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Sharing Old College Exams Leads to Copyright Infringement

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

A Chapman University professor sued his students after finding evidence his previous exam prompts were on Course Hero, a popular document-sharing website. According to a report from The Washington Post, the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleges that one or more students infringed upon the professor's "exclusive right to reproduce, make copies, distribute, or create derivative works."

The professor sought the students' names by contacting Course Hero, but the company refused, explaining the professor would need a subpoena. Therefore, the professor reportedly filed expedited applications to the U.S. Copyright Office, which were approved the following day, leading to the filing of the copyright infringement and subsequent subpoena. The case is likely to be dropped once the subpoena is served and Course Hero releases the students' names.

Since the professor stated that he would pass the names on to Chapman University's Honor Board for disciplinary action, what will happen to the students who submitted the professor's questions to Course Hero?

Is Copyright Infringement a Violation?

Chapman University's Computer and Network Acceptable Use Policy clearly states that the "unauthorized use of copyrighted material is prohibited." Moreover, a memorandum from the Chapman University Office of Legal affairs states, "faculty created course materials belong to the faculty members who created them in accordance with University policy. Students…are in violation of the faculty member's copyright if they upload course materials to websites or otherwise share them with others without the faculty member's express permission."

Consequences of Copyright Infringement

The sanctioning body at Chapman University will consider a student's cumulative conduct after their hearing process—called "Community Conversations" at Chapman—is completed. If the person alleged is found responsible for the actions, there are a few consequences the institution can consider.

  • Loss of computing privileges
  • Financial restitution
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Withholding or revoking of degree

Regardless, copyright infringement is a severe violation and will most likely carry a punishment by separation from the school.

What to Do if You're Accused of Copyright Infringement?

  • Remain silent and don't speak about the situation with peers, teachers, or school administration officials. Any of these could inadvertently derail a chance of being proven not responsible.
  • Keep all evidence even if you feel it might look incriminating—text messages, emails, screenshots, past exams, receipts. A student defense attorney can use these to prove you were not responsible.
  • Contact a student defense attorney immediately. Punishments will have long-term effects that could hinder your ability to apply for graduate school, obtain a government job, or seek a professional license. A skilled defense could be the key to your permanent record remaining blemish-free.

National Student Defense Team

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm are experts in advising their student clientele and assisting them through the college disciplinary process at schools across the United States. To reach the best possible outcome and defend your reputation and your future, call 888-535-3686 to discuss how the Lento Law Firm can defend you.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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