An Orange County professor is suing his students for allegedly uploading copyrighted exam materials to a website used to study and prepare for tests.
Professor David Berkovitz, who teaches at the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University in Orange, found parts of the midterm and final exams for his spring 2021 business class on Course in January. Hero, a site allowing students to access course-specific study resources, say the court documents.
According to the lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, the students allegedly infringed copyright and infringed Berkovitz’s right to “reproduce, make copies of, distribute, or create derivative works” by posting the materials online without permission. his permission.
The professor submitted and obtained official copyright applications for the US Copyright Office exams last month.
It’s not yet clear which student or students uploaded the exams, but the materials were only available to those enrolling in the spring semester, according to court documents.
Marc Hankin, an attorney for Berkovitz, said the exams were administered remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and contained clear notices about not copying questions or answers.
Downloading them was also unfair to other students, he said, especially since the course is graded on a curve.
“It partly punishes wrongdoers, but more importantly, it protects other students who are hurt by this behavior,” Hankin said of the allegations. “They didn’t do anything wrong, they studied hard, they didn’t cheat, and yet their grade is artificially lower than it should have been because of the mandatory curve.”
A spokeswoman for Chapman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. The university’s honor code, available online, says academic dishonesty is subject to punishment and referral to the school’s Academic Integrity Committee, which can impose additional sanctions, including expulsion.
Hankin said Berkovitz initially tried to handle the incident internally and through Course Hero, but was “stuck at every turn.” He plans to subpoena the company and amend the complaint – which currently lists five John and Jane “Does” as defendants – with their real names accordingly.
In a statement Thursday, a spokesperson for Course Hero said the site is a user-generated content platform, meaning they “host content but do not review it.” However, they use automated copyright filters to analyze uploaded content, and users must agree to terms of service that prohibit uploading content they don’t own the rights to, the company said.
“Course Hero does not tolerate any copyright infringement and employs a range of preventative measures, investigative and enforcement policies,” they said, adding that the infringing content in Berkovitz’s case had been “quickly processed” by their compliance team and deleted after receiving a takedown notice.
The suit is seeking a jury trial for the defendants who downloaded the documents, a permanent injunction restraining them from copyright infringement and an order to seize all devices containing copies of the documents, according to court documents.
Berkovitz also seeks an award of actual and statutory damages; an award of attorneys’ fees and other costs related to the lawsuit, and “any additional relief that the Court may deem just and appropriate.”
Yet, Hankin argued, it was less about punishing and more about protecting others in the course.
“Maybe we’ll send a message to the other students,” he said. ” Do not cheat. It’s just not worth it.