Magazine steals writer’s article and tells her to be grateful

Oh, my. Something has blown up in the world of copyright.

An article, “A Tale of Two Tarts,” was published in a magazine called Cooks Source without the author’s permission.

According to author Monica Gaudio, a friend contacted her to ask how she got published in the cooking magazine. Gaudio explained on her blog after the fact that she knew nothing about being published and had never heard of Cooks Source.

She managed to find the article on page 10 of the Cooks Source “pumpkin fest” issue — which was published to Facebook as well as in print. She contacted the magazine, thinking there had been a mix-up somewhere, but it appears that the magazine simply copied Gaudio’s article from Gaudio’s own website, edited it and published it.

Gaudio asked for an apology on Facebook, an apology printed in the magazine and a $0.10 per word donation made to the Columbia School of Journalism.

The response from the magazine’s editor:

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!

So the magazine stole her article, reprinted it without permission, made money off of it and gave nothing back to the author. And, on top of that, the victimized author should be grateful for something to add to her clip file. Wow.

Logo.jpgThis must be why magazines are so awesome. This must be the kind of behavior and value that the magazine industry wants us to think about when we look at its self-serving ads.

Gaudio’s friend has written it up too, and so has Paul Bradshaw on his Online Journalism Blog. And, of course, Cooks Source is discovering what a major social networking backlash feels like:


Facebook users on the Cooks Source page are beginning to use one of the discussion forums there to sniff out other plagiarism in the magazine’s articles. (There are plenty of other new discussion threads too, many with less than civil titles.)

Of course, all of this is utter horse-hockey. The magazine screwed up, violated a writer’s copyright and responded poorly. Now they are feeling the sting of a full-fledged Web backlash. I imagine the people in that office are feeling a bit like t he city of Bozeman after our local Facebook fiasco a couple years ago.

Update: The Cooks Source website is down. At least three (1, 2, 3) parody Twitter accounts have launched, and celebrities like Neil Gaiman and Wil Wheaton are communicating with Gaudio on Twitter. The story is running hot and heavy on Reddit. The LA Times, Washington Post and Guardian have all blogged it. And Boing Boing.

Oh, and we still don’t know whether any of this is true or not. It could be a hoax. The e-mail could have been an impostor. Who knows? But the Internet is sure having fun ruining a magazine today.

2 Replies to “Magazine steals writer’s article and tells her to be grateful”

  1. I’ve been following #crookssource for the last couple of hours. Fascinating and scary. Scary to see how when motivated, the internet is an extremely powerful force. And you don’t want to be on the receiving end.

    1. What I can’t wait for is the reaction from the people at the magazine. They can’t stay locked inside their offices forever.

      Even if try did manage to ride out this wave of attention without comment, which is possible, they’ll have to respond to the lawsuits that are inevitable now.

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