Dec 312011
 
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This came my way via Charlie on Facebook yesterday:

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, after thirty years of silence, authors 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. […]

That is to say, after a third of a century of silence, someone has responded to legal advice and decided they’d like to take a whole profession to the cleaners for using a medical checklist to assess the mental health of its patients.

The result?

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.

This, then, is truly an example of how copyright can (really) damage your health.  And if every time I mention the term you decide (as the stats would seem to indicate) to turn off – as if the matter had little to do with your real-life existences – I suggest you keep today’s post close to your heart for when you might dust it off the next time I bring the matter to your attention.

Copyright shouldn’t be so important, it is true.  But wicked men and women are abusing its power to make sitting on piles of cash an easier objective to achieve.

And whether this is at the cost of freedom of speech on the Internet or – alternatively – the mental wellbeing of millions of patients across the world, they care very little for the consequences on the rest of society as they proceed to gather together and concentrate more and more of our finite resources for their own individual benefit.


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