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 8th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)|| |
But Honestly, Monica (The Song)
Hmmmm, that title kind of sounds like I'm riffing on Space Balls.
At any rate, I just recently started reading about this whole debacle, and on a boring lunch break from work decided to try to whip up a quick song based on the email and initial fb post.
I had fun trying to write it, hope you at the very least find it amusing! :)
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: But Honestly, Monica (The Song)
|Date:||November 8th, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)|| |
Appauled but not surprised
I wont' leave where I'm from where I work, or even log in to any account. I will say I work in education.
Sadly (oh so sadly) this isn't surprising. While training a number of our Law School people in adding/editing content they were utterly astounded when I told them they just couldn't grab images from Google and use them. Later we found that someone from that school had also lifted an article.
The Law School..........
I don't know how to make it clear to people that if you find it online it IS NOT there for the taking. What will it take to stop this?
|Date:||November 8th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)|| |
Want to own your own magazine?
Sounds to me like you could be the proud owner of Cooks Source magazine if you want it . . . find a good lawyer and take them for a ride. This story is appalling to say the least and there no better time than the present to educate someone about the consequences of stealing someone's intellectual property. Good luck! I and all other writers and editors with class, dignity and honor have your back.
|Date:||November 8th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)|| |
While I completely agree with everyone here that the editor is out of line (& that $130 is more than reasonable to ask of her - it's not even like you're asking for them to pay YOU, which they should anyway!) & that she "stole" your work, is it technically plagiarism if she gives you credit for the article? Either way, the magazine shouldn't be able to profit off your work (since, unlike those people that she "freely" edits, you never submitted your work for their consideration)!
|Date:||November 8th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)|| |
I don't think the issue's plagiarism, but copyright infringement.
And they evidently didn't read your article that was ripped off, because they note copyright doesn't protect "basic recipes."
|Date:||November 8th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)|| |
Emails to/from editor
To add balance to the story, would it be too much to ask that you post verbatim the e-mails you sent?
|Date:||November 8th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Emails to/from editor
Oh! That *I* can do. I shall do it later tonight, when I have time.
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)|| |
Lulz cure cancer
You are legend now. I graciously thank you for producing many lulz with your disclosure of this situation and allowing the "interwebs" to attack a very much deserving ( apparently) target with their unrelenting good times :)
Re: Lulz cure cancer
Agree with that, comrade.
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)|| |
This could be the first case that involves a proactively copyrighted web page. I'd try to get a lawyer for that reason alone.
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)|| |
Judith is speaking again
has a statement from "the staff" of the magazine. It seems to be the real thing. It is written very badly. It claims that they made the requested donation, as well as one to a food bank in your name.
Is it true?
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Judith is speaking again
They certainly sound very sorry for themselves, don't they?
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)|| |
The audacity! That's like a rapist saying you ought to thank him for violating you - since the act of coveting your property and corrupting it improved it somehow. You wouldn't thank guy. You'd prosecute. I think you should.
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 04:59 pm (UTC)|| |
Contact the EFF. Ask them to put an attorney on it pro bono.
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)|| |
Link to this page.
I'm blogging about this whole fiasco and would like to include this page as a link. I know it's usually done in this manner without permission, but this is your story, and wanted to let you know. You can contact me if you wish it pulled. Thanks!
I'm only posting as anonymous because I don't have a LJ account and just didn't want to have the FB all access thing. Thanks! - Kerry
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Link to this page.
Oh, no problem! Linking is fine. :) (And legal. :)
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)|| |
Copyright Infringement and Me
Well, for starters, and just for starters, Judith Griggs, whoever she is, may have more than three decades of editing under her belt, but that doesn't excuse the grammatical and syntactical errors she made in her response to you!
A classic case of deflection of blame, distraction away from the point, and good old fashioned unmitigated gall!
A message on legal letterhead may help.
|Date:||November 9th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)|| |
I've had people who have had the nerve to criticize me when I have asked them to stop using my photography work to promote their businesses, as they never asked me in the first place if they could use the images. Good on you for taking a stand on Cooks Source, who should be in the dictionary defined under the word Dodgy.
|Date:||November 10th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)|| |
I read where someone commented that Judith Griggs was the owner of Cooks Source as well as the 'editor.' If that is true it explains a lot - I wrote for a small community paper and the personality of the owner/'editor' was about like Judith's. To her credit, though, she didn't steal work, just hacked it to pieces and then told you she'd made your writing 'better.' Editorial is full of those people.
Great story and what groundbreaking events you unleashed. Good on you. http://www.innovativepassiveincome.com/c
I've been following this story since I saw it posted on facebook. I'm a freelance writer for Associated Content, so we take these things seriously!
|Date:||November 10th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)|| |
Aside from the rage I feel at Cooks Source, I'm also laughing my head off. The person who wrote that semi-literate letter to you was boasting about his/her editing? Please!
|Date:||November 12th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)|| |
How does it feel to have created a meme?
|Date:||November 12th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)|| |
You are a baby
Why not enjoy the fact that your writing may have been read by more people you big baby.
|Date:||November 12th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)|| |
Suuuuuuue them. Sue their pants off, then wear their pants and laugh at their underwear.
|Date:||November 12th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)|| |
Looks like they will get what was coming to them. Her letter back to you was like a slap in the face.
Hi, I was linked here through NaNoWriMo forums. I didn't search through the 800+ comments here already to check, so if you're received a link to this already I apologize:
Writersweekly.com has a Whispers and Warnings section, where you can submit a complaint with a publisher/etc. They investigate the complaint, then publish their results in their ezine. It's helped a lot of people settle out of court.
Good luck, and I'm sorry that you had this happen to you.
|Date:||November 15th, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC)|| |
Maybe it's time for a website or blog called Thieves and Exploiters? In a similar vein to the excellent Preditors & Editors, but with the focus on 'professionals' who pay below minimum rate or who steal other people's work.