For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The ibo.org cometh ... for your copyright


i-Borg, by akiwi
You may wish that the much-lauded International Baccalaureate (IB) would disappear because it's too embarrassing to keep on asking if it has one or two 'c's and 'll's.  The IPKat is quite fond of it, since its domain name is ibo.org which he, with feline dyslexia, regularly misreads as "I, Borg" (if you're not a Trekkie, follow the link near the foot of this post for eludication). Either way, here's something that will cheer you up. It seems that the "credibility of the IB has been questioned amid claims parts of its marking guides were plagiarised from Wikipedia".  A BBC report received by the IPKat from Zoe Birtle (D Young; thankt, Zoe!) cites The Times Educational Supplement (TES) report that guides for three history papers are being investigated by the IB's managing board.  As it explains,
"The guides offer model essays and are used by examiners marking papers ...

One IB examiner told the TES they were "shocked" to discover what was called "serious examples of academic dishonesty" in the guide for one of the papers.

He claimed information from 14 of 24 questions contained sections copied from websites such as Wikipedia.

A teacher who runs training workshops for the IB warned the programme had been put at risk and told the TES they were "livid" and "stunned".

The IB diploma, taken by teenagers, is currently offered in more than 200 UK schools and is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to A-levels.

An IB spokesman told the TES: "The IB has always insisted on academic honesty throughout our examination system since the organisation was founded.

"We have always taken immediate and appropriate action when we discover any violation.

"The issue related to the history paper mark scheme is one of those cases, and our investigation of this matter is moving forward but has not yet been completed.

"As a general rule, for each exam session we investigate any and all allegations of malpractice.

"This includes deploying technology to screen and scan scripts, and conducting unannounced inspections of schools' arrangements for the examinations to ensure compliance."
The IPKat is horrified too -- not that there has been an egregious act of plagiarism, since that is an everyday occurrence these days.  You may as well complain about the weather.  No, he's horrified that no-one has said anything about the rights of the author(s) of the plagiarised materials, whose copyright may have been infringed.  Have we lost the plot?  Merpel adds, IPKat team member Jeremy is far too modest to mention it, but he wrote a little article a couple of years ago, "Authorship, ownership, wikiship: copyright in the twenty-first century", Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (2008) 3(12): 788-798, (click here for abstract) which predicted that wikis might just throw up some interesting issues -- but this wasn't one of them.

You can read all about the IB on ibo.org here. More fun is I, Borg here
Why schools love the IB here
Why some people don't love the IB here
IB's copyright policy can be found here

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do not understand the fuss.

Just what do people think "assimilate" means?

Anonymous said...

I think the IPKat may have lost the plot here. As I understand it, the text on Wikipedia can be shared quite widely with little restriction. Writing for Wikipedia seems to be a labour of love rather than a potentially profitable venture. So, while the IB may indeed be infringing the rights of the authors, it is unlikely to be costing the authors anything at all.

You seem to be assuming that, if the IB hadn't had the idea of copying stuff from Wikipedia without paying for it, they would have copied the stuff from Wikipedia and paid the authors. Which suggests you've been reading too many press releases from record companies recently.

Jeremy said...

So far as I can see from the Wikipedia terms and conditions, one of the conditions of licensed use is that the use be attributed in one of a number of ways listed there. Unattributed use is unlicensed use.

I don't understand the significance of your point about IB's use not costing the authors anything. Once it's used by IB its commercial value as a product that can be licensed to other examination boards is diminished or lost.

Anonymous said...

I admit I'm making assumptions here, but I would have thought that anyone who is writing stuff that they intend, or even hope, to make money out of, is not going to post it to Wikipedia. Hence anything which is posted to Wikipedia is not likely to have any commercial value.

Of course, that doesn't make it right; and the authors may be entitled to an account of profits even if they aren't entitled to damages. But a story along the lines of "Company X did something that should have given author Y an unexpected income, but they didn't pay it" is going to be less newsworthy than "Company X did something which took away the income that Y was already receiving".

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