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!
Sorry, I just find myself wanting to laugh that this so-called editor can't manage basic grammar and spelling.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)|| |
A Pie for a Pie
Hey, look, this outrage made it into NY Magazine:
If I were you, I'd leverage this into getting some stuff published for real.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)|| |
I'm sorry, but I am not sure I read her comments correctly. Did she say she is an editor? Then, did she proceed to make spelling and grammatical errors? And then after only asking for a small, small donation, did she inform you that you should pay because she did editing for you? OMG, I don't know what this world is coming to, or how she even has a job because she doesn't know what copyright is. Please sue, please, please, please.
Having a registered trademark makes things easier... however, I do not believe that is required.
The Copyright Act of 1976 is /reasonably/ readable: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sup_01_17_10_5.html
I want you to pay special attention to § 505 which allows a copyright holder to recover costs (i.e. filing fees) and reasonable attorney fees (i.e. not-for-profit law firms live off these kinds of cases).
§504 of the act provides statutory damages as follows:
(2) In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000. In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200.
Also, you should be aware that since you have a written admission from the malefactor, proving up your case has been made significantly easier (and the willful and continuous nature of his act makes the statutory damages much worse).
I am not an IP attorney -- If you want to take a serious step toward defending your copyright you need to seek legal counsel by an attorney who focuses on copyright infringement and copyright law.
I've seen some offers further up the chain to put you in contact with an IP attorney -- that would be a good idea.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC)|| |
we teeming masses.
We teeming masses of internauts stand by you!
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)|| |
I came across this post from Edward Champion's story (http://www.edrants.com/the-cooks-source-scandal-how-a-magazine-profits-on-theft/) and I have to say that I am appalled at the Cooks Source editor's nasty email. I teach a freshman composition course at KU & I'll definitely bring this up in class. My students should know about plagiarism in the real world, not just academia. Thanks for sharing.
As a fellow writer, and a person that gets to dreg up the wonders of the Internet, I'd like to say you have accomplished something amazing. I can only hope that something good will come about from this, if at least one less non-savvy editor in the works.
I can't really add much to this besides my verbal support for you. Hope they apologize soon.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)|| |
Almost the same thing happened to me...
that is, I too had an online magazine copy integrally without attribution (and even making formatting errors!!!!) something I wrote. I too think what another reader already wrote in another comment: "Besides legal stuff, embarrassment in public is the way to go."
Here are all the details of the plagiarism that happened to me and how I reacted: http://stop.zona-m.net/node/112
Hope this helps. These guys really deserve any bad publicity they get.
San Francisco Chronicle has picked the story up.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 04:52 am (UTC)|| |
Thank you for Standing Up
Was directed to this post by a friend's FB post, and will be posting a link myself in a minute.
I make my living selling electronic publications on the web, and I'm constantly amazed at some people's attitudes towards copyrighted material. Especially since you went to the trouble to copyright the article in question; you'd think that'd be a red flag to anyone deciding to use your work without notice or compensation.
The e-mail you got in response to your more than reasonable requests showed not only ignorance, but a blatant disregard for your rights as an author; in fact, for anyone's rights as an author.
The magnificent level of rapid and horrifying response on your behalf, and the attention that has been brought to this Editor and to this issue, is going to give me warm and fuzzy feelings for weeks to come.
Thank you for posting this, and bringing it to public attention. Anyone who feels like disregarding the value and validity of publishing material on the Internet should take an evening, like I have, and read through the responses to your post. It's both uplifting AND educational!
Unacceptable. *hugs* They are hearing from everyone. They are going to have a hard time bouncing back from this.
"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."
Yes, it is called plagiarism, which is a form of theft, for which there are laws prohibiting said conduct. Just like people getting murdered happens with stunning regularity, even at workplaces.
For whatever it is worth, it looks like an official of the magazine in question has just declared all past, present and future internet content of said magazine to be "public domain" above and beyond what is considered fair use.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)|| |
what a ****
normally, i'm against copyright movement and use it as least as possible to me, instead of that, i normally use CC.. But, i can understand why one person wanna use copyright to protect its work.. Having said that, the official position of that magazine and its editors is just a shame.. With people that can't respect the rights of others and even give a response like that, we're just doomed..
written from my phone
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 10:31 am (UTC)|| |
Re: what a ****
Even with CC the author retains certain rights, usually prohibiting commercial use.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)|| |
Wow, that editor is a troll. I don't know if it's been suggested, but a university in your area may have a legal clinic that might take up such a case pro bono.
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