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Professor sues students that posted exam questions online for “copyright infringement”

Using the system to try and unmask the students.

A university professor has filed a copyright infringement case after finding test questions he had set on a website where students help other students. The purpose of the lawsuit is to unmask the students who posted the questions so that the school can take disciplinary action against them.

In January, a business professor at Chapman University, David Berkovitz found test questions he had set for the previous school year for his business law class on Course Hero, a website where students post academic resources.

Related: Review of the DMCA fails to address problems with false copyright claims

The test questions were posted with calls for help.

Last year, courses were done remotely. In the April 2021 midterm and May final exams, Berkovitz gave the students strict instructions not to use class notes and online resources while taking the tests. He also prohibited the students from “copying any part of the exam.”

Despite the instructions, some students posted the questions on Course Hero, asking for help.

Course Hero refused his request for the students’ information, saying he would need a subpoena. The only way to get a subpoena was to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Berkovitz has acquired copyright certificates for the exams, and has filed the copyright infringement lawsuit and gotten the subpoena.

We obtained a copy of the complaint for you here.

But he does not want to sue the students. He only filed the lawsuit to get the subpoena, so that Course Hero will provide information on the students. Once he gets the names of the students, he will forward them to the administration of the university.

“He’s not trying to bankrupt his students or their parents,” said his lawyer, Marc Hankin. “What he’s trying to do is prevent cheating and have a chilling effect on students cheating going forward.”

Once Course Hero complies with the subpoena, Berkovitz will likely drop the case, according to his lawyer.

Chapman’s business school uses a curve to grade students. So, if a student got a higher grade because they cheated, they likely affected the score of other students who did not cheat. One of the reasons Berkovitz is seeking the students’ information is because some students are on scholarships that are tied to their GPA.

“It is conceivable that the one or more students who cheated could have knocked somebody else out of getting their scholarship and out of their eligibility to go to Chapman because they lowered their grade enough that they missed the grade-point average cutoff,” Hankin said.

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