copyrightdoc Copyright vs Medicine: If this topic isnt covered in your newspaper this weekend, get a new newspaperAccording to the New England Journal of Medicine, after thirty years of silenceauthors of a standard clinical psychiatric bedside test have issued take down orders of new medical research. Doctors who use copies of the bedside test which will have been printed in some of their oldest medical textbooks are liable to be sued for up to $150,000. The New England Journal of Medicine makes the stark comparison that “Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter all use open-source software at the heart of their products” yet when it comes to medicine, developments are very often, very far from open-source. This case demonstrates the tragic state of affairs that even the ghosts of positively ancient abandoned copyrights for the very simplest of ideas can be used to block new medical work through legal bullying. The basic nature of the information that is protected in this case only begins to illustrate the harm that is really possible when even more powerful and innovative ideas are placed under lock and key for the rest of living memory.

“For three decades after its publication, in 1975, the Mini–Mental State Examination (MMSE) was widely distributed in textbooks, pocket guides, and Web sites and memorized by countless residents and medical students…

New England Journal of Medicine (29/12/2011)

The test which is the “evaluation of choice for most general doctors” now requires a payment of $1.23 per copy which is likely to prevent it’s use in both teaching and clinical settings. More worryingly still, a new 16 item test known as the “sweet 16” developed at Harvard that is based on the original 30 item screening test has been taken down due to legal orders.

“This action, unprecedented for a bedside clinical assessment tool, has sent a chill through the academic community”

New England Journal of Medicine (29/12/2011)

This news is highly relevant in light of the ongoing SOPA scandal that is currently threatening the internet as we know it. Many fail to realise that copyright is valid 70 years after the death of the author and up to 120 years after the creation of the work. The use of copyright law to prevent the clinical use of medical tests and to prevent new medical tests being developed is something many of us would only expect to really happen in dystopian fiction. The fact of the matter is that it is happening in real life.

via Mindhacks

Newman, J., & Feldman, R. (2011). Copyright and Open Access at the Bedside New England Journal of Medicine, 365 (26), 2447-2449 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1110652

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  • Copy

    (pssst … don’t mean to be a spelling nazi … but after all it is your headline .. title needs a quick spell check) Frightening prospect … good read … yet another reason to take copyright law into THIS century. 

    • Neurobonkers

      Thanks, fixed!

      Subject: [neurobonkers] Re: Copyright vs Medecine: If this topic isn’t covered in your newspaper this weekend, get a new newspaper

  • Pingback: How copyright can (really) damage your health »

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