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!
National Writer's Union
In case the 230 other comments didn't get there -- if you want legal representation, join and then contact the National Writer's Union. They have expertise in this sort of thing.
Also, have you considered mailing a jar of urine to Cook's Source?
Re: National Writer's Union
pop it in a bottle labelled "Mead made to an original 14th century recipe - best enjoyed with a slice of medieval apple pie"
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)|| |
Only Unrepentant Idiots Admit Guilt
I only read through the first page (of five) of comments.
Nobody in that first 20% seemed to realize (or bothered to point out) that the plagiarzation was duly admitted in the reply letter from the publisher. That is an out-right admission of guilt.
The publisher had every opportunity to read the notice of copyright ownership and contact the author to ask permission. They chose to not do so, and spend their resources to edit and publish that which did not belong to them and which they did not have any legal right to publish, let alone edit (for any purpose other than educational or personal use).
The tone of the letter excerpt signifies defiance and disrespect for both the law as well as creators of IP. There is no remorse, humility, or sense of accountability for their own behavior.
IANAL! Check with an attorney first! However, it seems to me that a DCMA take-down notice/request will affect ONLY the web content. The published, dead-tree content is irrevocable. That makes the DCMA take-down ineffective at this point.
Take 'em to court. Sue for damages, court-costs, a published (in the dead-tree magazine) apology (that is not hidden beneath a cheap-advertisement and reduced to small print on the third-to-last page), and for the insulting definition of your request for a $130 donation to a school as a "request(s) for monetary gain."
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: you're on twitter.com's home page top tweets
writers write. they write a lot, even when they're not 'writing'. All you need to do is piss off Scalzi or Gaiman, and there goes the internet.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)|| |
Inspired my own post
This is a sad and sordid tale. I hope you get it worked out to your satisfaction, whatever that may mean.
It did prompt me to post a little rant
over at my WP blog.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC)|| |
They admit theft in writing. DMCA
File a DMCA complaint to Google and their ISP:
A public hate compaign is always good too. Are the links in your blog rel="nofollow"? If not, make sure they are, as otherwise you are just aiding their business in the search engines.
their facebook wall is exploding with outraged people. I hope i sent a few more their way.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)|| |
File a Copyright Infringement Report
If you can, file a copyright infringement report with facebook explaining the situation.
I don't expect them to take the page down, but it'd be so funny if they did. Clearly CooksSource does not invest a lot of money into their webpage and they depend heavily on facebook, it seems, to share information.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)|| |
editors should protect authors, not cheat them
I've been a professional editor for more than 25 years and am still surprised by what some publishers -- and authors -- think they can steal from other sources. I once edited a book whose author was a university professor who stole liberally from websites, including Wikipedia. How did I know? Whenever his writing got a little better, or he used big words or unusual phrasing he hadn't used before, I'd search the words online. Like his description of a blue jay. Sure enough, the first entry that showed up was the one he'd copied. Sometimes he even left the links from the websites in his manuscript copy. When I first caught an example, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and advised him he could not lift copy. After I kept finding more, I reminded him that he would not let his students plagiarize and neither would his publisher let him do so. He was amazingly unapologetic! If I'd had the authority I would have refused to continue to work with him. As it was, I saved him from huge embarrassment and possible legal action by catching all his cheating -- or maybe I didn't catch it all...we'll see.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)|| |
Beyond some of the other advice given here(registering your copyright, DMCA notice, etc) copyright infringement is a violation of the Facebook Terms of Service. This story has gone viral so they will likely take notice and take this seriously. File a complaint against the Cooks Source with Facebook. They may get the sight locked out or at least will be asked to take down your article.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)|| |
Wow, if he had any more sense he'd understand how his lack of understanding and contradictions make him look like utterly clueless scum.
- I know about copyright, but copyrighted material on the internet isn't!
- I stole your art, edited it sans permission and redistributed it, but you should pay me for infringing on your rights!
Didn't his mother teach him not to steal?
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)|| |
I posted my own comments on this on my LJ too. I hope you're enjoying watching the entire Intarwebs rise up to smash this self-important fool. :)
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)|| |
I would consider a lawsuit. This woman is clearly in the wrong.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)|| |
This sounds like a perfect second segment for Stewart or Colbert.
As a small time horror author this kind of thing really sickens and pisses me off. I have retweeted your information (moonlithorrors) and will also be making my feelings known on my website and through emails and social media to the magazine.
Just letting you know you are getting a lot of support!
Another vote for "lawyer up."
Open admission of plagiarism... classy.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)|| |
Holy crap, this woman lives right down the street from me!
Want me to go egg her house? (-:
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)|| |
Many many people have read about this outrageous injustice via bOING bOING and numerous tweets including some from very high-profile twitterers. I recommend contacting some big-boy press (even national) about it, stating the huge interest already generated. I'm sure many would love to do a little piece on it, considering the proven readership.
Humiliation for the offending mag, a proper apology and compensation, and a little exposure for your website would surely ensue.
And is it just me, but did the "editing" the editor mentions just consist of moving some of the paragraphs around - probably to fit the magazine layout better rather than to "improve" the text.
Absolutely unbelievable. I hope we hear about the resolution to this one.
That is just really awful. I am so sorry. It is worth the effort to slap her down. How awful and tacky of her to claim your work needed editing! What a bitch! (Hey, we can all use a good editor--but my suspicion given her lack of professionalism in every other area is that she ain't the one!!)
You would think if they wanted to be professional, they would at least use spell check on their response to you.
Just found this link from Facebook. As a writer and editor, I am appalled and disgusted. The red flags in that quoted letter - "If you took offence," "the article is much better now" - make my blood boil.
So basically you should be GRATEFUL that they stole your work, I guess?
I also *love* the bit about "never charging young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces." Jesus H. Christ. What an asshole.
I have reposted to my FB page and will also repost to Twitter. Let us all know how this shakes out.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)|| |
They want to talk....
I hope you sue them into oblivion. Given the fact they've obviously stolen from who knows how many individual authors and cooks such as yourself and also The Food Network, this magazine probably has a very short time to live. The unfortunate part is that they'll probably try to avoid all monetary responsibility and just declare bankruptcy.
According to Cooks Source Twitter feed, they apparently think they can convince people that they're right if only they talk to them over the phone. Additionally, according to another tweet they apparently think they can get around from copyright law because they are "adding value."
They're inviting people to call them at:
Re: They want to talk....
actually, that twitter account is probably a fake...
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)|| |
Don't fool around
You should make it your life's work to destroy this person personally and professionally. When you have them down, or in court, or begging for their life, you should not let up. If this person is willing to say these things in print to you, their regular abuses of writers are almost certainly much worse.
If you have the time, take this person apart piece by piece.
Re: Don't fool around
I think the internet is doing a pretty good job of that so far...
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)|| |
This is wrong on just about every level. My advice is to find out who owns the publication and contact them directly. This "editor" is putting them at financial risk of major lawsuits. Unless the owner is dumber than this joker, they will deal with it. Mention the word "lawyer" or better yet, have one write up a letter.
Best of luck,
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)|| |
the owner seems to *be* the editor.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)|| |
Other stolen articles?
I sent a note to NPR about one of their articles that appeared on Cooks Source with a heads' up about this theft, gave links to both their and C.S. articles. Got back a note from Scott Hensley: "Thanks. Appreciate the tip."
So far readers have spotted articles from Foodtv, Sunset, NPR, and WebMD. Is this the tip of the iceberg?
I sent a note to FoodTV as well.
Re: Other stolen articles?
I know Scott, professionally. His specialty is healthcare and pharma but I am sure he's passed the tip on.