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 4th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    Sorry to post anonymously but I don't have a LiveJournal account.

    I've lost count of the number of places I've seen this story mentioned today: I've blogged about it, too, and I hope Ms Grigg soon sees the error of her ways.

    Jane Smith

    http://howpublishingreallyworks.com/?p=3450
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    From:pabsungenis
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    Four things you need to do immediately:

    (1) Go register your copyright on the article officially. Now. Don't come back and read the rest of this until you do.
    (2) DMCA them. Force them to take the article off the website immediately. Google for sample takedown letters.
    (3) Find a print copy of the magazine as fast as you can to make sure your article was printed in there as well.
    (4) If your article was in the print magazine, or they refuse your DMCA, sue their asses.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)

    Best advice on here

    (Link)
    This is the best advice on here. Register your article at the Copyright Office asap. If you're lucky (depending on timing) you might be able to threaten a suit for statutory, rather than merely actual, damages. Unbelievable response!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)

    The Nerve

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    So they stole your work, AND insulted it? If it was so poorly written they needed to heavily edit it, why'd they want it in the first place, hmmm? AND they told you they'd done you a favor. Wow. The editor is a stone cold jerk, and I say set phasers on obliterate and BLAST HIM.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
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    When I worked at Kinko's I had a guy who was a lawyer try and tell me that copyright didn't pertain to him. Still didn't make his copies.

    Take them to small claims court. No lawyer needed. You can even add in the money it costs to sue in small claims.
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:27 pm (UTC)

    copyright law? we don't need no stinking copyright law!

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    User zombieflowers referenced to your post from copyright law? we don't need no stinking copyright law! saying: [...] and you should be happy we just didn't 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it! [...]
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)

    Why not Recipricate?

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    Seems there are enough writer types here in this tread. Why not 'edit' Cooks Source, under a new domain and enhance the quality of the magazine to a broader and more aware readership?

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    From:paradigmshifty
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)

    Re: Why not Recipricate?

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    Because two wrongs don't make a right.

    Doing as you suggest makes anyone involved no better than the editor in question, and arguably worse, because it's being done in full knowledge of the illegality and lack of ethics inherent.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)

    Band Together _then_ Legal Counsel Up

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    Do we think this is the only time Cook's Source has done this? If this manner of "generating content" is common practice for them, sure 1 writer grouching about one article may not be worth a lawyers ability, but a multi-party (class action?) suit could break this publication. There are plenty of professional food publications out there, so no one's really going to miss a criminal outfit.
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)

    No title

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    User yumemisama referenced to your post from No title saying: [...] an entitled editor, and an apparent complete lack of understanding of what plagiarism really is. [...]
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    From:cochese
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
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    Other people have expressed their outrage quite well. If you start a legal fund, I will donate to it.
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    From:costumegoddess_
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
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    I'm posting this to our Baronial Twitter (http://twitter.com/bfskc) to get the word out more. Let me know if there's any other information or followup you'd like my to add to this (tamarbatavraham at gmail dot com or http://twitter.com/tamarbatavraham or the Baronial Twitter account.)

    -Tamar

    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)

    Facebook "Report this Photo"?

    (Link)
    How about using the Facebook "Report this Photo" option on the pages containing the article? It's got a nice check box for being your intellectual property right there.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)

    Re: Facebook "Report this Photo"?

    (Link)
    Very good idea - make a clear trail to establish your ownership.
    (Replies frozen) (Parent) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)

    We're Gonna Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse, Kid

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    He says he's been an editor for thirty years? For what, the Mafia trade magazine?

    He should sleep with the fishes.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)

    Re: We're Gonna Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse, Kid

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    Sleeping with fish? Now that's just perverse... ;-p
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    From:yumemisama
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    Here from Twitter. Stayed to comment out of sympathy...

    ...but frankly, reTweeted, updated to Facebook, and linked to from my own journal, because the editor is an ass and needs a serious wake-up call. I have a degree in sociology, if that makes you feel better; consider it an attempt at peer pressure, applied by a professional.

    Best of luck fixing this. You have a pretty cut-and-dried case, and the compensation you requested was reasonable, so lawyering up should get it settled pretty quickly.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:ext_309328
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)

    Shame them with google

    (Link)
    I saw this on Twitter. How very frustrating.

    A good thing to do is to make sure this post comes up on the first page when people google the name "Cooks Source Magazine".

