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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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:bev_vincent
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
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    Neil Gaiman just tweeted this to his 1.5 million followers! Expect traffic.
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    From:DebraWeiss
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)

    Suggestion About What To Do...

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    Someone posted to this link on Twitter and followed it over here. First of all, that's awful that it happened to you. It sucks. Here's what you can do: My mom is a freelance writer (Sonya Weiss - you can Google her name). One of her articles was lifted for a blog post (almost word for word!). The woman refused to take it down when my mom contacted her.

    My mom contacted Angela Hoy of Writer's Weekly. She helped my mom out and was successful in convincing the blogger it'd be far better to take it down. So definitely contact Angela Hoy. She's awesome. :)

    Debra Weiss
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    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)

    two things of rage and a palate-cleansing vid with hedges

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    User tsuki_no_bara referenced to your post from two things of rage and a palate-cleansing vid with hedges saying: [...] professionalism and also clearly has no idea what "copyright" and "theft" and "public domain" mean [...]
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:sailor_titan
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
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    Have you posted a http://rising.blackstar.com/how-to-send-a-dmca-takedown-notice.html DMCA Takedown yet?
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)

    Hello

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    I run a website in the UK that gets around 250,000 views a month, and even I know not to lift content off the web unless permission has been obtained. Occasionally there may have been an oversight in which case, it's removed immediately and an unreserved apology made, or some sort of agreement is arrived at.

    You'll be pleased to know that this has made Reddit, frontpage. Their facebook is being hammered at the moment.
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    From:tomwat
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
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    RAEG!
    Sue the bastards from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.
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    From:ext_309480
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)

    Looking at back issues?

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    Someone should look at back issues and see whether there are other plagiarized articles.
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:illadore
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)

    Re: Looking at back issues?

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    Y'all are free to do that if you wish. :)
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:pingback_bot
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)

    beware the wrath of the internet

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    User siriel referenced to your post from beware the wrath of the internet saying: [...] domain and she should be grateful for the publicity. Then the internet frothed with righteous rage! [...]
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    From:ext_290875
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)

    Copyright theft

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    It is shocking that she has the sand to take that position. Everything is free public domain? Unreal.

    Editor
    http://www.coolsprings.com/
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)

    You'll be happy to know that the whole net is on your side

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    I have rarely seen people on the net so unequivocal. Do you want to start a legal fund for putting those jokers out of business? I'm sure many of us would be happy to kick in a buck or two.
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:amergina
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:ratherbe4gotten
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:55 pm (UTC)
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    Here via twitter too. Good luck with fighting this. I know it's probably not your main concern, but by not walking away quietly you're making a stand for everyone who uses the internet as a form of expression. Thank you.

    The editor is clearly an idiot, in more ways than I have the patience to type.

    Edited at 2010-11-04 03:57 pm (UTC)
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)

    Public domain?

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    Obviously when the person said he or she had been an editor for 3 decades, that person meant to say that he or she had been in the business since before the internet and was out-of-touch with the legal system in the age of the internet .
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    From:girleevviill
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
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    Uh, I'm an editor and just.. NO. NO. What the eff is she talking about? I have never lifted someone's work, rewritten it and taken credit because that's PLAGIARIZING. She could have contacted you, told you she liked the piece and wanted to help streamline it for publication. Anything else is just a blatant excuse.
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    From:br0k3nsoul
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
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    Yes. I'm an editor as well and this whole thing just makes me cringe. When someone submits something that needs editing, I often give them some advice on what needs to be revised before they are offered a contract but I do not touch it until I have received written permission to do so.

    And while I have found work online that I like and would like to see published, the first step is contacting the author. There is no editing or layout or design or any action whatsoever until written permission is received. There is simply no way for something to be published without the author's permission because an ethical editor isn't going to move forward with a piece until he or she knows they're allowed to do so.

    I'll be sending a letter to Cooks Source. Whatever happens, I think it's safe to say the court of public opinion is squarely on your side, Monica.
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    From:shaelbopp
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
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    Don't assume a lawyer is overkill. DON'T SETTLE for less than Cooks Source paying the maximum penalty. Talk to a few laywers and find out the legal truth about this case before even talking with Cooks Source again. Don't settle out of court. Destroy this horrible magazine.
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    From:ext_309493
    Date:November 4th, 2010 03:59 pm (UTC)

    Plagiarized Work

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    I hope you find a lawyer friend to file official paperwork. You can also probably contact your state's attorney general's office. There might also be information on how to counter this site's theft of your work at the Standford Copyright website. I hope you don't just let this drop.
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    From:kellynaylor
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)

    Wow. Just wow.

