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Medicine Science

Copyright Claim Sets Back Cognitive Impairment Testing 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-invented-the-question-mark dept.
Kilrah_il writes "A recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial talks about the mini-mental state examination — a standardized screening test for cognitive impairment. After years of being widely used, the original authors claim to own copyright on the test and 'a licensed version of the MMSE can now be purchased [...] for $1.23 per test. The MMSE form is gradually disappearing from textbooks, Web sites, and clinical tool kits.' The article goes on to describe the working of copyright law and various alternative licenses, including GNU Free Documentation License, and ends with the following suggestion: 'We suggest that authors of widely used clinical tools provide explicit permissive licensing, ideally with a form of copyleft. Any new tool developed with public funds should be required to use a copyleft or similar license to guarantee the freedom to distribute and improve it, similar to the requirement for open-access publication of research funded by the National Institutes of Health.'"
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Copyright Claim Sets Back Cognitive Impairment Testing

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  • by Nemesisghost (1720424) on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:53AM (#38538174)
    I sincerely hope that all of the authors either have a stroke, Alzheimer's, or some other disease that impairs mental faculty and the attending doctor doesn't know how to perform this test due to their idiotic copyright enforcement.
    • by Bengie (1121981)

      Their Real Life Karma gets downgraded to flamebait?

    • by Mathinker (909784) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:03AM (#38538244) Journal

      The authors were letting everyone download the new test for free; a corporation, PAR [parinc.com], to which the old test had been licensed is to blame for claiming copyright over (elements of) the new test which may eventually replace the old one.

      Unfortunately, there's no easy way to leave them a comment about one's opinion of their behavior on their website. I looked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pla (258480)
        Unfortunately, there's no easy way to leave them a comment about one's opinion of their behavior on their website. I looked.

        You could try cs@parinc.com, their customer service email address.

        You could also try rsmith@parinc.com, their CEO.

        That said, pond scum doesn't usually care what you think about it.
        • Unless, apparently, it results in 10s of thousands of emails clogging their inbox, a public bitch-slapping of the companies that employ said pond scum and the hints to the wife of pond-scum that she married pond scum.

          Then pond scum seems to suddenly care.

          But that requires us to care. I think the current evolution of the testing methods, whereby the copyrighted tests are slowly erased from the working memory of the field, is bitch-slapping enough.

        • by Rone (46994)

          ...pond scum doesn't usually care what you think about it.

          If the backlash is big enough, it will.

          See the recent case study of Paul Christoforo (Captain "I wwebsite as on the Internet"), for example.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            There is a pretty major difference between a PR agent working solo, and a medical company that only sells to other companies in terms of caring about its reputation among geeks.

      • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:08PM (#38539686) Homepage Journal

        Unfortunately, there's no easy way to leave them a comment about one's opinion of their behavior on their website. I looked.

        You can leave a comment about the business, and a rating of their trustworthiness and vendor reliability here [mywot.com]. They should see it if they care about their website, and some of their site's visitors (depending on installed FF plugins) may see it. Whether that effects their business prospects is dubious, but it's something.

        If a business publicly asserts that a test which has similar mechanics to their test (but is a completely different expression) is a derived work, I'd say they're a bit untrustworthy (though to be fair, matters of law aren't something they claim expertise with -- OTOH, trustworthy people usually try to STFU on topics they don't understand (but we all make mistakes sometimes)). If they issue DMCA takedown notices based on that misconception, I'd say they're dangerously untrustworthy and no one can safely interact with them in commercial matters, which also impacts their "vendor reliability."

        What troubles me more than the copyright issue, is that TFA makes it sound like they sell a "licensed version" of the test. It doesn't say authorized copies (copyright terminology), but a licensed version, which implies there might be terms of use or a contract, wholly unlike how people normally buy most copyrighted works (though many proprietary software publishers now assert that too). That is a pretty threatening idea. I wonder if TFA got that right.

      • they have a website, don't they?
        sure would be a shame if something happened to it, so you could leave a comment! ;-)
    • Sorry, I didn't see that the summary incorrectly states that the authors of the older test were claiming infringement. AFAIK, they're not.

