Why Doctors Shouldn't Abuse Copyright Law To Stop Patient Reviews

from the it's-bad-for-business dept

Two years ago, we wrote about a very sketchy operation, called Medical Justice, that was pushing a highly questionable plan to use the DMCA to stop patients from rating their doctors on online ratings sites. The plan works as follows: as part of your visit to the doctor, the doctor makes you sign a "waiver" provided by Medical Justice, which assigns the copyright on any review you might write to the doctor. Then, if you write a bad review, the doctor can claim copyright infringement, and use the DMCA takedown process to remove the bad review.

As we noted at the time, this is clearly not what copyright law was designed for.

We've also pointed out that it's not clear that this process is actually legal, and many reviews might not have any actual copyright anyway -- and in cases where there is copyright, a very strong fair use defense can be made. Still, Medical Justice has continued to convince doctors that this is a good idea, and two well-respected law professors have decided to begin educating doctors and patients about why they should be wary. Professors Eric Goldman and Jason Schultz have launched a new site called Doctored Reviews: Why Medical Justice's Anti-Review Contracts are a Poison Pill, hoping to convince doctors to stay away.

In the announcement, Goldman notes that if the website still fails to stop these kinds of practices, they may need to get more aggressive. Hopefully doctors realize that this is a bad idea. And, seriously, if your doctor made you sign one of these, wouldn't you go find a new doctor? If my doctor is trying to stifle bad reviews, then that makes me a lot more worried than any bad review. As Schultz notes in the press release:
"Doctors who use these gag-order contracts are essentially telling patients 'if you want medical care, you must sign away your right to free speech,' ... "More speech is the answer [to reviews]," he said, "not censorship and copyright abuse."
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Filed Under: contracts, copyright, doctors, free speech, reviews
Companies: doctored reviews, medical justice


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  1. identicon
    abc gum, 15 Apr 2011 @ 5:44am

    Medical Justice - what a strange choice of company name.

    I you have said 'bad' things, do they remove your tongue? Or if you post 'bad' things do they break your fingers?

    With a name like that one might think they were involved in chemical castration or other such things.

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