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California college professor sues students after midterm and final exams are posted online

David A. Berkovitz, who teaches business at Chapman University, accused five unnamed defendants of copyright infringement.

An assistant professor at Chapman University filed a federal lawsuit accusing at least one student of posting parts of his midterm and final exams online.

David A. Berkovitz, who teaches business at Chapman, a private university in Orange, California, accused five unnamed defendants of copyright infringement and wants the material removed from Course Hero, an education website that provides study material for students.

"Defendants infringed Berkovitz’s exclusive right to reproduce, make copies, distribute, or create derivative works by publishing the Midterm Exam and Final Exam on the Course Hero Website without Berkovitz’s permission," the lawsuit says.

"Defendants knew or should have known that their acts constituted Copyright Infringement,” it says.

The suit, filed March 10 in U.S. District Court for Central California, does not identify any of the defendants.

Berkovitz said in the lawsuit that his midterm and final exams, which were administered online because of the coronavirus pandemic, can be accessed only by students currently in the class.

He was able to file the copyright infringement lawsuit after he obtained copyright registrations for the material he uses in his tests.

Marc E. Hankin, an attorney for Berkovitz, told the East Bay Times that his client intends to subpoena Course Hero to obtain records identifying those responsible for posting the information.

Course Hero said in a statement Friday that it does not tolerate copyright infringement of any kind and has a number of preventative measures and enforcement policies in place. Users also have to agree they can "only upload content they have the right to upload."

Hankin told the newspaper that uploading parts of the tests to Course Hero is cheating and an "ethical violation of Chapman’s honor code."

"If there is some ethical impropriety going on, we want to stop that, because it changes the grading curve," he said.