The next time you stagger into the hospital with a broken arm or internal hemorrhaging, take an extra minute to read through the paperwork you have to sign before you get treatment. If your not careful, you might be signing away your right to complain about your doctor online:
Medical Justice was founded in 2002, and today has about 3,000 members, located in various states and representing different medical specialties, who pay an average of $1,200 a year. The company sells membership as a batch of services, mainly centered around helping doctors that are facing medical malpractice litigation. But the Medical Justice benefit that has drawn the most scrutiny is its program of fighting "physician internet libel and web defamation." The system works by getting patients to sign contracts that assign away the copyright in any future review they might of a doctor—to the doctor [Joe Mullin, "Can Doctors Use Copyright Law to Get Rid of Negative Reviews?," PaidContent.org, 2011.04.14].
Tech journalist and consultant Glyn Moody brands this sort of contract a perversion of copyright, the stated purpose of which is to promote learning, not stifle it. Moody worries that doctors who play Medical Justice's misnamed game set a precedent for other vendors of goods and services to make our silence a condition of doing business.
Health care costs enough already; it should not also cost us our First Amendment rights. When you pay the doctor to stitch up that nasty flesh wound, don't let her stitch up your mouth. Check that paperwork, and keep your copyright!