      I guess I failed the comprehension test. Actually, I didn't really read the summary carefully, since I was already familiar with the actual facts.

      • Re:Apologies (Score:5, Informative)

        by John Newman (444192) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:13PM (#38540452)

        Sorry, I didn't see that the summary incorrectly states that the authors of the older test were claiming infringement. AFAIK, they're not.

        I guess I failed the comprehension test. Actually, I didn't really read the summary carefully, since I was already familiar with the actual facts.

        I am one of the authors of the NEJM op/ed article.

        It is all a little confusing. There are three parties here:
        1. The original authors of the MMSE, who through PAR are strictly enforcing copyright protections of the MMSE
        2. The authors of a new tool, the Sweet 16, which was created as an open-access alternative to the MMSE but was "taken down" by PAR in a copyright dispute
        3. Us, the authors of TFA, who have no relationship to #1 or #2 but are very worried about what this all means for the practice and progress of medicine

        • by CmdTako (2503216)

          I am one of the authors of the NEJM op/ed article.

          "permissive licensing, ideally with a form of copyleft." permissive licensing [wikipedia.org] is copycenter NOT copyleft.

          • My apologies, I meant permissive-with-a-small-p only as an antonym for restrictive. I admit I wasn't aware of the technical meaning. Thank you for pointing it out. I think the phrasing still made sense to most readers. Remember that for most of the physicians who read NEJM this was probably the first time they had even heard of copyleft.

        • by Mathinker (909784)

          Hi, nice to see you here on Slashdot (and with a smaller UID than me, no less).

          I admit to have been confused (particularly on-topic here, I suppose) because I was very concentrated on the (seemingly frivolous) takedown of The Sweet 16.

          I did not understand that the MMSE had historically been used and copied freely and only recently been licensed to PAR, and the consequences of the new licensing terms are perhaps even more consequential to the medical profession.

          I would like to point you to a blog post by a p

    • Another brick in the wall, but maybe that phrase is also under Copyright.

      For a while there I thought that maybe to start asking someone who does or says something lame, "Who is the President of the United States? What State (of the Union) are we living in? What did you have for lunch?" was a malicious yet funny put-down, much as the terms "Florida driver" and "I've fallen, and I can't get up!" have become part of the lexicon. But for now, the Mini-Mental is a dark inside-joke, a kind of battlefield hum

  • Public Funds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fedos (150319) <allen DOT bouchard AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @10:54AM (#38538182) Homepage

    Any new tool developed with public funds should be entered into the public domain.

    FTFY

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Exactly...

      We should not allow a private entity to use public funds to offset development costs then privatize/copyright the profits.

      • If it was made using public funds then it's "a work for hire"- meaning we own the copyright. We really need to insist on our (public) rights to the things we pay for.
    • Re:Public Funds (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:03AM (#38538248)

      Do you have any evidence this test was developed using public funds? I honestly don't know, but Wikipedia says it was developed by Marshal F. Folstein, Susan Folstein, and Paul R. McHugh in 1975. McHugh is the only author with his own Wikipedia page (and I'm too lazy to do further research), but in 1975 he worked for Johns Hopkins University, which is a private university.

      • by moortak (1273582)
        A private university that receives about a half billion in annual NIH grants. http://report.nih.gov/award/trends/FindOrg_Detail.cfm?OrgID=4134401 [nih.gov]
    • Any new tool developed with public funds should be entered into the public domain.

      FTFY

      True, but you would have to define what constitutes "developed with public funds." I do work for the government, and will sometimes modify something I've already developed for them. While I think a valid argument could be made that the modifications were public domain; the original work is not. It's not as easy as it sounds, especially when the work in question is:

      A derivative work, and

      not necessarily something that is specifically covered by a contract (i.e. - not a "develop this test" or "write code tha

    • A similar situation, where copyright shows its ugly leash, appears in everyday medical practice. The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes describe the type of service that a doctor has provided (e.g. simple office visit, complex office visit, appendix operation, etc.) and is used a few dozen times a day by insurance companies all around the USA to determine payment for services. It becomes essential for every doctor and every clinic/hospital to know the definition of these codes in order to remain f

      • by Mathinker (909784)

        Uggh. Reminds me of how Pantone has all the colors copyrighted.

