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!
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)|| |
Sadly many editors now think that anything they read on the web is theirs for the pinching. I was LET GO as the eidotr in chief of a magazine becasue the publishers,said" We don't need to assign pieces we can just lift formt he web, so we do not need you."
Writing has often turned into an unpaid hobby and everythig we read will suffer because of that. I am emboldened that you stood up and are going forward with this brazen theft of your words.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)|| |
I am so glad that this example of stupid behavior has attracted the attention of the mob! All too many equally outrageous instances escape notice . . . but at least THIS one is being punished!
How much more than $130 do you think they'll have to pay their lawyers?
-- Britton Morgan,
-- aka FreeRoy
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)|| |
I heard about this outrageous situation on the SCA-Laurels list, and I've been watching the developments with awe and glee. Congratulations on standing up for your rights, and doing so in a polite and dignified way. Oh, and it's a great article.
You may be interested to know that your Internet fame now includes Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooks_Source_plagiarism_controversy).
Brighid ni Chiarain
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 01:39 pm (UTC)|| |
unbelievable - keep after them - this is insane
As a writer, I am with you - you were entirely ripped off. Keep after them. Submit to On The Media, the public radio media show. There is no excuse for this.
Copyright interest is created the moment the work is put on paper or other permanent medium. While the Internet has thrown some curve balls in how to interpret traditional copyright laws, posting work on the Internet does NOT make it public domain. if that were the case, all the music posted online would all be free. they are lucky that you did not send a cease and desist letter requesting that they remove all copies of their magazine from circulation with your material -- that would cost a heck of a lot more than what you requested. I would recommend you talk to a lawyer if your interest is a matter of principle (it will probably cost more for the lawyer). You can also contact the U.S. Copyright Office licensing division. They can not give you official legal advice, but the folks there are very helpful and probably can help clarify with your rights are as a copyright owner.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)|| |
What to do when someone lifts your article
First, get yourself a google alert so you can know when your name is mentioned or your work, you get an email saying so, it cuts back on the random element of discovery.
Second, report the editor and her letter and the page and its contents to Preditors and Editors and Writers Beware, two watchdog sites that warn writers of unethical practices in publishing.
Third, go back to the website and look up the submission guidelines for actual written work submitted, so you can have that written work as a primer for what 1) you should have been compensated and 2) explain that you did not submit ergo, you are not under any obligation to pay anyone for work unsought and that editors DO NOT get paid by the contributors for editing, writers DO get paid for writing and editors are paid by their publication FOR editing, ergo, she has some nerve trying to shake down you for violating copy rights. That being said, if you put it on a blog, it's published. If you put it on a website, it's published. Once it is in the public domain, it is like second hand clothing, you might get paid by someone for a reprint, you might not.
--Sherry from Erma Writing group, wouldn't let me use my twitter account.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)|| |
Right on Monica. As a food writer this makes me FURIOUS! I contacted them several times, as they cover our area butpo they never returned my messages. I'm glad now. I'm going to post this on my blog for all to see. What JERKS.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)|| |
Here via the Farkernet as well. The Automated Internet Nerdrage Repeater Machine (AINRM) is swinging into full-on "FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU..." mode as we speak. Anybody posted this to 4chan yet?
Oh God. I kinda fear 4chan... (hi 4chan? plz be nice?)
and from a SCAdian.......
you are in good company. the idiot fcked with the MOUSE!!!!
i hope that you get a ton of publicity, and a serious publishing offer from this.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC)|| |
Can you give us an update of any...interesting... results the internet and media storm has generated? Has the "editor" recanted or communicated in any way?
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 02:16 pm (UTC)|| |
Have copyright attorney write a letter?
If I was in this situation I'd find a good copyright attorney willing to write a certified letter to the editor of Cooks Source, pointing out that they did violate the law and that your demands now are modest compared to what will occur if Cooks doesn't respond (or words to that effect). The idea is to suggest that your claim, if it remains unanswered, would turn into a federal copyright case against Cooks and/or possible litigation that could cost them a lot more than an apology and $130. With luck you might even find someone to do it pro bono, especially if the attorney likes publicity. In Detroit I would start with Feiger Law.
The Cooks Source Fiasco
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 02:17 pm (UTC)|| |
She should be ashamed. I have let other writers know about this. we'll be checking regularly to see if she's lifted any of our copy. I wouldn't want to find out I owe her for her incredible copy editing services.
Thanks for sharing this. Sad to see that these situations still occur. I'm sure she doesn't work for free so why does she expect her writers to?
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)|| |
Try Angela Hoy?
Angela Hoy over at Writers Weekly does a regular "Whispers and Warnings" section where she'll advocate on the side of writers in situations like yours (#8 http://writersweekly.com/). I've seen some pretty satisfying outcomes over the years, you might try her before a lawyer.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)|| |
Small matter in light of everything else, but, I couldn't help but notice that, in the midst of her scold about the piece needing so much editing, this editor with "30 years experience" managed to misspell "offence." Or is she British or something?
Geeze, if this keeps up, we're gonna have to do the "captcha" thing, just to comment! Mind if I friend you so that I can keep up with the madness. Their FB page last night was very entertaining.
When Cooks Source site crashed:
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: When Cooks Source site crashed:
We are Anonymous
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_%28group%29) Be afraid.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)|| |
OMG - You made the Lead Article on MediaBistro today!
OMG please contact me off list - I want to make sure you get a copy of the daily email newsletter form Media Bistro (reference earlier comments from me)
So happy that you are getting the recognition you deserve, even if Cook's Choice isn't doing it!
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)|| |
Do you have a local news affiliate that does any "on your side" reporting? One in our area would investigate something like this & broadcast reports on the air. It's cheaper than a lawsuit & often leaves one feeling vindicated.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)|| |
This whole thing boggles the mind. The Internet is public domain? Seriously? The article was in bad need of editing? How about her response to you.
I'm doing a blog post about plagiarism and I'd love to use this story as an example and quote some of Cooks Source's response, if that's okay (with proper credit and links back here, of course). I can let you see a copy of the post before it goes up if you'd like.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:30 pm (UTC)|| |
Radio Canada Interview
My name is Natasha, I'm a journalist with one Radio Canada's national current affairs shows. We'd like to speak to you about your article being reprinted without your knowledge by Cooks Source.
Can you please call me at 416.205.2649 to arrange a phone interview?
Thanks very much,
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)|| |
Congratulations. You have awoken the Internet. It's a fearsome beast, and will now proceed to devour that asshat editor, skin and bone (no backbone offcourse!) included.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)|| |
Wow, that's the most unprofessional thing I've ever seen from someone. I am agast at that editor's disgusting attitude.