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That's the ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit by four students against iParadigms, the company that runs the Turnitin, the online plagiarism detection service used by many colleges and high schools.
The decision in A.V. ex rel. Vanderhye v. iParadigms, LLC, 562 F.3d 630 (4th Cir. 2009) held that the storage of the papers was "fair use." by iParadigms. The court noted that no one at iParadigms ever read the papers or utilized their content other than for comparison purposes. (Click here for the Fourth Circuit's opinion).
The court noted that "the copyright owner's monopoly ... is limited and subject to a list of statutory exceptions, including the exception for fair use provided in 17 U.S.C. § 107." The Court further noted that "fair use of a copyrighted work ... for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." 17 U.S.C. § 107."
Additionally, the Court pointed out that in addressing Fair Use, Congress set out a four-prong balancing test. The elements to be considered by the court in deciding if something is Fair Use are:
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantially of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.The Court then analyzed each of these factors, and found the use by iParadigms was Fair Use and therefore did not violate the students' copyright for their papers.
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