Copyright Infringement and Me
Nov. 3rd, 2010 @ 11:14 pm
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!
Dude, that sucks!!
Hail from the TorrentFreak group on Facebook~
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.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)|| |
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.
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.
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 ;]
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)|| |
Sorry if this is already known, but this story made boingboing.net: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/11/04/todays-web-justice-d.html
I wish I could give you some advice, but I'm still shocked after reading the Editor's response.
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.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)|| |
|(Link)|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.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)|| |
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.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)|| |
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!
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)|| |
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.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)|| |
Please don't let this go - this could become an example case
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.
I have been brought here by literally everything in my networking sphere: facebook, twitter, LJ... I'm shocked it's not on digg yet.
I'll just express my outrage for you, since everyone else has done the advice route. I'm glad to see the internet is standing up for you, because the way you were treated was outrageous. And good on you for not simply sitting back and accepting a bullying editor.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)|| |
First of all, copyright infringement is the tort, not plagiarism. There is a difference between having a copyright (which, in the US, subsists from the moment of creation) and registering a copyright (which is required under US law to pursue a claim of copyright infringement in our court system.) Just because you didn't register your copyright doesn't mean anyone can grab your published work (and the Internet is a venue for publishing, not the wild frontier) and use it themselves without compensation. The Internet isn't free and while this idiot publisher would like you to believe her stupid, self-interested proclamations, she is wrong, wrong, wrong. She also should have been grateful that you offered a reasonable resolution instead of pissing all over you.
As an attorney, although we are not establishing a client-lawyer relationship here, I would suggest you immediately register the copyright to the article. Since the article was originally published 5 years ago and the infringement has already taken place, you cannot avail yourself of statutory damages or attorneys' fees in your demands or any potential law suit. And I guarantee the runt knows the amount of recovery would be too small to interest any lawyer or make it cost-effective for you to hire one. However, you can probably go to your local volunteer lawyers for the arts and get some help at pushing this along to a reasonable solution.
OTOH, you do have the option of sending a cease and desist letter under the DMCA to any server carrying the material and demand the take down. You find out who the DMCA agent for notice is by going to www.copyright.gov. The letter must contain a description of the work sufficient to identify it, a claim that you are the owner of the copyright, a statement that no right to use the work was granted, and a demand that it be expeditiously removed.
Publicizing what has happened to you is a quick way to humiliate the perpetrator, but it could give rise to a claim of "trade defamation" against you. Truth is a defense in defamation, but it can be expensive to defend.
I hate when these things happen, but as a photographer (yes, I am both a lawyer and a professional photographer) I do recognize that things I put up on line are likely to be stolen no matter how I embed copyright notices or statements that reuse requires a license. Registering the copyright to any work that goes on-line within 90 days of its first publication there establishes my keys to the courthouse door and reserves statutory damages (rather than actual damages) and attorneys fees as compensation for the tort.
Find a local copyright lawyer and plan your next move. You were wronged. She's a thief.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: Copyright Infringement
Given the sheer volume of copyright violations alleged
from a brief search of articles in Cooks Source, as well as the list of companies whose work may have been reproduced (Time Warner, Disney, The Food Network, National Public Radio), Illadore will probably never get the apology she deserves, or the donation she requested, but she can take some comfort in the knowledge that Cooks Source will probably never see another issue.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)|| |
I just experienced the same thing, except in my case, the woman took my Berserkergang article
from the Viking Answer Lady
website and submitted it to Lambda Alpha
, the journal of the anthropology honor society, presenting it as her work. I totally felt violated.
The editor of Lambda Alpha was horrified when I contacted him, and immediately took several steps to make it right. Immediately, they removed the article (pp. 2-9) of Alpha Lambda Journal 33 (2003)
. They also will be publishing an expanded version of the article under my name as author in an upcoming edition.
I speak with personal knowledge of how distressing it is to find that someone else has stolen your work, and I hope that you end up with a resolution that salves the injury.
Glad to hear there are still some publishers who take plagarism seriously. Thanks for posting this story!
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)|| |
Get in touch with David Friedman (Duke Cariadoc of the Bow). He had a similar experience...Emeril Lagasse took one of his recipes off of his web site and presented it as his own, with no acknowledgment to His Grace for the recipe. Not even a footnote in the end credits. Nothing. He can tell you what he was able to do.
Elaine Koogler (Kiri in the SCA...I sent this suggestion through the SCA Laurels' list as well.)