Monday, April 2, 2012

Thinking of Writing Someone’s Term Paper? Think Again, as it’s Against the Law

As final exams approach, students often find themselves swamped with papers, exams and assignments and not enough time to complete them all before the end of the semester.  In such a moment of exasperation, overwhelmed student A may turn to someone, such as student B or an online service C that writes papers for students, for “help” in writing that lengthy term paper or finishing an assignment in exchange for a sum of money.  Although the assignment will now be finished in time, student A may worry about someone finding out that the assignment was not really written by him/her and the possibility of academic sanctions.  Student B, on the other hand, may think that he/she is in the clear because it is student A that is submitting the assignment that A did not actually write.  Company C too may feel safe because its terms of use disclaim any liability for whatever student A does with the purchased report.
In Connecticut, however, student B and company C should be worried because it is against the law for B or C to prepare A’s “term paper, thesis, dissertation, essay, report or other written, recorded, pictorial, artistic or other assignment” when it is submitted under A’s name as if the work was his or her own.  Student B and company C do not even have to know that A will submit the paper under his/her own name, the law makes B and C liable if “under the circumstances [they have] reason to know” student A will submit the paper under his or her own name as if A wrote it.
Connecticut takes this issue so seriously that under the law, the Attorney General is tasked with bringing a lawsuit against student B or company C seeking an injunction preventing them from continuing to write other students’ papers.  For writing A’s paper, student B may also be charged with a class B misdemeanor, for which student B could spend a maximum of six months in jail and be fined not more than one thousand dollars.
Questions or comments? Contact Jared Cantor.