Diluted Thinking

in Australian healthcare

AVSN: Copyright Infringement

On 1 September 2010, the Sydney Morning Herald published a story Copyright breaches land group in trouble, which outlined copyright infringements by the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network (AVSN).

The story referred to a number of Information Packs (info packs) which were available for sale on the AVSN website:

All of the individual listings of the info packs were removed from the AVSN online shop just prior to this newspaper article being published. The AVSN has been selling these info packs from at least 1999. The AVSN website continued advertising info packs being available for its silver and gold professional members.

According to the AVSN's financial statements their income from these sales was $4,457.61 in 2007 and $5,116.22 in 2008. I am unable to source sales figures for other years.

One copyright holder, MIMS Australia, had previously ordered the AVSN to remove its copyright material from the AVSN website, which the AVSN was providing free of charge. The AVSN complied with this order but continued to sell the same MIMS Australia copyright material in their info packs.

The number of copyright holders whose work the AVSN had stolen is significant, and includes major international publishers such as News Limited, The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, the BBC, Gary Larson cartoons, and many, many others.

To make matters worse, Meryl Dorey was fully aware that she was profiting from copyright infringement. In the Sydney Morning Herald article Meryl Dorey pleads ignorance.

Meryl Dorey was not ignorant about copyright matters, as her following email to an AVSN forum demonstrates:


I have been trying to work out how to share the information the AVN has collected over the years that we have been scanning for the last little while (only scanned about 10% of our info - this is a BIG job!) and I have started putting them into Evernote and have hopefully set up a shared folder so that everyone can access this. Please give it a go and see what you think. This is all indexed by word (though some of the older articles are a bit unclear so the indexing may not have worked too well for them) so a search should bring up anything you are looking for and I am updating this every single day (when I have 10 minutes spare, this is what I do - I know - get a life! LOL) so keep checking back.

Please let me know how it works for you and I hope this will be a really good resource for any parent who is looking to make an informed decision or for the healthcare practitioners who want to add to their libraries.
All the best,

PS - I have not included the medical journal articles because of fear of copyright problems but we have thousands and thousands of articles. If anyone knows of a way to share this that won't step on any toes, please let me know. i have been given the name of an attorney in the US who I plan on contacting when I have 2 seconds free - but if anyone has the answer off the top of their heads, I would really appreciate that.

A committee member of the AVSN at the time was Melissa Begg, a lawyer with Hinterland Legal. It is worth noting that in 2005 Melissa Begg completed a Masters of Law Degree with Honours specialising in intellectual property and digital technology law. All committee members are responsible for the running of the AVSN and it's highly unlikely that Melissa Begg was not aware that for over 10 years the AVSN had been profiting from copyright infringement.

As of November 2012, the AVSN is still offering information packs to its Silver and Gold Professional Members:

image of avn website offering info
packs for sale to silver professional members image of AVSN website showing that Info Packs are still being sold to Professional Members