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!
Adding another outraged voice to the growing mob. I wish you luck!
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)|| |
Here are some ideas for you:
Putting a Copyright Infringer Out of Business
WritersWeekly Invoices Competitor $38,250 for Copyright Infringement
I Received $100 For The Unauthorized Publication Of My Work
Writer Receives $500 for Unauthorized Use of Her Work
An Author / Attorney Protects His Copyright By Harvey Randall
Copyright Infringement - My Wake-Up Call By Victoria Kirk
Pish Posh, Illadore. Copyright is dead. You and I both know that. Your work isn't yours. It is free for the taking on the internet. Information wants to be free.
It's better for you anyway! You will get publicity for your work which will mean you will sell more of your work than you otherwise would. If you want to make money you should take your Tale of Two Tarts on tour and perform it for live audiences while selling T-shirts.
Dude. This thing is asploding. Awesomesauce!
I've just retweeted the link to this on both of my twitter accounts. If you tell us what hash tag to use, I bet we can get this news to trend.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)|| |
It's already trending (stateside only)- at least "Cooks Source" is.
Here from Twitter as well. Cooks Source is not only being eviscerated on Facebook, they're on Twitter as well! Or at least I think so. Their Twitter person is either very stupid or this is a very well-done joke. Either way, they come across as snooty, ignorant, and still very convinced that they are right. Watch @cookssource and decide for yourself.
I have no legal advice, but as a fellow writer, I just wanted to add my support.
Looking at @cooksource, I'm certain it's a joke account, and a funny one too.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)|| |
What would you have done if they approached you before using your article? Great job on the article btw, apple pie is delicious.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:22 pm (UTC)|| |
more comments and ideas for you
You are popular at Hacker News too and there are some good ides there. I am not a fan of the courts and I think there are too many lawyers in this country for our own good but I would sue this idiot into hell!
I utterly feel your pain, Monica. I used to write for an actor's official site and discovered after being strangely excommunicated that the admin was pretending he was writing
all the stuff and taking all the credit and kudos. (The actor found this out, thankfully, but it didn't matter in the long run.) When I started a fanblog on my own, totally separate, my articles and photos were lifted by this same douchebag admin
, who even started trying to write like me
, pretending that I was still writing for the official site! I got smart and started watermarking stuff, and don't write that blog any longer thankfully, but it was excruciatingly annoying.
I know my travails aren't as bad as yours, but I fully understand your anger and frustration at the idiots who think they can just blatantly do this with no repercussions and hide behind the internet being "public domain." Bullshit. Give 'em hell.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)|| |
The worst example of this was an incident where an original author was plagiarized, followed by the thief author changing the original words. After widely distributing the changed article, the thief accused the original authors article of being wrong. Since the thief author was very well known and "trusted" by the public, she got away with it. That could be why blog networks are attractive to some writers in contrast to independent blogging.
I heard about this through twitter. I have retwitted it and it has become a FB update, if you don't mind. Sadly, it is not the first story of that kind I hear told from the affected person, as I am quite connected with written media and graphic art scene. You have all my support.
Greetings from Spain.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)|| |
File a DMCA complaint with FaceBook
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:29 pm (UTC)|| |
I think you have gotten a lot of the best possible advice from many people.
Can I link to this post?
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)|| |
Contact this group and let them know what happened. They can tell you how to proceed. www.copyrightalliance.org
At the very least she should lose her job. The magazine should be fined, and you should be compensated at the current going rate per word.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)|| |
Followed a link from a friend's LJ. I'm appalled, both at the conduct of the magazine and at the frankly rude (and legally incorrect) response you got from them.
I'm sure other commenters here have already covered this (considering we're on page 6 of comments, lol), but I'll just add the following (with the disclaimer that this is not to be construed as legal advice, and that the only advice I can give is that you should seek legal counsel):
a. If you have not already done so, register your copyright for the article. All ideas fixed in tangible form (including on the internet) are entitled to copyright protection. This is a pro forma process, costs next to nothing, and you probably won't require the assistance of an attorney just to register your rights.
b. File a DMCA claims. You have rights, and the law gives you an opportunity to enforce those rights.
c. Talk to an IP attorney. Yes, there is a cost involved, but many would be willing to take this case pro bono, I suspect. Slam dunk, really. (If you don't have access to legal counsel, consider the law clinic route. Or PM me, if you like).
d. Keep scrupulous records of everything (which it appears you're already doing).
Good luck. And spread the story far and wide. This sort of thing has to be STOPPED.