        It's things like this which make me even surer that copyright needs a really big overhaul, if not being abolished totally.

      • by dmr001 (103373)

        1. The AMA came up with the CPT code list, so they hold it hostage for money to fund updating it (and perhaps for hookers and coke - who knows). In any event, most electronic medical record software has searachable CPT lists; most doctors only use a small subset of the list which they memorize; and if you're stuck and don't have a book around you can do a search on the AMA website for free (https://catalog.ama-assn.org/Catalog/cpt/cpt_search.jsp?locality=OR) or just google it (try "CPT circumcision").

        2. Th

      • Not trying to contradict you (you're absolutely right) but I know that the RBRVS [ezfees.com] CPT lookup application does let you export into CSV...

        In case you were still looking for something.

    • Let me introduce you to the Bayh Dole act. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayh%E2%80%93Dole_Act [wikipedia.org] Before this act, all IP generated by federally funded research was assigned to the federal government which in essence put it into the public domain. The argument comes down to this. Before Bayh-Dole, most research likely to result in profitable products was conducted in companies and the results of the research were kept as trade secrets. After Bayh-Dole, we have much more research being conducted in universi
    • I agree with the concept, but I disagree in practice. Tools, copyrightable material, patentable materials, etc developed in part or in whole with public funds should be owned (in part or whole) by the public (i.e. the gov't). Whether those items are then put into the public domain, or whether the gov't receives it's share of any royalties can be decided on a case by case basis.

      Some may ask, why should I pay a royalty to use something I already paid to fund? First off, all taxpayers funded it, yet not all ta

  • by pla (258480) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:01AM (#38538238) Journal
    Copyright covers the actual content of the test, not the concept of a short battery of simple test of various cognitive skills.

    So... Rewrite the damned test. Use different math problems, different spatial problems, different linguistic problems, which gets around the copyright issue entirely but still fundamentally measures the same underlying capacity.

    17+34 doesn't magically measure basic math ability "better" than 15+29 just because Folstein, Folstein, and McHugh blessed it.
    • by Mathinker (909784) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:08AM (#38538290) Journal

      The authors did. That didn't help them against the infringement claims of the corporation which benefits from an older test.

      This is one example why many believe copyright does on the whole more damage than benefit to society.

      • Anyone can claim copyright infringement. Having a judge enforce the copyright is a completely different matter.

        • That's correct. But if you are just a couple of clinicians seeking to Do Good and you come up with a test that looks like a product protected by Copyright, then you get Evil Lawyer contacting you with vaguely threatening letters. Then you have to hire your own Evil Lawyer to contest this.

          Costs money, takes time.

          Granted for something as important as the mini mental status exam (which is used daily by thousands of people) might be able to find an organization willing to go through with the process but it's

          • It was just a website that took the test down. They probably thought it wasn't worth the effort to fight.

            If they tried to take on author of the new test and demand compensation, there would have more incentive to defend it in court.

            • by John Newman (444192) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:26PM (#38539890)

              I'm one of the authors on the NEJM article.

              The developers of the Sweet 16 - the test apparently "taken down" for copyright infringement of the MMSE - were all Harvard faculty, and work for academic centers that are affiliated with Harvard and its hospitals (Hospital Elder Life Program, Institute for Aging Research and Hebrew Senior Life). The senior author of the Sweet 16 is a well-known Harvard professor [hebrewseniorlife.org]. One of the things we find concerning about this case is that Harvard Medical School probably has some claim to ownership of the Sweet 16, and was presumably involved in its defense. If Harvard, with its vast resources, could not or chose not to defend the Sweet 16 successfully, what hope do any other researchers have to develop new cognitive testing tools?

