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Logo of mlabJournal informationSubscribeSubmissions on the Publisher web siteCurrent issue of BMLA in PMCAlso see JMLA journal in PMC
Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1996 April; 84(2): 229–236.
PMCID: PMC299412

Intellectual property and networked health information: issues and principles.


Information networks offer enormous potential for improving the delivery of health care services, facilitating health-related decision-making, and contributing to better health. In addition, advanced information technologies offer important opportunities for new markets, targeted information products and services, greater accessibility, lower costs and prices, and more rapid and efficient distribution. Realizing the full potential of those information resources requires the resolution of significant intellectual property issues, some of which may be affected by special features of health information. For example, the government is a significant funder and originator of health-related information. In addition, much of that information is of great importance to the population and benefits not only individual users, but also employers, insurance companies, the government, and society as a whole. The government must therefore continue to provide particularly important health information to the public, and facilitate that information's accessibility and reliability, while avoiding unnecessary competition with private information providers. Congress and courts must modify or interpret current copyright law as necessary to guarantee that it does not interfere with innovation in tailored health information or exceed its constitutional boundaries and restrict access to information, as opposed to expression. Both producers and users of information must work with the government to educate the public about the availability of health information and the rights of and limitations upon users under copyright law.

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