Another attempt to curb online comments about doctors
“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.