I found this link
on when new works are actually entering public domain... Not until 2019. Theft is theft, and seeing as how you're still alive, copyright or NO copyright posted, it's not theirs to take. Lawyer it UP. Writer rights!
Oh by the way it's not just THE INTERNETS giving advice. That article was written by an attorney.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)|| |
For an editor, she sure doesn't know how to use commas.
I hope this gets sorted out quickly!
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)|| |
you are not the only one.
I just contacted a gentleman in texas who carves very distinctive pumpkins. While I cannot find the other pumpkins, searching for just 'tiger pumpkin' (which appears on page 8 of the same issue as your article) got me to him (and his clearly copyrighted images) very quickly.http://pumpkingutter.com/pumpkinblog/?page_id=555&cpage=3#comment-158
It has come to light that a magazine, Cooks Source, has completely lifted an article from godecookery.com, and when contacted by the owner of that site/author of the article, the editor 'informed' her that everything that can be found online is 'in the public domain' (http://illadore.livejournal.com/30674.html
I noticed that elsewhere in the magazine your tiger pumpkin (from http://pumpkingutter.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=27
) was printed in the same issue (http://is.gd/gIuDL
or check Cooks Source's facebook page in their gallery for the recent issue), and I'm willing to bet they used the same specious logic that if they found it online, even with your clear copyright notice, it was theirs to use.
You may want to contact the author of the other copyright violation, as (if you did not give them permission), this is pretty endemic at the magazine, and both of you can back each other up.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:43 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: you are not the only one.
Seriously, I can't even believe that. As a chef I ALWAYS have helped other people in the kitchen and it enrages me that other people who enjoy cooking or do it on a professional level don't do this in a larger sense of the philosophy. If you had threatened to sue them or demanded some sort of payment I might have understood the response you received. However suggesting that to learn their lesson they should apologize (totally deserved and there was a spot recently on NPR about how sometimes you gotta nudge someone to apologize lol) and donate money (to a damn good cause I might add, thank you for being unselfish), that was class IMHO.
Let me just tell you a little story related to people and their understanding of the Internet;
Yesterday I was chatting with someone online. We got into a discussion about piracy of software (I am completely against it and the other person seemed to claim that he/she wouldn't do it but that it wasn't wrong?). The statement made was; It is OK to download something on the Internet early as long as you are going to purchase what you download when it actually is released in stores. A friend of mine brought up that would be like stealing a car and then going back and paying for it a week later. The person's response to this; you can't compare killing a family of 4 to killing a mouse.
Now obviously the conversation that took place was much longer than that but I will save you the unimportant details lol. But this is the stupidity I think a lot of us are forced to deal with on a daily basis.
Unfortunately people who are less comfortable with technology want to do whatever it is in their power to smite those of us who know how to use it and have an easier time at getting x, y or z accomplished thanks to technology (i.e. I would personally see your Internet postings as published even though they are in digital format, and I am sure it was easier than having to send a million type-written copies to 1000 different editors to attempt to get the same result).
Anyways now I seem to have lost my train of thought, arg! Needless to say I would be happy to support this cause if there were some sort of donations needed to cover your legal fees in this matter. Maybe set one up so that you can give this person what they have coming. As you said, this is plagiarism, no if's, and's or but's about it. Time for this person to learn a valuable lesson...Just because it is on the Internet does not mean you can take it and do whatever you want with it (creator be damned).
I really hope you can get this resolved and the person ends up learning their lesson.
Nonsense. I work for a publishing house as an editor and copyright manager. I ALWAYS tell my authors, if you get it on the Internet, it's going to need permission to re-use. Any editor worth his/her salt knows that the Internet is not public domain.
I saw this on Nick's LJ last night and tweeted/buzzed/Facebooked it. This morning my partner woke me to say the Internet had exploded with the story.
The editor can't even spell Housatonic. Yeesh.
Short of getting Guido and Butch on the case, at the very least I'd have a lawyer send the editor a letter explaining in concise legal terms what she has in store if she doesn't pony up to your original requests.
Just popping in as a professional writer who gets stolen a lot to offer my support. Fortunately I have a large media conglomerate backing me.
Also, I took the liberty of going to the Borders across from where I work on my lunch break, and dropping off a note to the general manager letting him know about the controversy, and encouraging him to pass the word on to other Borders, especially those that might stock the magazine.
No idea if he'll read it, or if it'll do anything, but far be it from me not to add my little bit to the Katamari of Outrage.
"Katamari of Outrage" = best metaphor EVER.