He Cheated!


“the exclusive right to make and sell copies of an intellectual production,” 1729, from copy (v.) + right (n.). As a verb, “to secure a copyright of,” from 1806 (implied in past-participle adjective copyrighted).


Image result for copyright

This is a familiar symbol  to  anyone who reads, writes, does art,  anything that can be considered intellectual property.  What is really surprising is how much copyright law has been developed since someone first had the idea to protect intellectual property from being plagiarized, copied,  wrongly claimed or attributed.

I’ve never applied for a copyright on anything, but from what little I know it’s a lengthy process–one of the many examples of the red tape and bureaucracy  that has grown with time in our country.

There are two sad aspects of all this.  I am not a lawyer, and I don’t have any  specialized legal  knowledge.  But I do understand the human heart quite well, and am rarely surprised at what contrivances people are capable of  in order to steal something from someone else.  Art, for example.  There are people who are truly gifted, but they make their living by copying the old masters and selling them at  quite outrageously high prices. If they would spend as much time and effort creating their own work, they probably wouldn’t become millionaires overnight, so they choose the  dark side instead.

On a lighter note, I taught English and history for high schoolers for several years. Because I taught both subjects, I assigned a paper that would draw from both  subjects, and the students were given a grade in history for content, and in English for mechanics, spelling, grammar, and appropriate form. There was a young man who thought the whole assignment was stupid, and I guess he thought I was stupid, too.  He wrote the first couple of pages on his computer, and then he stuck in several pages that were copied out of an encyclopedia. A couple more pages of his own were at the end.  I don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that he didn’t think I would really read all those pages, and that as long as the required number of pages was met, he’d get a good grade.

He was furious when I handed it back to him with a big, fat red zero   on the cover.  Did you get that?  HE was furious with ME!  He came storming up to my desk after class demanding to know why I’d given him a zero.

“Well, Stanley, (not his real name, of course)  that would be because most of it wasn’t your own work.  You cheated.  You tried to pass of an encyclopedia as your own writing, which you and I both know is nothing like your own writing. You didn’t complete the assignment, and you cheated. That’s a zero.”

“You can’t do this!  I’m going to tell my dad what you did to me!”  And he went charging out of the room in a temper

What I did to HIM?  Good grief.  As it turned out, I had a short chat with his dad,  and Stanley turned in a second paper a week later.  It met all the requirements of the assignment,  but it was a week late and it was full of grammatical errors.  Gave him a C-.  Again, he was furious, but this time he had the sense not to confront me.  His dad was on my side, glory be!  Parents aren’t always willing to back up the teacher in these situations, which I find very sad.  What the kid learns is that the teacher doesn’t matter, has no authority, and that he doesn’t need to waste any effort on any assignment.

I used to laugh when some kid came up to me wanting to know why I “gave” him such a low grade on his report card.  My stock answer?  “I don’t GIVE you a grade, my friend. You EARN that grade, and here is your line in my grade book which, if you look, you will see there are many assignments you didn’t turn in. That’s what the zeros are for. Then, take a look at your major test grades.  They hover between C and F.   You earned that grade.  And I will also remind you that I sent regular notes home, alerting your parents that you were not doing well.  I’ve done my job.  You didn’t do yours.”

That kid would usually walk away muttering “no fair” under his breath.

And isn’t it amazing where one little word can take a person?

RDP: Copyright


15 thoughts on “He Cheated!

  1. anie

    copyright is surely a need in our society, because the anger starts always when profit with money starts. Personally I do not care too much about copyright….I do not care if someone copy work in order to learn or having fun and also I did copy a lot in my life in order to learn…but of course as a teacher you have to have rules….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. anie

    at least he learned to cheat…; )…just kidding!!!!…To be honest, in my opinion you are often too strict and consistent. Although I know that consequence is very important, especially in education. I often miss that. Of course, I do not like lying and cheating when it’s against me or something I think is good. On the other hand, there are always occasions where I have to smile about cheating, because it can be charming or funny, if it is directed against something, which I consider as nonsense …. and then we are back to the subjective sense of right and Order…; )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a vast difference between teasing, playing a prank, just goofing off and lying, cheating, or stealing for selfishness’ sake, or out of sheer laziness or just plain malice. My students usually thought I was too strict, but by the end of the school year they were glad that I was. Training the character is just as important as teaching English or history.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. anie

        Hm, You are right there are lots of differences and there are surely lots of people/ students with are cheating because they are lazy, selfish and think their teachers are stupid. On the other side there are as many point of views to one situation… so what gives us the right to say our sight is the right one and to force others? Of course as a teacher you have the task to educate and you have to judge… I just want to say this is also a responsibility, a power… and power is the ruin of human being! My parents were not strict and I was always afraid of strict teacher… so I prefer consequent fair more than drilling strict…but maybe I am hypersensitive because of the germans history…we just have always to be careful to always have the same respect and tolerance which we wish that others have for us and never make a difference between people.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Most of my students would tell you I was quite fair, but strict. I can’t imagine the chaos of a classroom in which the teacher has no control. It is unfair to everyone, because no one learns, and the teacher can’t do his job. This, for me, is not a matter of judging others, but of doing the job well by creating an atmosphere of mutual respect teacher/student and student/student. You don’t gain respect by force; you only gain fear. Some students did fear me for the first few days, but that passed as they realized that the atmosphere of my classroom was one that made the feel safe and secure, and where they could learn. When the students are in charge of the classroom, the teacher fears every day, and it is impossible to learn.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. anie

        So I think you have the gift of the perfect balance, as your students feel secure and safe. It would be great if all teacher ( and parents) have this gift. I just wanted to say that I am worried in both directions… teacher who let their students do whatever they want and what end in chaos. But also teacher who think they are god and force their students without caring about fear and pain….

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m afraid these students who got away with cheating and finding ways around doing their own work are the ones that go on to run Ponzi schemes or design structures that collapse. 😦

    One student brought a knife to a local school one day. The teacher found out about it and took his knife away. His father, a policeman, came the next day and charged the teacher with theft and possession of stolen property. The boy graduated to criminal activities that landed him in jail. You have to wonder: how does Dad feel now? If parents could only get a glimpse of their childrens’ future!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. While I think we’ve gone way overboard on some of this “no guns, no weapons” stuff–I’m thinking of a little boy who inadvertently chewed his pb&J sandwich into the shape of a gun and ended up being suspended for a couple of days–I do agree that when a parent intervenes to keep his kid from consequences, that’s just asking for trouble. And yes, I know there are teachers who are unreasonable and really shouldn’t be in any classroom, but they are the exception and not the rule.


      1. The teacher was being quite reasonable in this case. Any other teacher would have done the same, because teens aren’t allowed to bring a potentially dangerous weapon, not in a small-town school like this. (I believe it would have been more than a jack-knife. Likely a switchblade. Something impressive, if I get the picture.)
        But yes, the big problem was the dad’s response.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was teaching in China, most of my students had “English names” to help them get into the English frame of mind, and much more importantly to my way to thinking so I could learn all their names.

    So, I got a paper from Eric that looked quite familiar. A quick check of Google showed me that the actual author was George Orwell. I gave Eric a zero and started calling him Eric Blair. He shaped up after that. Unlike not-Stanley, Eric never gave me any attitude whatsoever.

    Oh, and copyrights are lengthy, yes, but that’s just because of all the waiting. The application process itself is simple. When a copyright finally does get processed, the US Copyright Office back-dates it to when the payment cleared the bank, so waiting seven months (or more) isn’t really a big deal. They’re a lot slower now than they were when I got my first copyright. They were only $10 back then, too. Now I think they’re around $45.

    Liked by 1 person

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