              • I'm not a lawyer but claiming that you can use copyright to prevent others from creating cognitive test just doesn't smell right. If they had a patent, I can see them enforcing it, but not a copyright. I would like to know a legal opinion on the matter.

                Pressuring a website is different than preventing others from using the Sweet 16 test. Maybe the website was being overly cautious or did a costs benefits analysis and they thought it wasn't worth the costs of litigation. There just seems to be more to t

        • by Mathinker (909784)

          And having the money to defend yourself is a completely different matter.

          It seems to me, however, that some medical institutions might be able to organize a not-for-profit holding corporation to which the copyrights of the newer test are assigned, and fund it to distribute the newer test for free with open licensing while having the means to defend against the infringement claim.

    • While it probably wouldn't be a problem to re-write the test with different questions, there is a question of testing the validity and reliability of the new items.

      The original has been in use since the 70's and has had the validity and reliability demonstrated multiple times. New questions that seem the same might actually not get at the same constructs as well or might have something else going on. Generally instruments like this aren't modified casually.

      In my work (psychology and public health research)

    • by izomiac (815208)
      There are other tests, such as the SLUMS. However, different clinicians use different tests because of this mess, which makes it difficult when a patient switches providers. For example, in the MMSE a patient is asked to copy a drawing of two overlapping geometric shapes. In the SLUMS they're asked to draw an analog clock. With the same test you can compare results over time and track the progression of the patient's dementia. With different tests, the results are not directly comparable. Overall scor
  • by Shoten (260439) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:05AM (#38538268)

    ...uh, I don't understand...

  • Sweet 16 vs MMSE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sudnshok (136477) * on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:09AM (#38538304)

    According to the article, an alternative test called Sweet 16 was produced and was subsequently killed by the MMSE copyright owners' legal action. It sounded like the Sweet 16 used completely new copy but similar logic. Can you copyright logic if all the words are completely different? I'd love to see a comparison of those two tests.

    On a side note, I hope no one owns the copyright on the eye chart. I like getting my eyes checked every year or two.

    • Re:Sweet 16 vs MMSE (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:17AM (#38538384)

      According to the article, an alternative test called Sweet 16 was produced and was subsequently killed by the MMSE copyright owners' legal action. It sounded like the Sweet 16 used completely new copy but similar logic. Can you copyright logic if all the words are completely different? I'd love to see a comparison of those two tests.

      On a side note, I hope no one owns the copyright on the eye chart. I like getting my eyes checked every year or two.

      If the logic is germane to the item in question, yes you can copyright logic. Think of it as music and the logic is the step changes from note to note. Changing all the notes to a different key isn't unique enough to say it is a different work.

      • If the logic is germane to the item in question, yes you can copyright logic. Think of it as music and the logic is the step changes from note to note. Changing all the notes to a different key isn't unique enough to say it is a different work.

        Maybe. But is your analogy accurate? You can't, for example, copyright a chord progression -- otherwise, all 1950s and 60s bubble-gum pop would be considered the "same song."

        I don't know enough about the specific test in question, but the idea that you can copyright the logic necessary to solve a problem or a specific collection of similar types of problems sounds absolutely crazy. How can anyone ever publish a new math textbook then, without someone claiming copyright infringement? Surely the methodo

        • by BillX (307153)

          This case sounds more like they are claiming copyright on a particular dish itself based on the inclusion of a couple key ingredients, regardless of the actual recipe steps, text or ingredient proportions.

          • I agree with what you're saying regarding the whole test.

            However, regardless of the status of the whole collection of the test, as I understand it, it seems the complaint is arising over a claim of copyright on those few key items and their specific content. My question (and the one the GP was addressing) is whether one can claim copyright over something as general as a problem type.

            To be clear, my analogy was referring to the specific types of problems/questions used, and to the GP's reference to "log

            • by Mastodon (757726)

              However, regardless of the status of the whole collection of the test, as I understand it, it seems the complaint is arising over a claim of copyright on those few key items and their specific content.

              Yes. Was it really necessary for the Sweet 16 to use the same 3 words to remember (apple/table/penny) as the MMSE?

