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 4th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
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    Terrible. I'd be really upset if that happened to me as well. Good luck with this issue.
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    From:chimeramwe
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
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    Posted to Buzz, my Facebook wall, and my Twitter. Best wishes to you.
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    From:farklebarkle
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
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    From:ekovar
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)

    Removing article from Cooks facebook page

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    Someone may have already mentioned this but if you go to the Cooks Source Magazine photo that contains the article you can click on "report this photo". Other people can't do anything since the only option which is relevant is "Is this your intellectual property?"

    You might want to wait a while, though, since people are comparing what they printed against what you wrote. There's been and continues to be an impressive outcry.
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    From:ext_309723
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
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    lawyer the shit out of them for me, plz. :)
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    From:ext_309706
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC)

    Unacceptable

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    Just saw this come across my Facebook news feed. I think the worst part is the editor's response. It is just plain disgusting.

    You can take this to small claims court. If you really want to make them look bad, take them to Judge Judy. I've seen her mediate cases where one party has used the others intellectual property without knowledge/permission. A LOT of people watch Judge Judy...a LOT.
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    From:ekovar
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)

    Re: Unacceptable

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    I don't think it needs to be taken to small claims court. Paula Dean was sent the photo from the same issue with an article plagiarized from her. It's been turned over to her lawyers. Following up on an article in the Washington post there's also "NPR blog, Martha Stewart, WeightWatchers.com, and WebMD, among others."

    In other words illadore (I'll use the LJ name here although she's rather been outed by now) started a firestorm and people with very, very good lawyers are stepping in.

    illadore, thank you so much for getting this going.
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    From:nmdrkangl
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
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    What... the... fuck.
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    From:amergina
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
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    From:fatesarchitect
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
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    I love that he asked the Internet to let up, now that the point has been made.

    The internets is like a runaway train, especially when someone has been victimized by a particularly wanky individual.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)

    You don't need to "lawyer up" to submit a copyright takedown notice to Facebook.

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    you can find their automated takedown form searching facebook help.

    If this were legal advice, it would be followed by a bill
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    From:delux_vivens
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
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    the web is considered "public domain"

    What.
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    From:gamejew
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)

    *almost

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    I keep *almost feeling bad for her, on account of the fact that she's an older lady and just had now freaking clue what she was talking about, but then I go back and read what she wrote and the feeling dissipates... there is NEVER ANY reason for someone to be so incredibly condescending and pompous. What a fool.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)

    FUСK COPYRIGHT!

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    http://bit.ly/9qv5J2
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    From:sketchkat06
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)

    oh my I have some evil ideas...

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    Well your story is very close to setting me on a rampage. Luckily I am tired today so it's limited to evil revenge thoughts running around inside my skull. I would say on of the easiest and most productive steps you can take is to inform your local media of the situation. Local papers covering your city, area and county. Grassroots types of local magazines and groups. "Bigger" media outlets usually pick up on those stories and they can spread like wildfire from there.

    You could also try calling them and instead of asking for the editor, ask for the names of the manager, board of directors, staff list, etc. Make sure this particular editor is not keeping the situation under wraps. It could also be fun to have different friends call and ask if they have a press release or statement about the copyright infringement case >:) hehehe

    I noticed under their Contact Us page there is a list of sources for their monthly publication including addresses. It should be easy to get phone numbers for those establishments also. I would give them all a ring and let them know what this 'free' publication is up to. I think the Whole Foods in particular may be up to taking their publication out of their store :)

    I find it also interesting how much emphasis that editor put on their being a free publication and helping young writers for free yadda yadda, yet on their website they are also marketing themselves as "an effective and affordable way to marker your business" They very liekly have the income to pay your very modest compensation. On that note, try to find out if they are a licensed business for what they're doing and complain to chambers of commerce and BBB. Of course if they are operating a business wihtout a business license....mwuahahahahaha >:D

    Oh, here is the website of the town they are based in: http://www.townofsunderland.us/index.htm Town Clerk: http://www.townofsunderland.us/Town%20Clerk%20Home.htm and Town Administrator: http://www.townofsunderland.us/Selectmen.htm

    and the county: http://www.frcog.org/
    I am sure those can offer some fun. I would particularly inquire to make sure they have a business license for they are running a business by charging advertising fees....

    Oh my, ok I am done with evil scheming for the moment, GOOD LUCK!!!
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    From:ecwoodburn
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)

    Re: oh my I have some evil ideas...

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    See a couple comments above -- a "bigger" media outlet has already picked it up, albeit on one of their online-only columns.
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    From:pelgar
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
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    Here come the drums!

    You're 100% in the right and you asked for a reasonable donation.

    Now it's time to be less than reasonable and bring the pain.

    Good luck!
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    From:darkcircuitry
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
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    Dude, that sucks!!

