Illadore's House o Crack - Copyright Infringement and Me

About Copyright Infringement and Me

Previous Entry Copyright Infringement and Me Nov. 3rd, 2010 @ 11:14 pm Next Entry
The tl;dr version of this post: My 2005 Ice Dragon entry, called "A Tale of Two Tarts" was apparently printed without my knowledge or permission in a magazine and I am apparently the victim of copyright infringement.

The story:
I was contacted early last week by a friend of mine who lives in the Northeast about my "As American as Apple Pie - Isn't!" article that was published in Cooks Source magazine, mostly to inquire how I had gotten published. This was news to me, as I hadn't ever heard of this magazine before.

However, some basic Google-fu lead me to find them online and on Facebook. In fact, after looking at the Cooks Source Facebook page, I found the article with my name on it on on "Page 10" of the Cooks Source Pumpkin fest issue. (No worries, I have screencaps.) The magazine is published on paper (the website says they have between 17,000 and 28,000 readers) as well as being published on Facebook as well.

So. I first phone the magazine then send a quick note to the "Contact Us" information page, asking them what happened and how they got my article. (I thought it could have been some sort of mix-up or that someone posted it to some sort of free article database.) Apparently, it was just copied straight off the Godecookery webpage. As you can see from the page, it is copyrighted and it is also on a Domain name that I own.

After the first couple of emails, the editor of Cooks Source asked me what I wanted -- I responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism.

What I got instead was this (I am just quoting a piece of it here:)

"Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"


I got nothing.
Scratch that. I sure as heck do. Let's go over the major points:

  • At this point, I am mad as hell. It is now the principle of the thing -- and I also can not quite believe that my copyright was violated -- and then I was informed that I should *pay them* for editing it for me!

  • The web is NOT public domain! Don't believe me? Try the University of Maryland University College -- or just Google it.

  • I should be thankful because I wasn't flat out plagiarized? Don't college students get, oh, I dunno, tossed out for being caught for plagiarism? How is this a valid argument?

    I have some ideas of where to go from here but I am more than willing to listen to other suggestions.



    EDIT: Nick does a better job of telling the story than I do: http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1553538.html -- Thanks, Nick!
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    From:horsetuna
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
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    A friend mentioned they've ripped off Martha Stewart and Disney.

    I think all you have to do is email DIsney and let them know... I hear Disney is not one you want to mess with at all. May not have to pay a dime if Disney comes down on them.
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    From:juliet316
    Date:November 4th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
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    Somebody in the sf_drama who works for Disney is already in the process of doing so and Paula Deen has sent her legal team notice. Stick a fork in Cook's Source. They are done.
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    From:alastairmayer
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)

    Copyright remedies.

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    So the editor knows about copyright laws, eh? She may know that they exist, but is apparently woefully unfamiliar with their content.

    http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html has some interesting things to say about copyright infringement and remedies. The minimum statutory penalty is more than 5 times what you were asking, not counting potential criminal charges and liabilities. Given her response and admission of guilt, it could go a lot worse.
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    From:fugu13
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC)
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    I'm sure the advice has already been given in the many pages of comments, but contact a lawyer and sue.
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    From:budmassey
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)
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    As an intellectualy property attorney, I can tell you he obviously knows dick about copyright law. The web is public domain? I was Associate General Counsel for CompuServe. I assure you this is ridiculous.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
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    You should send this on to www.fair.org, to the Poynter Institute at www.poynter.org, to the Project for Excellence in Journalism (www.journalism.org) and the Society of Professional Journalists (www.spj.org). These sites have huge readership amongst industry professionals and faculties teaching Journalism/Mass Communications, and most have dedicated Ethics sections. Maximum exposure and humiliation is fully deserved for anyone who is sufficiently dim to send a self-incriminating, obnoxious email such as the one you received from these people.
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    From:josephusrex
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
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    Oh...my...God.

    I've met people like that. Usually nothing can be done about them, but they deserve to be killed slowly. Usually with implements that rip the meat off their bones and pull them apart joint by joint.
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    From:yasminegalenorn
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
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    I suggest you contact www.copyrightalliance.com about this issue. Piracy is rife on the net, I'm pirated constantly and it pisses me off.

