Surgery Test Questions Sold On eBay Infringe Copyrights?
from the welcome-to-the-new-world dept
Students stealing test questions and then giving them away or selling them is hardly anything new. However, can such students be accused of copyright infringement? A surgeon who failed his 2002 American Board of Surgery written exam apparently paid his $100 “sitting fee” to later have a chance to look over what he got wrong. Apparently deciding that the $100 was a “good investment” he copied down a bunch of the questions and answers, and later sold them on eBay for a small profit. He also passed the 2003 exam, noting that many of the questions were the same. The Board was not thrilled, eventually stripping him of his certification after having someone pose a potential buyer of the questions. However, they also sued him for copyright infringement and civil theft. The (no longer) surgeon admitted to the copyright infringement and agreed to pay the board $36,000 to hire surgeons to come up with new questions. However, this does raise a variety of questions. While the article focuses on how he got the questions by paying the sitting fee and studying his exam alone (a practice the Board is no longer allowing), is that different than if the surgeon-to-be had just memorized some of the questions while taking the exam? A quick search on Amazon turns up quite a few books with “sample” questions for this exam. It’s likely these sample questions were somehow based on real questions. Do they infringe on the copyrights as well? Also, how come no one is asking why the test uses the same questions every year, despite the fact that they were letting surgeons who failed review their failed exams? Finally, with so many other factors contributing to whether or not someone becomes a surgeon (medical school, training, an oral exam and a recommendation from a mentor) is it really such a big deal that a few of the questions got out there?