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:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 08:26 am (UTC)
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    Somebody simply never understand copyright.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 08:27 am (UTC)
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    I hope you are suing the hell out of them.
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    From:gummitch
    Date:November 5th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC)
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    Yikes! What a lot of comments!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 08:33 am (UTC)
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    Hello from the UK! I've been the manager of a website for ooh, 5 years (judging by the bags under my eyes!), our writers are young people aged 13-19 and we always drill into them, if you're going to use something you've found on the Internet, you need permission! We have 50 young people writing for us, volunteering their time, and they totally get this. I have posted a link to this on our chat forum, and whereas I'm not a huge fan of "Internet Justice", I think in this case it might actually be totally justifiable.
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    From:ditaykan
    Date:November 5th, 2010 08:56 am (UTC)
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    Wow. If I plagiarized in an academic setting, my ass would be grass and I doubt any reputable university would want me as a student. Has this woman kept her head in the sand for the last 28 years?
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)

    Just return the favor

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    Since the editor in effect gave you their permission to brazenly copy anything he's posted online, you might as well see what you could do in that regard to make him change his opinion.
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    From:pd_singer
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)

    Re: Just return the favor

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    Since everything they've posted has been lifted from others already, don't perpetuate the injustice.
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    From:netlagd
    Date:November 5th, 2010 09:37 am (UTC)

    the media in play

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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 10:11 am (UTC)

    O come on now...

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    I would like to say that the fact they used your stuff is payment enough
    considering all the writers on the internet... And everything might as well be public domain...
    Causing all this stink over someone using your work shows your a concieted writer and lously at editing maybe.... O(*_____*)O
    And in this humongous bowl of written word to imagine you wrote something grand is a lark...
    You gave away your pride to insult and inflate and no body even cares....
    Write and love to write and thank the powers that let you do this and please the readers that dare to bother reading your stuff..
    And you will be the grand writing person that you can be.... o(=_____=)o
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 10:20 am (UTC)

    Re: O come on now...

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    Weak troll is weak - you can do better than this, put some effort in for god's sake!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 10:15 am (UTC)

    got lawyers?

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    Maybe they would respond to a letter on the topic from a lawyer friend, or on a lawyerly letterhead. The whole plagiarism culture seems based on the idea that if you take small pieces from a lot of different people, you don't owe each of them enough for any of them to bother suing. Need to put the fear of lawsuit into them. What if you googled the rest of the magazine and found the people they stole the other articles from, and joined with them to make a demand?
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    From:sushigal007
    Date:November 5th, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
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    Forget hiring a lawyer, you need a PR representative to deal with all the interview requests!

    Good luck. :)
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 5th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)

    The Cooks' Source thing

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    User giandujakiss referenced to your post from The Cooks' Source thing saying: [...] missed it, the above link has a nice summary and round up. Note it all started with this LJ post [...]
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    From:ext_310445
    Date:November 5th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)

    They're broke

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    Obviously they have no cash. Don't believe for a second that they are gonna be around for more than a few more months.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)

    M. Contraband, Esq offers general writer copyright advice

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    Dear Illadore,

    If you take a look at "Writers copyright: Lawyer/artist M. Contraband slaps down the law", this is probably worth a $500 consultancy and may address your initial questions.

    http://www.artdesigncafe.com/Writers-copyright-lawyer-ADP-2-3-2010

    Also you might consider taking a look at the National Writers Union section on copyright at www.nwu.org. We'll be linking into your posting.

    Good luck!

