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 6th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)

    jafabrit

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    oh boy, you can be sure I will be posting about this on my blog under the title copyright hall of shame, it is a disgrace.

    corrine at jafabrit's art
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    From:ext_311602
    Date:November 6th, 2010 01:40 pm (UTC)

    Really? Improved it?

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    Aside from the "correction" of medieval spellings, I noticed that Griggs totally butchered the nice organization of your original article. She uses your paragraph that a discussion of each method and the differences will follow each redaction, yet places the actual discussions immediately after that paragraph before the recipes are even provided. Apparently, she is even confused by what the term "follows" means. Tired eyes and minds are never an excuse when it comes to any final product, certainly not for an editor!
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    From:angelacerrito
    Date:November 6th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
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    Cook Source ... see that pie on your neighbor's window? They made it just for you!!! Reach in there and grab it...if they complain -suggest they pay you (after all the pie tasted so much better with the scoop of ice-cream you added yourself) Wait...I can't believe this guy behind the counter actually wants me to pay fo...r that ice cream?? I thought ice cream was public domain!!!!

    So sorry you are going through this - glad you are bringing it out for everyone to see!
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    From:ext_311703
    Date:November 6th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)

    Judith Griggs - Where'd she go to school?

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    Is it too late for Judith Griggs, editor for thirty years, to request a refund from all the schools who "educated" her?
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 6th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)

    How Canadian!

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    User elfs referenced to your post from How Canadian! saying: [...] If not, here's the short form: LiveJournalist Illadore [...]
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 6th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)

    Copyright Infringement

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    Monica,

    I suggest consulting a lawyer on a "no win, no fee basis". There are plenty out there. In the US copyright law allows for punitive damages if the material has been registered with the copyright authorities. Go get these guys; your respondent who says he/she has been in the business for thirty years obviously hasn't learned much in that time.

    Sorry to be anon, I just picked up this story on CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/web/11/05/cooks.source.plagiarism/index.html?hpt=T2)

    Alan
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 6th, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)

    As a lawyer...

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    I would agree that you should get a lawyer ASAP in your jurisdiction to find out what your remedies are. Just make sure the potential solution is enough to make it worthwhile - your lawyer advise you on that.

    Secondly, I would encourage everyone who typically bashes lawyers to think before bashing again. There are attorneys on both sides of every argument - the right side and the side that screwed up - because there have to be. It's how our justice system works. And attorneys help powerless people who need it, which is what counts.
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    From:illadore
    Date:November 6th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)

    Re: As a lawyer...

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    I promise to quit making lawyer jokes from now on. Unless they are really funny. :)
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    From:Mario Romero
    Date:November 6th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)

    The nerve...

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    It's really annoying and stupid!... and it is also in my facebook wall now
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 6th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
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    I copyright the word "No", so none of you can use it. You all have to do what I say :D
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    From:solid_squid
    Date:November 6th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
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    That would be negative, we do not, and we refuse to do so, will not follow instructions, have no intention of following your instructions, reject your instructions, ignore your instructions and discard your instructions as being totally meaningless and without worth
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    From:ext_312039
    Date:November 6th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)

    IP Attorney should take it on for a %, and the NWU might take it on just out of principle

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    Dude, the NWU took on the first cases of electronic copyright infringement in the 90s and secured for writers the separate payment for electronic rights in 1999. I dare say they would LOVE to take on people believing the Internet is "public domain" and this publishing house is ripe for it. Especially since this editor (w/ her 30 yrs of editing) should know better! See their website (www.NWU.org) and talk to them about pursuing this. Please DO!!! For yourself and for all the rest of us writers out here! :)
    NWU contact numbers:
    The NWU maintains a national office in New York City.
    256 West 38th Street, Suite 703
    New York, NY 10018
    Phone: 212-254-0279
    Fax: 212-254-0673
    For grievance and contract advice, please contact the grievance advisor at Ext. 10 or advice@nwu.org (put GCD in subject line).
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    From:solid_squid
    Date:November 6th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
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    Someone at nihilistic-kid's journal pointed to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000412----000-.html. This seems to suggest (although I could be misreading it) that it's possible to register a copyright and get full protection of pre-registration (statutory damages and lawyer fees) if you register the item within 3 months of publishing or, more importantly in this case, within 1 month of discovering an infringement. It might well be worth contacting a lawyer about this to find out for certain (ianal, so might have that wrong. It does seem to be what's being suggested though). Coupled with the email, it seems like it would be a pretty open and shut case too
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 6th, 2010 10:45 pm (UTC)

    Madder than hell @ 4130!

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    I do hope you contact suitable counsel and may I suggest Jamie at http://www.artlaws.com/ One of the nicest guys you should ever want to talk concerning this matter. I'm sure you are being approached. For all creatives everywhere i do hope you take them to the cleaners. $150,000 would be sufficient. The publishers are not only expecting more for less but taking our "professionals with a pinch of salt and using the web as an all you can eat buffet too.
    Whole magazines are now published for free off the talent of the creatives. It is up to us to lend a hand as a community. Talking with emerging artists about their rights and responsibilities and to hold firm to our never increasing rates.

