Psychiatric reference app pulled after APA warns of IP violation

By: Neil Versel | Jan 10, 2013        

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ShrinksterAn apparently well-received, free psychiatric reference app for the iPhone has been removed from iTunes following the threat of legal action from the American Psychiatric Association, MobiHealthNews has learned.

The creator of Shrinkster, a searchable reference for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision, the mental health bible commonly known as DSM-IV-TR, pulled the app in October after receiving a cease-and-desist order from the APA, according to both the APA and a Shrinkster Twitter account.

“Shrinkster is no longer available in the app store after APA complained. We believe it was a fair use but could not face risk of a lawsuit,” a Nov. 26 tweet said. Shrinkster had received positive reviews from several mental health blogs and app rating sites, including Social Work Tech, but that was irrelevant to the APA.

An APA spokesperson tells MobiHealthNews in an email that DSM is the intellectual property of the professional association and that the organization does not license the content to third parties. The APA only learned about Shrinkster last fall when the developer contacted the group to get unspecified additional material for the app, according to the spokesperson.

At that point, the organization’s permissions office asked the developer, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Gimpel Labs, to take the app down, the spokesperson says, but the company did not until the APA notified Apple of the unauthorized use and then sent the cease-and-desist letter.

A tweet dated Jan. 2 asked followers if they would take part in a “campaign to ask APA to work with us & put it back up.” The APA spokesperson was unaware of any efforts by Gimpel to get back in touch.

MobiHealthNews was unable to reach Gimpel for comment. No Shrinkster or Gimpel Labs website exists nor is there a listed phone number. A Twitter message to the Shrinkster account has not been returned.