Harvard Challenges Termpaper Firms
Harvard has defined the conditions under which it will prosecute companies that buy and sell termpapers to students here, according to Dean Epps.
"If we do get a case," Epps said yesterday, "we will try to go to court to ask that the company be required to discontinue the service because it is damaging the standard of the degrees we grant, as authorized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."
Should the Administration find a test case and decide to act on it, it would first be referred to the Administrative Board. It would then be given to Daniel Steiner '54, General Counsel to the University, who would prepare the case. "It is a strategy we're not sure of, but we're willing to try," said Epps.
It is not a strategy that is causing much concern among the termpaper companies, who feel their business rests on firm legal ground. "I've talked to nine of ten different lawyers and we don't even think we'd have to appeal. We would win immediately," Ward Warren, founder of Termpapers Unlimited, said yesterday.
Termpapers Unlimited is one of several organizations in the Boston area that buys termpapers and sells them to students who need them, often at 300 per cent profit or more. Some companies also employ writers to handle requests for papers on specific topics that they do not have on file, or papers that have to be written in a certain style for a certain course.
Truth or Consequences
Warren said that since his company sells its papers to customers as "research material." it cannot be held responsible for their final use. "Most students are fully aware of the results of plagiarism, and they take the consequences," he added.
Steiner said yesterday that because the issue had not yet become too serious, he had not given much thought to the legal specifics of a test case. "However. I go on the general theory thatwhere there is a wrong, there is a remedy," Steiner said. "It's disingenuous for the companies to say they don't know where the papers end up, and the courts are likely to take cognizance of that fact."
Ward, who said that "our most elite writers are from Harvard," remained unperturbed. "We've expected this and we've been prepared for it and I'm not going to lose any sleep over it," he said. "If we lose, the world's not going to end."