    DC Photographer
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 6th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)

    Cooks Source Editor Rips Off Writer, Calls All of Web 'Public Domain'

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    User charles53241 referenced to your post from Cooks Source Editor Rips Off Writer, Calls All of Web 'Public Domain' saying: [...] 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it!" (Read the entire insane e-mail here [...]
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 6th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)

    the only defense is ignorance

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    The only defense for copyright infringement is ignorance. Since they attributed it to you, and have since revealed they knew where they got it, take it to an attorney on contingency and nail them to the wall. Go for the maximum in damages, and then contribute it to the school of journalism.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)

    This crazy!

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    It's definitely going to spread like wild-fire...social networking can be death! Good luck! !
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)

    That Plagiarist Needs to be Fired

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    Why haven't I heard anyone calling for (or announcing) the demise of this woman's career? Any journalist in a national publication caught blatantly plagiarizing (and then insulting the original author) would almost certainly lose their job over such stupidity.

    Good for you for sticking up for your writing!

    I look forward to seeing what happens in the days to come.

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    From:ext_312169
    Date:November 7th, 2010 12:32 am (UTC)

    Here's my experience with institutionalised plagiarism

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    I can't believe the rank amateurism and blatant dumbness of the thieves of your work.
    Just yesterday, I recounted a related situation in Don't Follow Your Dream on AOL: http://tinyurl.com/2c6aoal
    So glad you have made this public.
    Harrison Solow
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    From:ilcylic
    Date:November 7th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
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    If one were curious as to how this plays out in court (or, even without court, in the hands of a real publishing company...)

    http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2009/05/17/major-caudill-hits-the-big-time/

    http://munchkinwrangler.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/the-end-of-the-nugent-saga/

    In short, Uncle Ted wrote Marko a check. Which is typically how things go when a dead-tree publication fails so epically in licensing attributable materiel.
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    From:j_brisby
    Date:November 7th, 2010 01:05 am (UTC)
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    I am curious about some of the finer points of Internet and copyright, particularly the question of who holds copyright over the comments on a blog; the commenter, or the blogger?

    I ask, because something similar happened to me...twice, in fact. I made a comment on Roger Ebert's blog; it found its way into his annual Yearbook. My name was included, so I wasn't too bothered by it, but it felt a little weird nonetheless.

    Second time was when I wrote an email to a newspaper columnist asking if she'd be interested in a funny story about what happened to me when I tried to pay a parking ticket. Turns out she was more than interested...her next column was largely MY LETTER, verbatim! Again, I felt a bit ripped off, but didn't feel I had much of a leg to stand on, as my name was cited.

    In hindsight, perhaps I should have raised more fuss.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 08:45 am (UTC)
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    JB, it is a bot of a grey area when it is posts or replies on a blog unless it is explicitly spelt out that they can do what they like with your posts. However, usually on a paper newspaper or magazine you will usually find small print somewhere near by that basically gives them the right to use what you posted in just about any way they like.
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    From:randomstasis
    Date:November 7th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
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    What an awful person, and how richly she deserves the result of her nastiness to you!
    On the bright side-
    I spend a lot of time tryng to convince my students that even if it's on the internet, it's still plagiarism, and until now, I've had trouble getting them to believe it, so...
    Thanks for making a fuss!
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    From:illadore
    Date:November 7th, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
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    Ha!! Hopefully this is a lesson learned for someone.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 05:44 am (UTC)
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    "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?"

    Since you apparently have standards perhaps you should ask VP Joe Biden for further clarification...
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
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    Astonishing blatant copyright infringement - well done for making this story go viral - Can't see Cook's (Crooks more like) Source surviving this and frankly, good riddance to them.
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    From:everwriting.wordpress.com
    Date:November 7th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)

    Plagiarism in Our Time

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    Pompous, arrogant, self-righteous - as well as a plagiarist. An extraordinary woman. What other qualities does Judith Griggs have that we can consider?
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)

    Re: Plagiarism in Our Time

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    So glad you asked! She's also pompous, ill-educated, and doesn't seem to get along with anyone:

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-172508875.html

    http://www.allbusiness.com/environment-natural-resources/land-use-development/12639130-1.html

    (As far as the people who found these links are able to determine, this IS the same Judith Griggs. Sunderland, Mass. has a population of less than 4,000 people, so it seems too improbable that it wouldn't be.)
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)

    A little confused

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    I am not trying to be rude, just a little confused. How was there copyright infringement? I thought she put your name on the article? Isn't that siting the source? Also I was wondering how you copyrighted it, I was curious over specification of use, but I couldn't find it.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 7th, 2010 11:16 pm (UTC)

    Re: A little confused

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    It's copyright infringement because Griggs used Monica's article without permission. Plagiarism is when you use someone else's work without attributing it to them.

    And copyright happens automatically, the moment you create a work.
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    From:cloudwalker_3
    Date:November 8th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
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    I'm really glad that you kicked up a fuss about this. The woman is clearly someone who has her head in the clouds. Theft is wrong plain and simple.
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    From:ext_311390
    Date:November 8th, 2010 10:12 am (UTC)

    you are too kind

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    ¿Head in the clouds? This woman appears to be no more than a common thief. Head in the clouds describes well meaninged absent mindedness, not deliberate malice. It is sad that all too often the talentless live a parasitic life sucking the sap from the talented, or socking it to the talented sap? whatever
    (Replies frozen) (Parent) (Thread)
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