This is just bloody terrible, and makes me want to get into the self-publishing business …
Via Ben Goldacre I’ve read this morning about the copyright owners of the Folstein Mini Mental State Examination, and their efforts to extract money for its use (which in one sense is fair, but they’ve ignored their copyright for the last thirty years, during which the test has become ubiquitous and pretty much indispensable), and, it seems, to get rid of an open-access alternative developed and validated at Harvard.
Dick move, PAR. Totes dick move.
As the NEJM said:
For clinicians, the risk of infringement is real. Photocopying or downloading the MMSE probably constitutes infringement; those who publish the MMSE on a Web site or pocket card could incur more severe penalties for distribution. Even more chilling is the “takedown” of the Sweet 16, apparently under threat of legal action from PAR (although PAR has not commented publicly). Are the creators of any new cognitive test that includes orientation questions or requires a patient to recall three items subject to action by PAR? However disputable the legal niceties, few physicians or institutions would want to have to argue their case in court.
So … If we ask someone where they are, and to remember a few things, we’re infringing copyright? And a screening tool that does so must be pulled down and kept away from use? I guess if it might impede money-making then that’s only right and proper….
You know, I think the Mind Hacks blog said it best:
Cashing-in on a simple and now, clinically essential, bedside test that you’ve ignored for three decades makes you seem, at best, greedy.
Taking down open-access equivalents because they also ask people the location and date and to remember a handful of words and numbers makes you a seem like a cock and a danger to clinical progress.
So as I said: self-publishing … I feel like photocopying thousands of copies, and just handing them out on street corners, and leaving them in letterboxes, and giving it to everyone.
Maybe I’ll post PAR a bunch of IOUs…
And a photo of my middle finger.