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    Got here via Scalzi. I'm an artist, and that statement about the web being considered public domain nearly made me throw up on my keyboard. I'm stunned by the editor's apparent terminal stupidity. I see that the story is going viral, so I hope you'll keep the Interwebs updated on the outcome.

    (I sure hope to see @wilw tweeting this later!)

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    From:l33tminion
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
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    Sue the bastard. No, seriously, it sounds like that would be worth it.

    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!

    With statements like that, it's possible that the EFF would be happy to help you out.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)

    You can't copyright a recipe

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    Certainly in the UK & the US that's the case (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html) assuming it's just a list of ingredients. If they changed the wording of the method then they're probably legally ok (morally dubious perhaps!).

    If they've lifted introductory text, descriptions and image verbatim though , that's not ok. You might want to make it clearer what you're objecting to them lifting.

    I'm not sticking up for them, it's just potentially not as clear cut as some have made it out to be and I hope it's all sorted out in your favour.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)

    Re: You can't copyright a recipe

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    Different Anon.

    No, they lifted the WHOLE ARTICLE, not just the recipes.
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    From:marionette-doll.myopenid.com
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)

    Take it to court, push for Class Action

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    Finding a lawyer on this may be easier than you think. The response you received shows blatant disregard for copyright, and believe me: if they have done it to one, they have done it to many. I have been published before, and the amount of paperwork for even small publications is rather surprising. All i's are dotted and all T's are crossed, and paperwork is kept ON HAND at all times for pretty much anything that is less than several years old (it varies depending on the publication, but many places keep their paperwork for as long as they exist). While it would be extremely time-consuming (and expensive, but the expense would be mostly on the part of the magazine), it should be possible to go through and check literally every last entry over at least the last few years to see if there were any more issues like this where work was taken without permission. Their response shows willful infringement and utter lack of disregard for copyright law. It should be an open-and-shut case for you, but considering the response you received, I truly have no doubt that you are not the first this has happened to. Many people probably don't even realize it. Get legal council, and push for class-action. As I said, most publications keep paper trails to avoid the risk of using other people's work. It will take time, but it should be possible for them to provide release and agreement forms from everyone who has been published with them (for a few years, at the very least). Good luck!
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    From:marionette-doll.myopenid.com
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)

    Re: Take it to court, push for Class Action

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    ...note to self: don't accidentally click the "don't auto-format post" check-box.

    My apologies that my response ended up a massive Wall'o'Text.

    The basic gist of it is this: Publishers keep paper trails to avoid copyright issues, and this magazine shows willful infringement. Get legal council, and push for a Class-action suit, because you are unlikely to be the first (or the last).
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:akirlu
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
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    I sent the following e-mail directly to Cooks Source. Others may consider doing likewise and are welcome to use my text as boilerplate:

    To whom it may concern-

    I cook. I also buy magazines. I don't personally know Monica Gaudio, but I know a number of people who make their livings writing. Your editorial decision to reprint an article by Gaudio without permission, notice, or compensation is not only against the law, it is an outrage. You guys run an advertising supported, for-profit business, and you're resorting to stealing the work of writers to fill your pages? Maybe you need to reconsider your business model. While I will certainly not be buying your magazine in the future, I fully intend to find a copy at my local newsstand, flip through its pages and make note of its advertisers, and contact them to let them know what I think of your business practices, and advertisers who support you. And I will encourage others to do likewise. If you don't want a major fall off in advertising revenues, you might want to reconsider Ms. Gaudio's request for a public apology and compensation for her work.

    Very Sincerely Yours,

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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:apexmachina
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
    (Link)
    It's been said before, but damages for copyright claims are definitely non-trivial.

    Report the Facebook page for copyright infringement, send a DMCA takedown notice, contact your state bar association and talk to an IP lawyer. They'll tell you if you have a case.
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:zoethe
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
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    Apparently, just "lifting" articles without bylines is their modus operandi. The same issue contains an article lifted from Sunset magazine and one from The Food Network, both without any bylines, as well. These people are scumbags. From @meyerweb on Twitter:

    Cooks Source also stole http://is.gd/gIoT5 and DIDN'T preserve byline. I bet Taft Farm will be thrilled: http://is.gd/gIoYk

    And the article that's from Food Network: http://ow.ly/34rBW
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:elfs
    Date:November 4th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
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    Jesus, isn't Sunset Magazine a member of the Time Lifestyles Conglomerate? The people who own Cooking Light and Real Simple?

    Those people have lawyers. Lots of 'em.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:11 pm (UTC)

    Liked your Article

    (Link)
    I liked your article and I am going to try the recipe.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)

    illegal

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    that is totally illegal. don't let them get away with it.
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