ME-P Copyright Guidelines

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About Copyright Issues ©

By Hope Rachel Hetico RN MHA

[Managing Editor]

Professor Hope HeticoAccording to the, a copyright is a body of legal rights that protect creative works – like those seen on this ME-P – from being reproduced, performed, or disseminated without permission. The owner as the exclusive right to reproduce a protected work; to prepare derivative works that only slightly change the protected work; to sell or lend copies of the protected work to the public; to perform protected works in public for profit; and to display copyrighted works publicly.

Terms of Art

The term ME-P “work” refers to any original creation of authorship produced in a tangible medium. Works that can be copyrighted include medical practice brochures and marketing pieces; medical photographs, healthcare drawings and diagrams; practice advertisements, websites, blogs, wikis, web-casts and pod-casts; and radio and television practice advertisement, etc.

Copyright does not protect the idea or concept; it only protects the way in that an author has expressed an idea or concept. If, for example, a doctor publishes an article explaining a new process for making a medicine, the copyright prevents others from substantially copying the article, but it does not prevent anyone from using the process described to prepare the medicine. In order to protect the process, the doctor must “fix” the work and obtain a patent. For works created after January 1, 1978, copyright becomes the property of the author the moment the work is created and lasts for the author’s life plus 50 years. When a work is created by an employee in the normal course of a physician’s job however, as with an HMO or employed physician, the copyright becomes the property of the employer and lasts for 75 years from publication or 100 years from creation, whichever is shorter.  The 1978 act extends the term of copyrights existing on January 1, 1978, so that they last for about 75 years from publication.

Although copyright becomes effective when fixed on creation, it may be lost unless a prescribed copyright notice is placed on all publicly distributed copies. This notice consists either of the word Copyright, or the symbol ©, accompanied by the name of the owner and the year of first publication (© John Doe MD, 2011, all rights reserved, USA). The use of the notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from or registration with the Copyright Office. But, a work is not fully protected until a copyright claim has been registered with the Copyright Office in Washington, DC. To register, the author must fill out the application, pay a fee, and send two complete copies of the work which is placed in the Library of Congress. The sooner the claim to copyright is registered, the more remedies the author may have in litigation, if challenged. And, an author who types a story on a computer keyboard and stores it on a tape, disc drive, thumb-drive, virtual memory mechanism or cloud grid, has “fixed” the work sufficient for copyright protection [United States Patent and Trademark Office


Infringement is any violation of the rights above that produce an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work. Infringement does not necessarily constitute word-for-word reproduction; “substantial similarity” may also be infringement. Generally, copyright infringements are dealt with in civil lawsuits in federal court. If infringement is proved, the court may order an injunction against future infringement; the destruction of infringing copies; reimbursement for financial loss; transfer of profits; and payment of fixed damages for each work infringed, as well as court costs and attorney’s fees.

Fair Use

Fair Use permits the reproduction of small amounts of copyrighted material when the copying will have little effect on the value of the original work. Examples of fair use includes the quotation of excerpts from a book or medical journal; quotations of short passages in a scholarly books to illustrate or clarify the author’s observations; use in a parody; summary of a speech testimonial or article; and reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson. Because works produced and published by the US government cannot be copyrighted, material from the many publications of the US Government Printing Office may be reproduced without fear of infringement [United States Patent and Trademark Office





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