    To do this I recommend that you edit the title of the post to include the name "Cooks Source Magazine" (or perhaps "Crooks Source" aha ha) You could change it to "Copyright Infringement and Me - Cooks Source Magazine are content thieves" So it is really clear, even just from the google results page, what the post is about.

    Also try and fit it into the body of the post a couple more times. I'll help by reiterating the search phrase "Cooks Source Magazine".
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
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    From:skyglider
    Date:November 5th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)

    Re: Shame them with google

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    The news coming from this story, along with all the blogs and other sites covering this plagiarism is already pushing the magazine's official website way down the list when you Google them.
    (Replies frozen) (Parent) (Thread)
    From:ext_309336
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    What a copyright infringement! What a poor argument they are putting across! What a complete ignorant response from an Editor (who doesn't even deserve a capital E)who is not trying to justify their actions. Blaming the situation on tired eyes? Let me think how well that excuse would go down at my university. Little to none! As a student I feel more professional than this silly, self righteous, ignorant, snooty and quite possibly naive Editor-in-Chief. No-ones care about your previous job history. We care about your ridiculously profound excuse. And she/her calls themselves a journalist! Rubbish!
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    From:senshikittie
    Date:November 4th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
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    You just became my WTF link of the day. I feel so much outrage on your behalf and I hope this is resolved to your benefit.

    The thought of someone stealing someone else's words is just rage inducing, I can't even elaborate further without dissolving into curses.
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    From:farmanor.blogspot.com
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)

    Ridiculous

    (Link)
    This kind of thing is exactly why I use the Creative Commons non-commercial license for posting photos and the like. An editor with a bare scrap of professional courtesy, which this Judith Griggs obviously lacks, would have contacted you before publication. An editor with the merest shred of sense (see above) would have run the apologies no questions asked, informed you of their standard pay scale, and offered to donate that much to your J-school.

    It would be amusing if some pranksters were to grab an issue of Cooks Source Magazine, make zillions of copies, and spread them far and wide for free — just to see the contortions Ms. Griggs would go through to convince someone that this is different.
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    From:jettakd
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
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    Echoing the small claims court. This is ridiculous!
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    From:farklebarkle
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
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    Saw this on nihilistic kid's LJ. How utterly ridiculous and wrong. You should copy her entire magazine (and "edit" it horribly) and post it somewhere.

    (And yes, plagiarism DOES happen in the workplace -- I can't tell you how many people here think you can just steal other people's content and repost it! -- but it's still not right. Or legal.)
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:ext_309347
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)

    International

    (Link)
    As others have said, you have every right to purse a copyright infringement case. But I don't think anyone has mentioned that, based on the word choice and diction in his or her email, the editor is almost certainly outside the U.S. I don't know if that will complicate things significantly. I hope not. You're clearly in the right here.
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    From:zanzjan
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)

    Re: International

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    She's not, she's here in Massachusetts.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC)

    Re: Wow

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    Came here via Scalzi. I've been an editor for a paying online market for 5 years and I've never heard of such a thing. And the fact that they rewrote it and think you should compensate them... I'm blown away. I'm glad you came out with this story. May you get mucho publicity and huge writing deals from this fool's response... :)

    Betsy Dornbusch
    Electric Spec
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    From:stufff
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
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    Get a lawyer and sue. I'm a lawyer (not in your state, so can't help, otherwise I would gladly write them a threatening letter on your behalf), and I'll tell you this, the web is obviously not "public domain." You had a copyright on your work once you published it on the web, and he directly violated it. You can get more than $130 out of him.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)

    happened to me!

    (Link)
    In a way, she's right. I had an entire article lifted, reposted, and my name was no longer on it. The worse part? The people who did it did NOT have any contact info or any place for me to leave a comment. Figures. Now I have updated my terms and conditions and I have a note at the bottom of website. I am covered if it happens again. :) Also, the URL IS FREE, the article is indeed yours. According to copyright laws, what they did is wrong.
    How nice of her to point out the editing. Yeah, that'll help! :P
    Just know you're not alone. :) http://www.specialneedshomeschool.com/
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    From:skybound2
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
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    This is just atrocious behavior. Someone needs to give that editor a crash course on what constitutes 'public domain', the usage of 'Olde English', and appropriate email response behavior. That email seriously makes her sound about 12 years old. The magazine should be appalled to have her on the staff.
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    From:barbarienne
    Date:November 4th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    (Here via Scalzi's writeup of the issue.)

    Wow. I'm pretty sure my entire reaction to that response would have been "Go F yourself" and a filing in court. People that stupid about the law need to be kicked in the head by actual lawyers.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
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