A Chapman University business professor who suspects one or more of his students was trying to cheat on two exams in 2021 is going to court in a bid to hold them accountable.
So far, though, he has no idea who the culprits were.
David Berkovitz, who teaches at Chapman’s George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics, filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court alleging a student identified as “John Doe” engaged in copyright infringement by posting the two exams on an education-based document-sharing website. He is seeking unspecified damages.
Attorney Marc E. Hankin, who represents Berkovitz, said Tuesday, March 15, that he intends to subpoena Course Hero to obtain records identifying who is responsible for posting the midterm and final exams to the company’s website. Berkovitz gave the tests to students in his Business 215 class during Chapman’s 2021 spring semester.
The tests were uploaded to Course Hero in an apparent attempt to solicit answers to several essay questions in advance, Hankin said
“It seems to be cheating and an ethical violation of Chapman’s honor code,” he added. “If there is some ethical impropriety going on, we want to stop that because it changes the grading curve.”
Redwood City-based Course Hero says it does not tolerate copyright infringement, employing a range of preventive measures and investigation and enforcement policies, including swift content removal, said company spokeswoman Niamh Hughes. Berkovitz’s tests have been deleted, she added.
However, as of Tuesday, four essay questions from the exams, along with suggested answers from other users, remained on the website
Chapman professors own the copyright to their work and are free to pursue the removal of content from sites such as Course Hero, said university spokeswoman Cerise Valenzuela Metzger, who added that the school is not involved in the lawsuit. She did not address whether the students’ actions could constitute an honor code violation..
Chapman’s honor code states academic dishonesty is subject to sanction by the student’s instructor/administrator and referral to the school’s Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional penalties up to expulsion.
Berkovitz distributed the midterm and final exams to students in his class in April and May 2021, according to the lawsuit. Hankin says the tests contained a warning that they were not to be reproduced and were, in fact, copyright protected.
Then, in January, he discovered portions of the tests had been posted on the Course Hero website. On Feb. 25, he filed expedited copyright applications for the exams with the United States Copyright Office, which were granted the following day, says the suit. Hankin described that process as a formality.
“The midterm exam and final exam were accessible only to students who were then enrolled in Berkovitz’s Business 215 Class in the Spring Semester at Chapman University,” the complaint says. “Defendants knew or should have known that their acts constituted copyright infringement.”
Hankin, a former high school chemistry teacher, said it troubling that students may have used the Course Hero site to get an unfair advantage in class.
“When you cheat, it affects everybody,” he said.