Boston University attempts to shut down term paper sale companies on the Internet





MASSACHUSETTS — Boston University hopes a lawsuit will help its students beat the temptation to cheat.

The University is seeking an injunction in federal court to stop Internet sites from selling term papers to students and is accusing these companies of racketeering and committing wire and mail fraud.

Massachusetts law makes it illegal for companies to sell term papers for students to submit as their own work. However, it is not illegal for these companies to sell research that may assist students in writing their own papers. The University wants to eliminate the students’ option of buying the research papers at all.

The lawsuit is unique in that the university is asking the court to cut off public access to legal sources of information because some people may use that information for unethical or illegal purposes.

When asked if a student newspaper that advertised such research companies would be held liable in the same way as the Internet sites have been, BU spokesperson Kevin Carleton said he was “unsure.”

Web-based term paper companies offer prepared or custom-made research papers in prices ranging to $15 per page.

Companies usually stipulate that purchased papers should be used only for research and never claimed as the students’ own work.

Most sites warn students that submitting the company’s research as their own is “unethical and illegal.”

Still, BU claims that their employees, working in a sting operation, bought papers from Internet term paper sites after explicitly telling the companies that they intended to submit the papers as their own work.

A research assistant from The Paper Store Enterprises, one of the eight companies from seven states being sued, says that most of the defendants plan to fight the university.

In addition to stopping sales, BU is asking for the dissolution of the companies, the safeguard and seizure of all business records and payment for damages and legal costs.


reports, Winter 1997-98