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    From:ddean
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
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    I'm going to love seeing this play out. Good luck!
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    From:pikaporeon
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
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    Lawyer up and use that note as evidence, its a confession, you win.

    ianyl
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    From:bittersweetreid
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
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    Just wanted to post, that I heard of your story on twitter, went to their FB-page to see it flooded with bashing comments and read their advertisers cancelled their contracts. So YAY for the demogratic dimension of the internet and that crap like what happened to you gets answered today in a way that matters. What a wonderful and inspiring example of how web 2.0 empowers ppl to make a difference. Also I found it very modest of you only to ask for a donation to an institution! How selfless. All the best to you and I hope you get rewarded for your work. May your muse be always with you! :D
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC)
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    Actually, scratch my last comment. I think JG is going to have to sell her liver to pay you in court after everyone else she plagarized from gets to her. A very wealthy institution? I believe someone spoke too soon.
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    From:chromachord
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:00 pm (UTC)
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    I got here through a friend's link on Facebook. What. The. HELL. This is horrible. As someone who is a writer and editor for a living, I apologize. This person is giving a bad name to those who actually help writers...

    By all means, go after them! Not only did they take your work, they also had the audacity of offending you via e-mail. Much success to you in this endeavor.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
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    omg just kill him. wht an arrogant, snide, bastard
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    From:rince1wind
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)

    Cooks Source -- Theft

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    I haven't read all the other comments; I'm sure they say much the same thing. Sue them, condemn them publicly,Better Business Bureau them (if possible). Their attitude -- and certainly their letter -- to you is unbelievable outrageous. I hope you are able to get something from them!
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    From:trueasbluesky
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
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    I followed this link from the front page of Reddit (so happy to see that this is getting so much well deserved attention) and my jaw literally dropped at their belief that web content is public domain.. incredible. I hope with all the attention this is getting, you end up being compensated fairly!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)

    question

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    is it true your piece had to be massively rewritten? If so, I totally agree with the editor. Get over it.
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    From:theunshaven
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)

    Re: question

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    *chuckle* I love it when trolls have the courage of their convictions and post anonymously.
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    From:elffin
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
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    I hope you plan ahead and figure out how and where you're going to dispose of "Cooks Source"'s intellectual properties, as I'm sure that at the end of this fiasco, you'll own Cooks Source outright. If there's any justice in this world, Mme. Griggs will also be lighter in many personal assets as well! (To help her reach the pinnacle of Mt. Zion, naturally.)

    My own copyright troll lives in Australia, making it ... difficult .. to seek legal repercussion against him, so I am glad that yours is within your reach. Good Luck!
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    From:ext_309839
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)

    Been there got the tee-shirt

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    It is a shame that unscrupulous people will readily steal web content. That they were audacious enough to leave your name on it is really galling I am sure. The to get the snide response you received was just the topping on the cake. I have written or co-written around 24 technical books and unfortunately seen content stolen not only in the USA but in Russia (an entire book translated into Russian and then put online for free. For India, Pakistan and China the running joke is you only sell one copy each but every book store will carry it....

    Hope you get justice.

    Mike
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    From:macdaill
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)

    Google

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    Found a link to this from the EK list.

    When I just googled "Cook's Source", most of the links are to stories about your plight. The internet is an amazing thing:)

    Good luck in your most honorable quest!
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    From:jauncourt
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
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    www.cookssource.com is down.
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    From:tashabear
    Date:November 5th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
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    It's back up, but all the contact info and data on distribution and advertisers is gone baby gone.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:18 pm (UTC)
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    Next Step: Get lawyer and do what Americans do best --sue the crap out of them. This wouldn't be a frivolous law suit either, it actually merits action and restitution for your losses financially due to said infringement.

    Also, they admitted to you in the letter that it was 'my bad' so run with it and kick them in the financial junk.
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    From:ext_309852
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)

    2nd Street Baking

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    Pulled this from Twitter. So, we already know they're going to be losing a lot of money from this fuck up. Shame on them. I hope she loses her job. RT @2ndStreetBaking: As an advertiser, we are disappointed in Cook's Source and we are pulling our ads from this publication.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)

    Monica needs to file an IC3 complait.

    (Link)
    http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)

    Anti Cooks Source Facebook page

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    Spew forth thy vitriolic wrath:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cook-Source-Magazine-is-run-by-worthless-plagiarists/159204754115064
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    From:blamebrampton
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
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    As an editor, I want to travel to the US and slap that editor. Yes, many articles require work. That is why we have jobs, and are paid salaries or hourly rates. To suggest that because someone can't spell de rigueur (hardly anyone can), they don't get to hold onto their copyright is a nonsense of the highest order. Write back, demand $1 a word for that charity, and the same again for you, because you have every law and moral right on your side. Good luck!
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