access in full. The owner of Digitalsmiths was not available to comment Friday, a company representative said.

 

Faculty are already concerned about students who turn in papers they download from the Internet, but this case raises the separate issue of protecting works, said David DeCosse, director of Campus Ethics Programs at the Markkula Center for Ethics at Santa Clara University. Although students and university professors want to post such papers online, they perhaps need to require passwords and take other precautions to avoid indirectly enabling plagiarism, he said.

 

Donald McCabe, the founding president of the Duke-based Center for Academic Integrity, said he was unaware of any similar lawsuit. "This has been an issue at a large number of schools," McCabe said. "I think it's encouraging to see someone willing to take a stand on it from an integrity point of view."

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