      • Re:Sweet 16 vs MMSE (Score:5, Informative)

        by urulokion (597607) on Friday December 30, 2011 @12:35PM (#38539246)

        No you can't copyright logic. Nor can you copyright a thought. Nor can you copyright a plot. Copyright protects the expression of logic, thoughts, plots, et. al. So you can't copyright a plot, but you can copyright a screenplay which is an expression of a plot. You can't a thought, you can copyright a poem which expresses that thought. And you can't copyright the idea of a way to testing cognitive functioning, but you can copyright a standardized test to test cognitive functioning

        The only way the Sweet 16 test could me infringing is if it's a derivative of the MMSE test. And I would suspect the creator of the Sweet 16 explicitly avoided that particular trap. It sounds like she created her own test using the general methodology used by the MMSE. Hmmm. Why does that sounds familiar...protection of methodology? Because that's the realm of patents. That's the only thing that the Sweet 16 test could be infringing. But any possible patent protection for the MMSE test has long since expired.

        • by pclminion (145572)

          No you can't copyright logic.

          So, I can take the Linux kernel source and run it through a program which changes identifiers and manipulates loops so that the same effect is achieved in different "words", and gain complete rights?

          • So, I can take the Linux kernel source and run it through a program which changes identifiers and manipulates loops so that the same effect is achieved in different "words", and gain complete rights?

            No, that would still be a derivative work.

          • by urulokion (597607)

            The Linux Kernel source code is an expression of logic which is copyrightable..

            Your example would be a derivative work which would be infringing. And debatable whether it qualified for copyright protection itself. It's a mechanically created rendition lacking any creativity.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            if you could do that without the linux source.

            but - the point is here, that if the crappy corps claims were valid, then NOBODY could write a new operating system and linux would be a derivative of minix.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          No you can't copyright logic.

          I'm pretty sure my Philosophy 101 book was copyrighted. It was full of logic. :)

        • The moment the person or people who wrote the Sweet 16 test, read a copy of the MMSE test, its a derivative work, which is why Compaq, Award and Phoenix all created the IBM BIOS in clean room techniques so that the people writing their code had never seen IBM's, and therefor non-infringing.

      • by drcln (98574)

        According to the article, an alternative test called Sweet 16 was produced and was subsequently killed by the MMSE copyright owners' legal action. It sounded like the Sweet 16 used completely new copy but similar logic. Can you copyright logic if all the words are completely different? I'd love to see a comparison of those two tests.

        On a side note, I hope no one owns the copyright on the eye chart. I like getting my eyes checked every year or two.

        If the logic is germane to the item in question, yes you can copyright logic. Think of it as music and the logic is the step changes from note to note. Changing all the notes to a different key isn't unique enough to say it is a different work.

        Sorry, that analogy is wrong. A change of key, or simply swapping all the variable names, is simply not a deemed a meaningful difference for copyright purposes. That does not mean one can copyright facts or logic.

        Copyright protects only unique novel expression. Copyright will not protect a generic question requiring the subject to remember three items. One cannot copyright the fact that a person who cannot remember three items is probably impaired. But, copyright might protect the manner in which the q

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Do the MMSE results depend on the order (logic) the questions were given or can a random order be interpreted to give the same results (I'm asking, I do not know). However, if the there is a specific sequencing to the questions, then one can argue that it is protected along with the questions them self. Only the medical community that used those tests can really make that determination.

          Probably not related to MMSE, but if question 2 builds on question 1 and 3 builds on 2, then logic is inherent in the ques

    • According to the article, the Sweet 16 test was killed by the THREAT of legal action.

      It was taken down because the organization doesn't want to spend money and go to court to defend the test.

    • Re:Sweet 16 vs MMSE (Score:5, Informative)

      by John Newman (444192) on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:40PM (#38540092)

      I'm one of the authors of the NEJM article.

      We didn't have the space to describe the MMSE and Sweet 16 in detail, but here's a brief description:

      The MMSE has 30 items, which include 10 orientation questions (what's today's date, where are we, etc.) and 6 questions for recall (say 3 standard words, repeat them back and remember them for 5 minutes or so).

