Legal FAQs

  • How does Turnitin protect my privacy?

    Turnitin is committed to protecting the privacy and security of our users and their information. We maintain extremely high levels of privacy and security through the use of SSL encryption, redundant servers, sophisticated firewalls, multiple data centers, and privacy and security audits. Turnitin complies with the Safe Harbor privacy and security standards. With a security system that has never been breached and a student privacy pledge of the highest standards, instructors and students can use Turnitin with an unsurpassed level of confidence.

  • Who owns student papers once they are submitted to Turnitin?

    Students retain the copyright of papers submitted to the Turnitin service. The Turnitin user agreement entitles iParadigms to use the works as part of the plagiarism prevention system under the principles of fair use. Turnitin's use of student papers under fair use was settled in a United States District Court of Law in 2007 and affirmed upon appeal in 2009.

    Read the 2007 summary judgement
    Read the 2009 published decision

  • Does Turnitin archive student work?

    Turnitin archives student papers by default only for the purposes of textual comparison. Institutions may choose to not have their papers archived in the service.

    The fair use defense codified in Section 107 of the Copyright Act has been recognized as an "equitable rule of reason." In considering whether a use is a fair use, courts often analyze whether the use is beneficial to society as a whole (as part of a determination of whether a use is transformative) and whether the user has "clean hands." The District Court and Fourth Circuit both held that the archiving of student works in the educational context is a fair use. In so holding, the courts did not find that Turnitin's use of student works was in any respect unethical.

  • How does Turnitin comply with privacy regulations of different countries?

    As a US company with high standards for security and privacy, iParadigms has designed Turnitin to comply with many of the data protection requirements of other countries, including informed consent, access rights of submitting students, and technical and organizational measures to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of personal data.

  • Is Turnitin compliant with European Union SafeHarbor provisions?

    Turnitin is compliant with European and Swiss SafeHarbor provisions.

  • Am I bound to the Turnitin click-through agreement? What if I'm a minor?

    Yes. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found that the online click-through agreement on the Turnitin site is an enforceable agreement, even against minors. Parental consent or the consent of a guardian is required for a minor to set up an account with Turnitin and the agreement is therefore binding.

  • Can a teacher compel me to submit my paper to Turnitin if I attend private school? Public school?

    Yes in both cases. If you attend a private school you have agreed to abide by the school's policies.

    With respect to public school, as the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has recognized in rejecting four students' claim that they were improperly compelled to submit their papers to Turnitin or face a failing grade, "Schools have a right to decide how to monitor and address plagiarism in their schools and may employ companies like iParadigms to help do so."

  • Does Turnitin share information with 3rd party services?

    Turnitin integrates with third-party services such at the Educational Testing Service and Language Weaver where student information may be shared in order to deliver a part of these services. While iParadigms does transfer information where necessary to perform the service, no personally identifiable information such as name, email or school is sent by iParadigms to third-party services.

  • Does Turnitin comply with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)?

    Yes. The Turnitin service is compliant with and helps institutions comply with FERPA, including:

    • iParadigms expects and suggests that institutions comply with FERPA’s notice requirements regarding the use and disclosure of directory and non-directory education records so that students and parents are aware that the school may engage services like Turnitin.
    • Institutions are free to inspect or audit our services to assure themselves that all information is used only for the purposes of assisting instructors.
    • Data is kept secure at all times and are only used for purposes of assisting the instructor in assessing the assignment.
    • Users may submit their paper using a pseudonym and in formats that contain little, if any, identifying metadata. This reduces our chance of collecting and processing personal data.
  • Does Turnitin comply with COPPA (Child Online Privacy Protection Act)?

    Yes. The FTC has specifically stated that COPPA’s requirements do not apply to sites that contract with schools to offer online programs for the benefit of the schools and their students, and collect personal information only for these purposes. (FTC COPPA FAQ #55.) Thus, these services are not required to get prior verifiable parental consent before collecting or maintaining personal information. Turnitin’s services, which include originality checks and online grading, are offered pursuant to Turnitin’s contracts with school districts, and Turnitin does not collect personal information for other purposes. The FTC has said that in such circumstances, operators like Turnitin may presume that the school has authorized the collection of personal information based upon the school having obtained the parents’ consent. Schools often obtain parental consent via Acceptable Use Policies that they provide to students and parents. In addition, COPPA also allows, but does not require, schools to act as agents on behalf of parents and to provide consent for the online collection of a student’s personal information within the school context. (FTC COPPA FAQ #54.)

  • Who can I contact at Turnitin if I have privacy concerns?

    We are always ready to answer any question or concerns you may have. Please write to us at legal@turnitin.com.