    Cheers,
    R.J.
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    From:writerross
    Date:November 5th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
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    This is the most insane twist of events I have ever heard. Jaw-dropping bat-wielding insane.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)

    Copyright infringement

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    Indeed, your copyright was infringed. All things considered, not a really big deal, as they did reference you. However, the editor's reply is astonishingly unprofessional, weird, and immoral--especially from someone who claims to have a lot of experience (although I have my doubts about an editor who can't spell the name of a rag she claims to have edited--viz, "Housitonic"). Your request for an apology and a donation to CSJ seems altogether reasonable and fair. What should you do? It depend on how much value you put on your time. If it were I, I'd just bad-mouth them at every opportunity and get on with my life.
    --Gary Soucie, formerly editor of Contemporary Surgery and American Angler, executive editor of Audubon, and member of the senior editorial staff at National Geographic.
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    From:illadore
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)

    Re: Copyright infringement

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    National Geographic??!!? Wow! Hello and thank you!
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 5th, 2010 11:50 am (UTC)

    Internet Entitlement: Volume 2

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    User drakyndra referenced to your post from Internet Entitlement: Volume 2 saying: [...] So, who's heard about the latest big online shenanigans? [...]
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 5th, 2010 12:29 pm (UTC)

    Putting Down The Dog

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    User theferrett referenced to your post from Putting Down The Dog saying: [...] a bit of the rope myself. I tweeted (or, rather, re-tweeted) about the Cooks Source controversy [...]
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 12:48 pm (UTC)

    please sue

    (Link)
    please, please sue. It sounds like you should be able to find 30 years of people getting ripped off my this editor - please, please sue them out of business.

    Normally, I would resist a lawsuit with every grain in my body, but I am flat out tired of these existing 'publications' making there way to the web by stealing other work, while slapping a copyright label on their own work.

    It's infuriating, and as a former journalist (by training, not by 30 years of theft). None of the 'publications' listed 'The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine' have an ounce of real journalistic credibility.

    Please put this asshole out of business.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 12:57 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    Go get 'em sister. You are the one who is correct in this matter and they should pay you a large sum for damages.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 12:58 pm (UTC)

    your copyright rights

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    That response from the editor is ridiculous. I think you should seek advice from an attorney specializing in copyright law. Seems to me this editor thinks he or she did you a favor, but stealing someone's work is not a favor it is infringement! Check out Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts: http://www.vlany.org/index.php they provide legal services for people in all forms of the arts.
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    From:ext_310555
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)

    Huff Post used my photo in an article w/out prior permission

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    The Huffington Post used a photo of mine without permission once. I found out from a friend familiar with my blog.

    The difference between this editor and that one is HP asked me for direction on how to correct the error, and I just requested a link back to my site with photo credit. In my case, I couldn't have paid for a link, and I can say my work appears in a major web publication.

    Maybe I should have asked for $130. D'OH!
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    From:syrinx
    Date:November 5th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)

    Re: Huff Post used my photo in an article w/out prior permission

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    Maybe not $130, but you should have asked for something more than a link back to your blog. It sets a bad precedent, especially if a site makes money.
    (Replies frozen) (Parent) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC)

    Writers Weekly?

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    Have you posted a complaint with Writers Weekly? They take a grim view of plagiarism and non-pays. Good luck!
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    From:amusedobserver
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)

    Which Voice?

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    I worked at the Voice and many other well-recognized publications. It had among the most rigorous standards of any place I worked and, among the edit staff, a high degree of concern for writers' rights. The woman at Cooks Source surely could not have worked there more than five minutes or else she certainly didn't absorb the culture. You might want to try contacting some high-profile copyright attorney. He or she may be interested in using this case as an example and may, therefore, take it pro bono. You never know.
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    From:onerebelmom
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:17 pm (UTC)

    Tell the world

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    A fellow writer friend of mine sent me your post and I am outraged on your behalf. Posted your story on my Facebook page to 1000 of my friends to get the word out! You should contact the National Writer's Union for help. They handle this kind of thing a lot and have a staff of lawyers who are ready to jump through hoops to intervene in these kinds of situations. Good luck!
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    From:ext_310570
    Date:November 5th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)

    I mean seriously

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    I dont even know much about you or them and i'm mad as hell...the nerve...makes u wanna do something petty like plagarize their stinky magazine for the next year and sell it for less...bastards...

    Oh and happy friday
    Rae
    Blushblog
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