Copyright Infringement and Me
Nov. 3rd, 2010 @ 11:14 pm
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.|
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!
Please, please, please, please, please sue them for every single penny
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)|| |
how to get some action
I can help you with this. If you go to my blog "The Writer and the White Cat"
You'll see how I handled it. The IC3 (FBI parnership with the Center for White Collar Crime) takes a dim view of this and will refer it to the Attorney General of the State that idiot resides in. Then sit back and wait for the apologies. Also, if you'll send me your email address (mine is firstname.lastname@example.org), I'll send you a copy of the cease and desist lawyer my sent to David Boyer the plagiarist who stole one of my stories. Anything else I can do to help, just let me know.
good gawd, i love watching the interwebz explode in the face of someone who so sorely deserves it! smell that people? THAT is the delicious smell of humble pie cooking. finally! a recipe they DIDN'T have to steal :)
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)|| |
I have no words for the outrage and blatant violation I feel on your behalf right now.
My suggestion, however, after reading their Facebook page would be to sit back and say nothing more and let the Internet take care of the problem. If you get involved it will seem you incited something and you don't need that kind of accusation.
Obviously these idiots are more likely to lash out than admit wrong so don't give them a target.
Best wishes and thanks for bringing this kind of stupidity that exists among us to light!
I am eating Schadenfreude Pie right now and it is delicious: Wil Wheaton has just started making fun of Cook's List right now on Twitter, which means that the Twitfecta of Wheaton, Scalzi and Gaiman is complete.
Mess not with the affairs of the internet, for we are belligerent, numerous, quick to anger, and will fucking cut you.
Went to their site, found their email, looked up the relevant bits of the United States Code online, got distracted for a couple hours, came back, saw people saying their site was down, was glad I'd grabbed their gmail.com address instead of their cookssource.com address, emailed them exactly what the law says on the matter.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)|| |
Hmm, you'll have to hire someone, or clone yourself, so that all these comments can be read, as it's fast approaching the comment event horizon. (Apparently LJ are having to do work on the server you're hosted on because of the sudden workload increase XoD )
Judith Griggs is now the internet equivalent of the woman who was caught on camera shutting a live cat in a wheelie-bin (UK news story/public furore from a few months back). Quite seriously, I wonder if she (Griggs) was under some personal pressure or ill when she committed internet suicide? Because it is simply SO
stupid, it defies rationality, and one should not mock the afflicted. I can only hope she IS
simply an arsehole due the panning she so richly deserves and not simply vulnerable at present or the metaphorical could become the actual.
The thing I don't understand about this woman (Griggs I mean)?
She's been doing it for a while. And with much bigger fish-like Martha Stewart, Paula Deen and Disney.
Disney for pete's sake. Does she not know what Disney does to people that steal copywright stuff from them? They bring the Ten Ton Mouse Hammer
down on them. Good lord, she will be lucky if she has a pot to piss in when they get done with her. (And yes, her stupidity has been reported to them-by multiple sources)
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)|| |
An apology? Srsly?
I'm surprised she didn't ask you to kiss her ass while she was at it. Oh wait, I guess it was implied.
Some people can be forgiven for stupidity but this, doubled with rude and unprofessional behavior requires stronger measures.
I'll be retweeting too. Good luck with the fight! :)
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)|| |
I am so sorry that you are going through this! I hope you are able to get this straightened out and that magazines will FINALLY Realize that stealing is stealing, no matter how big or small the victim may be.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)|| |
If you are serious about taking action
Section 504 deal with remedies for infringement of copyright.
If you are serious talk to a lawyer. Any reputable lawyer will give free consultation.
Also check with local law schools, sometimes they have free clinics to help people in need legal advice.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)|| |
Judith Griggs= Cooks Source
Many comments, here and elsewhere, have speculated on what Ms. Grigg's "employers" or "publishers" will do or say. My guess is that Cooks Source is a one person show.
Why? It's a free, giveaway publication, probably found in racks in the front lobbies of restaurants and food businesses. Its website is made with a free template, provided by and hosted by Intuit, the small business accounting software firm. It has no list of contacts or staff. Its email is a gmail address. Its listed physical address is an PO Box. Apparently, Ms. Griggs tried to sell the business in the late 90s, planning to open a bed-and-breakfast (source forgotten- saw it elsewhere online earlier today).
None of these facts are intended to disparage- a home-based business selling advertising to local food businesses is perfectly honorable, but Gourmet Magazine it is not.
