Original or a copy?

My wife is in the midst of studying for the nursing boards, the NCLEX exam. To help prepare we ordered some flashcards. One question in the set asks the student to describe the structure and function of the kidney. The answer it suggests is in part "The kidney is composed of several years and is covered with a fibrous capsule, the renal capsule." So it is pretty likely that the kidney is composed more of layers than years but what's a little spell-check error between friends.

What is interesting is the answer on the flash card (which is printed with the copyright "Morrison Media" is verbatim the description of the kidney from Jim Swan's webanatomy.net.

In fact the sample flash card on the ECG bears a strong resemblance to this page. In this case, however, there is a modicum of re-writing going on.

I guess one question now is did this 'author' copy the right stuff to help one pass the NCLEX?



Copyright and Facts

The problem here is that facts are not copyrightable. You can sometimes copyright a collection of facts if creativity went into ordering them, such as top ten lists, but a simple definition is not always protected by the law.

It is hard to tell with this case whether any legal lines have been crossed, but it seems like a good case could be made either way and, with that in mind, any kind of action against it is unlikely. Besides, the legal costs would likely outstrip any damages.

Strange, yes, unethical, perhaps, but not likely to really bring about any kind of trouble.

Usefulness of the information

Agreed. What it calls more into question than a litigation (though the plagiarism is clear else the errors would not have been copied verbatim) is the veracity and usefulness of the "study aide". If one were researching what should be studied and putting something together it may be useful. On the other hand a broad copy and paste from websites about general information that may or may not be related to the NCLEX-RN exam may not be much use at all.

Also since the author's plagiarism seems to be a little bit from so many varied sources as you say it is quite unlikely to be worth the cost of litigation.