CHICAGO (February 5, 2010) — Dealing a solid blow to unauthorized online “term-paper mills,” a cross-disciplinary team of lawyers from McDermott Will & Emery LLP won a permanent injunction against an internet-based distributor of educational papers accused of selling previously copyrighted works without the owners’ permission. In granting the injunction, Chief Judge David R. Herndon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois noted that the defendant, Rusty Carroll, and his company, R2C2 Inc. of Carbondale, Illinois, had caused “irreparable harm” to the plaintiffs and innumerable other authors. Judge Herndon ordered Mr. Carroll to stop selling term papers unless he can prove that he has permission from the papers’ authors.
The decision in Weidner, et al. v. Carroll, et al. caps off a series of pro bono legal actions by the McDermott team on behalf of two college professors whose copyrighted academic work was misappropriated by the owner of several term-paper-mill websites. Such websites are used by some students to purchase educational papers on various scholarly topics, which are later submitted as their own work to instructors and professors. McDermott first defeated the defendant’s motion to dismiss, then succeeded in gaining class certification for all individuals whose work was being sold without authorization. The team then won a victory on the merits of the case, which led to the permanent injunction hearing and the judge’s ruling on January 21, 2010. McDermott is now preparing to file a motion on behalf of the class for monetary damages.
McDermott’s cross-disciplinary team included both intellectual property and trial lawyers. In interviews following the decision, the lead lawyers on the team spoke out against the use of misappropriated materials. McDermott partner Eric J. Conn said, “We'd like to stop this practice, or get as close to stopping it as we can.” Added associate Rita Weeks, “In the end, our perseverance did pay off.” The named plaintiff in the case, Chad Weidner, currently a lecturer at Roosevelt Academy in the Netherlands, added his personal perspective: "Real research is both time-consuming and difficult. To think that there is some kind of quick fix, be it a paper sold online, a paper borrowed from a peer or creative rewriting of an academic's work, is just unacceptable."
In addition to ordering the defendant to stop selling unauthorized works online, Judge Herndon ordered that any sworn written authorizations received by original authors must be attached to all papers that appear on websites owned by the company. He further ordered the defendant to serve any such documentation of authorization upon the court every three months for the next two years.
The McDermott team was led by partners John Dabney and Eric Conn. Rita Weeks and Mr. Conn argued Plaintiffs' motion for permanent injunction. The team also included Sara Coury, Rahul Rao, Emre Ilter, John Walker, Elizabeth Philpott and Katie Bukrinsky.