    Hail from the TorrentFreak group on Facebook~
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    From:binkythebomb
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)

    Copyright

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    Although blogs hosted on sites like Blogger, Wordpress etc are covered by copyright laws. But because the notice is not there, a lot of people assume that this is 'in the public domain' and free to rip off and use for their own purposes.

    This is wrong, and is legally enforceable (Although you'll need a lawyer and some details from the blog site to make sure it can be upheld in court). In future however, having a worded copyright notice on your site (in a sidebar or permanent footer) will discourage others from doing the same. There are a few sites that provide information how to cover yourself online, which I suggest you hit up as soon as possible, a quick google search should reveal a few local and nation sources you can use.

    Remember the Editors words: The Internet is a public domain, but that does not mean you are free from litigation if you decide to bad mouth said publication over this. However if you wanted to say "Take a look at this website here" and "Take a look at this blog post here" and "Check their publication dates and this blog post" and sent it along to a dozen or so online news services, I'm sure someone would be interested. Maybe even a local newspaper, local to the magazines offices for example...

    Of course I suggest this last step after the legal options have run dry (and your lawyer/solicitor says its clear to do so).

    I myself use Wordpress to blog with and they have a support page covering Content Theft http://en.support.wordpress.com/content-theft-what-to-do/

    Some of the information there should be useful.
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    From:br0k3nsoul
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)

    Re: Copyright

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    The article was stolen from a page that had a copyright notice on it, on a domain the author owns. All precautions and proper actions on the author's part were taken. This is just pure ass-y stupidity on the part of the editor.
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    From:jaredgarrett
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)

    News item

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    Hey Monica,
    This is lame. Sorry to hear about it. You are inspiring me to get after the people who have taken some of my content too.

    I have a question: I write news pieces for several content outlets and wanted to know if I could have your permission to refer to your experience with Cooks Source as an example of a widespread problem.

    I'll watch for your response. Are you aware of the firestorm slamming Cooks Source right now? The entire Internet is after these guys.
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    From:rayof_sunshine
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
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    Twitter led me here, and I am absolutely shocked at the nerve of that woman. I'm jumping on the overflowing bandwagon of people leaving them scathing facebook comments ;]
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
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    Sorry if this is already known, but this story made boingboing.net: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/04/todays-web-justice-d.html
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    From:ext_309747
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)

    Shocked

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    I wish I could give you some advice, but I'm still shocked after reading the Editor's response.
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    From:ext_309751
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
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    In general, I agree with the arguments against retaliating in kind. EXCEPT that the "editor"'s claim that the web is considered public domain should be construed as placing the web edition of their "magazine" thus in public domain (by editorial intent if not by actual law) and thus provide an ironclad defense, should it not?
    (i.e., Two wrongs don't make a right, burt this is arguably not a wrong. Oh, except that they may, for all we know, have obtained other contents by similar malfeasance and one wouldn't want to magnify that.)

    On second thought, class action and statutory damages look like a better option, with maybe a decent chance of putting them out of business.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
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    they may, for all we know, have obtained other contents by similar malfeasance

    They have. There is an ongoing list on Cooks Source's FB discussions page.
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    From:luciab
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
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    http://www.copyright.gov/
    This page takes you to everything you need to know about your rights and her idiocy. I had my work stolen last year and with this info I was able to get a solid settlement. The info is really easy to understand, too, and not the LEAST ambiguous.
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    From:beccalynnlaw
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
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    And we were all quite thrilled you did! (My Laurel is the one who found that shirt)
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    From:jess_dr
    Date:November 4th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
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    Yes Monica, I have been breaking into homes for 3 decades, having been a burglar in New York, Houston, and Connecticut. I do know about breaking and entering laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as my theiving business is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to leave a check behind after burglarizing someone's home.

    But honestly Monica, the contents of your house are considered "public property" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" everything you own and put "property of Judith Griggs" labels on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially in houses and apartments. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the Ming vase we took from your house was in very bad need of repair, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will look much better. 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 patching the cracks with elmer's glue, you should compensate me! I never charge homeowners for advice or restoring valuable antiques, and have many who give me Ming vases... ALWAYS for free!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
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    Ok so I would definitely take it to court, just to show them that you're not going to get down on your knees and thank their pompous asses. Even if you don't end up getting much money from it, it would definitely be worth it. I urge you to do this. Please.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)

    Please don't let this go - this could become an example case

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    This is actually a very important case, and you should litigate - it could set very important precedents.

    Doubt you will have any trouble getting a huge Internet groundswell campaign going either (as can clearly be witnessed by Reddit interest).

    Finally: can you imagine if a Hollywood film studio replied to a WGA writer with the response you got?

    Good luck - and please don't back down on this one.
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