[UPDATED] Another Question about ‘Clinical Reader’ …and the NEJM

[UPDATE: 11/12/2009]

Got a call from Tom Richardson at the NEJM (who I saw play with the Bearded Pigs at MLA 2008!).

According to Tom, NEJM has no arrangement with Clinical Reader and did not license their content to Clinical Reader. So it appears that Clinical Reader is again violating copyright.


So, Clinical Reader shows video content from the NEJM, including a video on chest tube insertion (yeah, the same one I blogged about a ways back).

I thought this was odd.

After all, if you go to the NEJM’s home for this video, it clearly says one needs a subscription to view the content.


So I decided to look around for any notes from either organization that would indicate Clinical Reader is using this video content with permission. Didn’t find it. Also didn’t find any published terms under which NEJM offered to license it.

My curiosity piqued, I decided to poke around more to see if anyone else was showing NEJMs content. Sure enough, somebody with a subscription to NEJM downloaded a decent copy and posted it on Vimeo:

It has been viewed there over 1,600 times.

Note to Vimeo: This violates terms of service. The user who uploaded it did not own it (as should be fairly obvious by the title cards). As much as I enjoy free access to high quality video, this belongs to NEJM, not this user. The video should at least be taken down from your servers.

Anyway, Vimeo allows users to download videos in .flv format. I downloaded that .flv with no problem…so now Vimeo is serving as a distribution channel for others who would like unlicensed copies. I wonder if perhaps that is how Clinical Reader got a copy to show from their site.

I’d be interested to hear from the NEJM and Clinical Reader: Was this content licensed to Clinical Reader? If so, why is the video quality so much poorer than in the original at the NEJM’s site OR the Vimeo copy?

If not, why isn’t the NEJM interested that their content is being stolen?

I mean…if I didn’t sweat pesky things like copyright, I think I could build an AMAZING portal for health information…made of other people’s content.

Clinical Reader’s FAQ says:

Clinical Reader respects all copyrights and legal restrictions on content and access. Clinical Reader cannot give a user access to articles to which the user does not already have access to copyright-restricted content. For example, if a user does not have access to a research article in the BMJ (either through an individual subscription or through the user´s institution), Clinical Reader will not be able to show the item in full.

Huh. I don’t have access to NEJM from here at home. But I can still view its content in Clinical Reader.

Veoh is showing this video, too.

and medicalvideos.us

…and there’s a RapidShare link on this blog.

5 thoughts on “[UPDATED] Another Question about ‘Clinical Reader’ …and the NEJM

  1. Disappointed with this post, this has ‘you’ve been naughty, I’m telling teacher’ written all over it! Maybe CR did breach copyright, but is it your place to broadcast this fact? Copyright is a pain, I think people who breach it do so at their risk. I imagine they (CR) didn’t expect people to report this fact so publicly. Still, best put the content back behind the wall where no-one can view it.

  2. MG-

    Let me stop chuckling long enough to type this. You’re saying that it isn’t my place to point out that Clinical Reader AGAIN appears to be stealing content? Okay. You’re entitled to that view.

    But considering the absurd threats Clinical Reader made the last time someone busted them for stolen and/or misleading content, they made legal threats against a medical librarian. Hence, do not be surprised if we take an interest in seeing if Clinical Reader continues to steal or threaten.

    You say “copyright is a pain.” I agree. I work in a library, remember.

    “I think people who breach it do so at their risk.”

    Yeah. Risk of getting caught. Like this.

    “I imagine they (CR) didn’t expect people to report this fact so publicly.”

    I didn’t expect Clinical Reader to make public legal threats against my colleague either…but that’s beside the point.

    You seem to be saying the content theft is okay because CR never expected anyone to NOTICE. Nuh-uh. Doesn’t work that way.

    “Still, best put the content back behind the wall where no-one can view it.”

    Actually, it is viewable to anyone the NEJM choses to make it visible to. Quite a significant number view it, either through their own subscriptions or subscriptions held by a library they use. I’d love it if NEJM made this content free to the public, but the fact that they don’t isn’t an excuse for stealing it.



  3. Dear David,

    Hi there, the videos in question have all been removed.

    We have a highly intelligent search algorithm that searches and clusters clinical videos (this is based on youtube technology). Clinical Reader is also in itself automated, puling in and categorizing the latest feeds as you are probably aware. As you can imagine YouTube contains many copyrighted and non-copyrighted videos (uploaded beyond their control, you also mentioned the videos can also be found on Vimeo and Medicalvideos.us.

    We’re currently in the process of being taken over by a large publisher who intends to integrate our technology into their own systems.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention and we all continue to enjoy reading your posts.



  4. Hi Rashada-

    Thanks for the comment. Interesting, though: There was a section…a tab for NEJM video on Clinical Reader. You’re claiming that this was AUTOMATED? Really?

    Also, you seem to be saying that because others similarly violate copyright, it is no big deal that Clinical Reader does. I categorically reject this argument.

    Thanks again for the comment and kudos for taking down the copyrighted videos.


  5. Personally I think any medical site that will knowingly distribute or post copyrighted material or unlicensed material seriously calls into question their professionalism as well as the accuracy of their distributed content.
    Aside from the obvious copyright legal issues…
    We all know NEJM is a respected source (that is probably one of the main reasons that content was taken) but what about other less reputable sources? What about updates to the reputable information that is posted elsewhere (without copyright or license permission)?
    Clinical Reader is not practicing good business practices nor is it promoting responsible medicine.

    Thanks David for alerting us to this. It will be interesting to hear what happens in the future. I do hope Tom gives us an update on how this is handled. This isn’t Clinical Reader’s first gaffe and clearly they don’t seem to be learning from their mistakes.