      The Sweet 16 has 16 items which include 8 orientation questions and 6 questions for recall (using different words than the MMSE). The other two questions involve repeating a sequence of numbers backwards.

      So there is a lot of overlap between the two tests, and that was presumably the basis for an infringement claim. However, the items that overlap - orientation and recall - are quite generic and were in wide use long before the MMSE was created in 1975. Nevertheless, the authors behind Sweet 16 and their institution could not or chose not to defend the Sweet 16.

      It's a little hard to imagine a cognitive assessment tool that doesn't include orientation or short-term memory recall questions, so this will strongly discourage progress in the field. Perhaps one of the Alzheimer's advocacy groups will take notice and defend researchers trying to advance the state of the art.

      • by urulokion (597607)

        It's a little hard to imagine a cognitive assessment tool that doesn't include orientation or short-term memory recall questions, so this will strongly discourage progress in the field. Perhaps one of the Alzheimer's advocacy groups will take notice and defend researchers trying to advance the state of the art.

        Good grief! That confirms what I previously posted. The tests are embodiments of methodologies that have been developed in the field over the years. Unless the Sweet 16 test lifted entire sections, MMSE has absolutely no copyright infringement case against the Sweet 16 test. You can't use copyright law to protect method. That is what patent law is for. But PAR is a licensee of the MMSE test, MMSE's coporation might have recourse via the license terms.

        • All that counts is whether you have the legal clout to stare down the other guy. It has nothing to do with what is right or what is strictly legal. It's pure brinkmanship. What counts in almost every case is how deep your pockets are, frivolousness or abusiveness of lawsuits is only meaningful in the size of the check you can write to your lawer. Sad sometimes when the IP game detrimentally affects the most vulnerable people in society, but this is America, the land where the lawyer laws you!

  • by J'raxis (248192) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:13AM (#38538336) Homepage

    Any tool developed using public funds should be placed in the public domain.

    I use copyleft for my own works, but I do so as a defense against anyone else trying to claim a standard "all rights reserved" copyright over my works. I would public-domain them if I could do so safely. I use copyright law and its ability to place restrictions upon the free flow of information merely to make sure someone else can't take a piece of information I wish to offer freely and wrap it in their own, non-free, worse "all rights reserved" copyright and license.

    So, whereas I personally support the restrictions that copyleft creates, in the broadest sense, one must admit that copyleft's restrictions are as much restrictions as standard copyright's are. "No" is "no" whether or not you agree with it. It's an individual, political/ideological decision to copyleft a work rather than use a standard copyright.

    And works paid for by the public---paid for by everyone, without their explicit consent---should not be subject to political/ideological decisions. Everyone paid for these works, including people who strongly oppose the spirit of copyleft. Therefore, these works should be returned to the public with no restrictions placed upon them.

  • by Mathinker (909784) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:17AM (#38538380) Journal

    The corporation, PAR [parinc.com], to which the older test is licensed, is behind this. AFAIK, the doctors who authored the older test haven't personally claimed infringement. My guess is that they received a single payment for licensing their test to PAR, and therefore they have no financial stake in the success or failure of the newer test.

  • by Skal Tura (595728)

    This world is CRAZY.
    Come on, copyright on a medical test oO;
    This is like a band doing cover song of other bands song, and being forbidden to do that due to copyright. Which afaik is a form of fair use.

    Next someone has copyrighted showing the middle finger.

    • by saphena (322272)

      Why would you consider that to be an example of "fair use"? Looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Fair_use_under_United_States_law [wikipedia.org] I get "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

      The band in question wouldn't be "forbidden" to make the cover, they would simply need to agree licensing terms with the copyright holder. That [licensing] sounds perfectly fair and reasona

  • The corporation PAR [parinc.com], which benefits from the older test, the MMSE, has caused a newer, openly licensed test called "The Sweet 16", to be taken down by claiming infringement on elements of the older test, even though as far as anyone knows, they have no legal basis for doing so.

