I recently did some research on a company called TurnItIn- makers of a widely-used anti-plagiarism software. In a degree program I’m currently doing, we are required to submit our papers to TurnItIn so that they can be run against a database of other works and anyone blatantly plagiarizing will, theoretically, be caught.
I have no particular problem with the intent. What I do have a problem with, is that TurnItIn then archives every paper submitted to them into their database under the Fair Use exemption to US (and, probably, international) copyright law. I don’t have a problem with my papers being checked for plagiarism. I do, however, have a problem with a company selling my text as part of their database and making money off of it.
I don’t feel that I have much of a choice except to continue the regular submission (and archival) of my work to a for-profit company. Therefore I have chosen another route: if one group has regular use of my work, then so should all. With the Internet available to me through my website, I decided to publish every paper that I wrote and was asked (required?) to submit to TurnItIn.
It is certainly possible that future students of the program I am in will find my papers and attempt to pass them off as their own work. I have no problem with this. It is not my job to ensure that others are learning; they will (or will not) do so of their own accord. My issue lies solely with TurnItIn and what I feel is it’s unconscionable hoarding of writings.