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Another attempt to curb online comments about doctors

Some Medical Justice contracts go beyond restricting patients from speaking about care. They also claim anything written or published about a doctor becomes copyrighted material of the doctor. It’s an attempt to hold websites liable for posting patients’ reviews without the doctor’s permission, according to Matt Zimmerman, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which specializes in free speech, intellectual property and technology law.

“They’re trying to use every possible weapon in their arsenal to get these ratings taken down,” says John Swapceinski, co-founder of doctor-ratings website RateMDs.com. The site was recently asked to remove reviews about Dr.Gregg Govett, a Medical Justice client and Midwest City, Okla., physician, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

The federal law’s never been tested in this capacity, but multiple legal experts say the copyright claim, like the gag order contracts, won’t stand legal scrutiny. “Even if it was copyrighted property of the doctor, [posting] it could be considered a fair use, making a comment in the public interest,” Zimmerman says.

Swapceinski is confident his company will prevail if taken to court: “I’ve been contacted by a couple of lawyers who said, ‘If you guys get sued, I’d love to take the case.’”

Update: Swapceinski says the website withdrew Dr. Govett’s reviews for a 10-day waiting period mandated by the DMCA “safe harbor” provisions. This gives their web host, the Planet, protection from liability, although Govett may still sue RateMDs itself. After 10 days with no legal action from Govett, RateMDs reposted the reviews April 9. Govett and his attorney, Domingo Rivera, did not return repeated calls requesting comment.


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Company tries to stifle online reviews with patient ‘gag orders’

A small group of doctors around the country are asking their patients to sign medical gag orders, which prevent patients from sharing any details about their experience.

Comments

“I’ve been contacted by a couple of lawyers who said, ‘If you guys get sued, I’d love to take the case.’” Ha, ha! Of course they would. They would get their fees, win or lose.

I believe we have every right to comment about Dr's, Hosp's, Ect. GOOD Dr's are Not likely to get bad reviews. I feel we are within our rights to submit reviews. If Dr's are so concerned about BAD reviews, maybe they have good reason to fear what we have to say. From My experiences MOST Dr's need further trainig,believe what we tell them. I came to this Web Page looking for a GOOD new PCP. Hoping I might get a lead to a Dr I can trust.

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