Unauthorized Copies of Medical Texts on Apple Apps Store

I am on vacation this week so I have also been taking a bit of electronic vacation as well with the blog. But I ran across a post earlier this morning and thought….”Wow I have to blog about this!”

The post is on iMedicalApps.com, “Are unauthorized copies of popular medical textbooks being sold in Apple App Store?” While reviewing “Human Anatomy Pro for iPad” by YoDevApps LLC, Tom Lewis noticed striking similarities between the Human Anatomy app and the Gray’s Anatomy for Student App/textbook. Yet, there was no mention of this in the original iTunes description and upon further examination, Tom noted that all the images and words were direct copies of the original text of Gray’s.

Tom emailed (June 10, 2012) YoDevApps LLC for explannation of the “similarities,” and basically Evans Ben (YoDevApps), in a poorly worded and spelled email, told Tom there are similarities to Gray’s as well as other texts because he consulted the text when creating his app.
Yet this is not limited to Human Anatomy Pro and Gray’s. Tom discovered there were several titles that appeared to have a lot in common with well established medical texts. They are:

  • Illustrated Medical Dictionary (Similar to Dorland’s illustrated Medical Dictionary)
  • Principles of Internal Medicine (Similar to Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicine)
  • Clinical Medicine (Similar to Clinical Medicine by Kumar and Clark)
  • Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (Similar to Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology)

On the iMedicalApps site Tom provides screen captures of images from the YoDevApps iTunes page and compares them to the other textbooks.  When making the comparisons, Tom used both printed editions of books (Kumar and Clark) and other ebook editions (Harrison’s via Inkling).  The images are identical.

Obviously as Tom indicates, these apps raise a lot of questions about proper licensing and distribution of copyrighted material.  Since the content appears to be heavily borrowed, it also makes it extremely difficult to trust the developer on content accuracy which is essential for medical apps.

iMedicalApps recently contacted publishers (of the original texts) and Apple regarding situation and will update their article when they have a response from those involved. As of 6/12/2012 Elsevier has responded and is “initiating action”.

Not only is this whole thing interesting from a copyright standpoint, but it reminds us that we must be careful regarding medical apps.  Any developer can throw something up on the App Store and have it look reliable.

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