I'm wondering why the entire exchange isn't posted or linked. If not, why?
I do think the editor is entire wrong for not compensating you and her attitude sucks.
John Scalzi wrote about this on his blog, the Whatever, including the link that brought me here. I think it's safe to say that you may be getting a few people coming here from there.
As I am sure more than a few people have already said, what the hell is this guy thinking? I could read this entry to any college-level Intro To Journalism course, and I would be willing to bet that all of the students would probably be wondering how he could have managed to acquire 30 years of experience in publishing without knowing that this was wrong.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC)|| |
As the Managing Editor of an online women's health website, I deal with these issues all the time. About 75% of the people we give DMCA notices to for stealing our content without permission are surprised and shocked and take it down immediately. The remaining 25% know darn well that they were violating the law (some of them have even put their name and picture on the page in place of our authors'). But most of them, even, will take the page down once nabbed. A very small number argue with us, but back down when we mention legal proceedings. So I'm really flabbergasted at this woman's reply. She was totally out of line in responding to you that way. "My bad", MY ASS. If she is as experienced as she says she is, she knew damn well that she was in violation of copyright laws by not getting your permission before posting--she was just relying on you not finding it. ANYONE working in an online environment understands--or should--that work published on the web isn't public domain. Even if you're unaware of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (and I can see how online newbies might be--I was, when I started at my current job), a person who works in any sort of publishing understands that if you didn't create it, you can't claim to own it (unless it's older than 100 years, and even then, you darn well better double check...). And I'm sorry, but copyediting someone's work doesn't make up for the sin of stealing it--and she darn well should know THAT, too.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)|| |
I've been in your position (chasing down copyright violations for a women's health magazine) and I agree completely on the breakdown. Most will apologize. Some will grump but still take the stuff down. For the rest? We would go to the ISP or whoever was hosting and deal with it there. In one case of bandwidth theft, we replaced the image with an ugly lime green and lurid orange sign which ended up tiled across the background of a forum....
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)|| |
As an editor myself, I cannot believe the audacity of that guy! He clearly does not know what he's talking about. Not only is it morally wrong, but it's illegal to do what he did. He should have been thrilled and relieved that you asked for so little compensation. I say you go get a lawyer and go for the maximum damages you can be awarded in small claims court. That is simply ridiculous.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)|| |
Shut down their site
Under most users domain & ISP agreements they are already in direct violation. Plenty of them will shut down the site until a user removes that info if you call them (or better yet you're lawyer if you have talked with them yet) and prove that it is your's. This shouldn't be to hard to do seeing your name is on it.
Re: Shut down their site
This may already have happened: cookssource.com is currently unavailable.
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!
IS SHE AN ACTUAL PERSON?! Nevermind the astounding unprofessionalism of the rest of the email.
I wonder if she got fired from all those previous jobs.
I would suggest contacting some of the writer's unions--the National Writer's Union might be a good possibility:http://www.nwu.org/
SPJ might be another one:http://www.spj.org/
Even if you are not a professional journalist, attitudes like that out there by real editors, even of small crap publications, are something journalists have serious reason to be concerned about?
Small claims court is another possibility if you really want to pursue it as a matter of principle. If so, I'd included a claim for your travel expenses if you have to sue in her location. I can't imagine any judge not deciding in your favor.
But it looks like the media/internet may have taken care of things already, at least morally.
Good luck, and let us know how it goes now that you have the world's support.
Also, I think you should make Nick a pie. :)
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)|| |
NYTimes reporter inquiry
Can you contact me for an short interview? tanzina at nytimes dot com
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: NYTimes reporter inquiry
dang! this is #1 trending on twitter too!
Holy buhjeezuz, you got a lot of comments, but I'mm'a comment anyway and say what's probably already been said: SUE THE BASTARDS!!! Seriously. It's blatant copyright infringement, and that email is sooooooo incriminating! You should also talk to D about this. He knows a thing or two about copyright law. :-D
BTW, this is Alix. I live in your neck of the woods again. We should hang or something. :-P
Ummmmmm....on reading more, I take it back. This is WAY awesomer than a law suit! :-D
Good luck! I hope you keep us updated.
And I'll have to try some of the recipes. :)
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)|| |
So, in her response, she implied your blog post was poorly written. And yet she apparently liked it enough to boost it. Cognitive dissonance, perhaps?