Media outlets including the Orange County Register, KTLA, NBC News, CNN, The Washington Post, and the New York Times reported on the case filed by Professor David Berkovitz against unnamed students who uploaded his exam in 2021 violating copyright law as well as Chapman University’s honor code.
During the virtual learning period of 2021, Professor Berkovitz assigned online midterm and final examinations to be taken by students at a time of their choosing within a specific time frame. The Orange County California professor later discovered someone had uploaded portions of these tests to a website called Course Hero, despite the explicit warning to students that no outside resources or assistance is allowed. Any advantage gained by cheating directly impacts other students’ grades as Professor Berkovitz grades on a curve.
The unfair advantage gained by a student (or students) would automatically lower the grades of some classmates, and could thus jeopardize scholarships.
Berkovitz contacted Course Hero to uncover the student who posted the tests and the website responded they would comply with his request if he provided a subpoena. So in order to get the subpoena, his intellectual property attorney and copyright expert, Marc E. Hankin of Hankin Patent Law APC says he filed a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Authors, painters, architects, filmmakers, musicians, composers – all produce work subject to copyright. So too do educational institutions and teachers or professors who work there, and many other businesses that create or compile written words and/or images. The Copyright Act protects architectural design, software, graphic arts, motion pictures, sound recordings, and anything that is “fixed in a medium” that demonstrates a “modicum of creativity”.
The actual person who creates the copyrighted work is the initial owner of the work. Copyrights can be transferred, either licensed or assigned, from one person to another, and specific steps need to be followed.
“So we had to make a federal case out of this because it’s the only way to get the information, to find out the real names of the students, the dates and times they posted, what information they got back, and then compare the answers they got back with the answers they put in their green books to see whether, in fact, they have cheated,” Hankin commented to KTLA news in Los Angeles covering this story.
Hankin advises the uploaded case materials are copyright protected. According to Course Hero’s website, if someone can prove posted materials are copyrighted they [Course Hero] will remove the works and provide the identification of the subscriber.
Hankin Patent Law APC served a subpoena and despite the assertion on the website and Court Hero’s attorney promises to the media, the student names have not been provided. Marc E. Hankin, who practices trademark and patent law as well, will be responding to their reversal of the promise to reveal the student or students who posted the copyrighted examinations.
Hankin Patent Law APC has extensive experience not only in filing and obtaining copyright protection for our clients but also in enforcing and defending our clients with respect to claims of copyright infringement. We can work with you to create an efficient system for obtaining copyright protection for your creative expressions or, if preferred, we can handle all aspects of obtaining copyright protection on your behalf. We can also craft and establish systems for policing and enforcing your copyrighted materials.
The firm regularly represents clients, both as rights-holders and as accused infringers, in all types of intellectual property claims, including:
Hankin Patent Law APC provides outstanding legal services in all aspects of Intellectual Property – Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights – to clients across the United States and around the World. Call today at (310) 979-3600 or visit us at https://www.hankinpatentlaw.com/contact/