  • by Chemisor (97276) on Friday December 30, 2011 @11:53AM (#38538802)

    This clearly illustrates that cognitive impairment is caused by copyright, not junk food, as the above mentioned study concludes.

  • by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craigNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @01:29PM (#38539930)

    This reminds me of the Time Zone Database debacle of this year, when that astrology products company bought out the atlas/almanac from which much of the data was derived, and then immediately turned around and sued the two individual authors of the Database, even though they never made a dime from it and included a full attribution of the source in the Database. How did that turn out? It's been months with no further word here or anywhere else frequent.

    These are two of the best anecdotes to highlight the surreptitiously greedy stupidity of current (and most historical) copyright law.

  • As someone who administers cognitive tests for both research and clinical work, I can state that the Mini-Mental is not a very useful test (we sometimes use it clinically {because medical doctors want it} and for research {because some reviewers think that it's necessary information, which is ridiculous given the amount of other cognitive data we collect}). It's a screener that is easy to administer but it is neither sensitive nor specific. The test, frankly, doesn't tell us very much. There are other alter
    • I'm not saying the MMSE is useless, it's just no big loss if there is copyright being claimed now. We'll move on to something else.

      I'm one of the authors of the NEJM article.

      People already are moving on. In our practice we mostly use the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA [mocatest.org]) for screening, which is much more sensitive and has liberal licensing terms for non-commercial use.

      But this is a general issue. The Sweet 16 was an attempt to move on, halted by PAR. I'm surprised that PAR hasn't already sued the MOCA au

      • by Mastodon (757726)

        But this is a general issue. The Sweet 16 was an attempt to move on, halted by PAR. I'm surprised that PAR hasn't already sued the MOCA authors given that the MOCA includes recall and orientation, like the Sweet 16. Even if it survives, the MOCA is not perfect- it has laudably generous licensing terms for copying, but no provision for derivative works. In 80 years, the heirs of the MOCA authors might well start suing researchers who use a trails test, clock draw and animal recognition in a new test.

        I a

  • The legal doctrine of estoppel says that you can't give a work away freely for decades and then suddenly start charging for it. The rights holders are estopped from enforcing their rights.
  • Copyright covers an expression, not an implementation (the domain of a patent).

    All that is necessary is for someone to rewrite the description of how to do the test, and disclaim copyright. Voila, the problem is solved.

  • Ive never seen a clearer cut case. They allowed people to become dependent on using their tool for a period of twenty years.

  • I read the title as; "Copyright Claims Set Back Cognition: Impaired Testers."

    Actually, sometimes a Freudian Slip is more insightful than the actual statement.

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:29PM (#38543106) Journal

    It appears from their website that what PAR wants you to do is order sets of test forms, then use the test forms once per exam. But they can't actually require you to do it that way. You can make a scoring sheet (without the questions) and record the patient's scores on the scoring sheet, while giving the exam from a legitimate copy (perhaps one ordered from PAR, perhaps one obtained from the original journal) or even an illegitimate one, without violating copyright. The same exam sheet can be used over and over again.

    Copyright 101 (and 106):
    Copyright covers reproduction, distribution, derivative works, public performance, and public display. Giving a screening exam is not _public_ performance of the work.

  • I am a neurologist. During training, an MMSE was basically a required component of a history and physical exam of any patient with cognitive complaints. It has its limits, but within them it is very useful.

    It's pretty hard to believe that a collection of cognitive tests, almost all of which can be and are used separately in a more customized examination of the patient's sensorium, can be so creative as to be copyrighted.

    The idea that the Sweet 16 could infringe because it contains "orienation" and "memory r

    • by Mastodon (757726)

      The idea that the Sweet 16 could infringe because it contains "orienation" and "memory recall" items similar to the MMSE is absurd; questions about orientation and immediate/delayed recall are standard with or without the MMSE.

      You are correct. It's absurd and therefore likely not the real problem.

      Recall that copyright protects the expression of an idea, not a concept or process. The claim seems to be that the Sweet 16 infringes, not the original 30 point MMSE, but the MMSE-2 BV (Brief Version) which ap

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