You have to do everything yourself!
Ghostwriting is not an invention of modern times, but was already a common practice in antiquity. Somebody writes a text that is declared by someone else as his intellectual product. But at the latest since the case of Mr. Ex-doctor zu Guttenberg we ask ourselves more and more as a student on which thin layer of legal ice we move there.
The foreign writing of meaningful texts, which can be read either as a statement or as a speech, has long been known from many areas of politics.
But just in recent years, more and more cases came to light, in which graduates have let write the final thesis and put her own name as an author – of course, with a corresponding affidavit.
But where exactly is the problem now?
Deception and forgery
Anyone who spends a foreign work as his own performance falsifies an examination and deliberately deceives his university.
That’s clear. But how is that legal?
The first problem can, according to § 156 StGB, already be the wrong insurance on oath. With this declaration, the graduate assures that the submitted work is his own intellectual property – which in this sense already fulfills the facts of a written lie (see § 267 StGB).
Such an attempt to deceive can also be considered a forgery of documents. Background: A deed is given when a proof of intent as well as a certain embodied declaration of thought allows its exhibitor to recognize it. University work fulfills exactly this purpose. There is a document forgery if the “wrong exhibitor” can be recognized.
Cheating on the thesis means deception and forgery.
But it does not seem to be that clear after all.
Many ghostwriting agencies argue that the signed document (in this case the affidavit) is signed by the very person who made it and printed it: the student who did the work written by the third party. Thus, the document itself is not considered fake.
The whole thing thus leaves room for interpretation.
Violation of copyright
Let’s take a look at copyright.
The one who creates something new, or authored in this sense, according to the principle of creation of the author (see § 7 UrhG). According to § 2 Abs. 1 Nr. 1 UrhG, a written product belongs to the works, which can be protected by copyright.
The “ability” is the decisive point in this case.
In order to determine to what extent the present text is a written novelty, the so-called level of creation is questioned. Among other things, the content, the form, the linguistic design, etc. are taken into account.
This also has to be individually checked and evaluated from case to case.
Core question: Who is the author of the text?
It should also be paid attention to how the rights of use are regulated in the respective text. In the most common case, the ghostwriter relinquishes the right to use his work, so that the text can be used by the contractor without restrictions.
Violation of the examination and doctoral regulations
But what do the universities actually say?
In general, a written thesis at the end of the studies or at the end of the doctoral period should show what the future graduate has learned in the context of academic education.
The work should show that you are able to independently work on a problem within a given time limit according to scientific methods.
Accordingly, the work must be written by the graduate himself. And so it is written down in every examination regulations.
If you have this work written by a stranger, you will undoubtedly violate the exam regulations. Often a proven deception leads to an evaluation of the work with 5.0 and in the worst case to the exmatriculation.
Eventually, everything comes to light.
A foreign-written work that you give out as your intellectual property is no exception.
If it is discovered that you have not written your thesis yourself, you will be deprived of at least the academic title obtained from the thesis. Furthermore, all titles acquired up to this point in time can be withdrawn – regardless of whether you have used outside help or not.
If you hire a ghostwriter not to write your thesis, but do a housework and “get caught,” you also have to expect a disfavoring of your previous titles as well as an immediate exmatriculation.
Universities do not understand fun at this point!
To what extent further legal consequences due to the abovementioned facts can come to you, is to be examined in the individual case and also depends on the university. You may also face additional civil, penal and labor law consequences.
Ghostwriting quite legal: That’s how it’s done!
Do not be surprised: ghostwriting itself is not illegal, quite the contrary!
Ghostwriting is a normal service where a job writer creates a text for you. There is nothing wrong with that in itself.
This is because the rights of use of the manufactured product are assigned to the client within the concluded contract. Accordingly, it is perfectly legal to use what you have acquired.
If you, for example, Using the work of a ghostwriter merely as a “basis of inspiration” and only serving as a stimulus for your own work, you do not make a mistake.
You will not exceed a limit until you affirm affidavit that you are the author of the particular document and misuse it to obtain a title.
Of course, you can also hire a ghostwriter to create other material for you that has nothing to do with an exam.
These include e.g. Application documents or motivation letter. At this point there is neither a forgery nor a false affidavit, as the information for the documents will be supplied by yourself.
Ghostwriters are not the Jack the Ripper of your scientific career. They can even help you in your job, for example, when you get a lecturer to pick up a topic that you really have no idea about and need inspiration for.
But keep in mind that the services of ghostwriters for exam situations are only and exclusively to inspire you.
You must not decorate yourself with foreign feathers and spend the intellectual property of another as your own achievement. With that, you would risk a lot and put your hitherto hard-earned university degree on the line.
And that’s not worth it, is it?