The Stupidest Thing an Editor With Three Decades of Experience Has Said About the Web Today

It is, in a response to a writer complaining that the editor’s magazine stole something she wrote on the Internet and used it without compensation:

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!

Get the whole story, from the writer of the piece, here.

And then get Nick Mamatas’ take on it, here.

And then go look at the Facebook page of the magazine and see how people are gently correcting the editor in question, here. That is, while you can, as I have no doubt either the page or the comments will be taken down soon, although, of course, screen caps, text cut-and-paste, and good ol’ Google cache will keep the spirit of dissent alive forever!

And kids, remember: Writing on Teh IntarWeebs can has copyright! Even the newbiest of newbie editors should know that.

Oh, and to add to the Google Search weight this incident will have, the magazine in question is Cooks Source. That’s “Cooks Source,” with a “c.” Once again, Cooks Source.

There, my work is done.

162 Comments on “The Stupidest Thing an Editor With Three Decades of Experience Has Said About the Web Today”

  1. I like how the editor complains about all the “editing” she had to do on the article…somehow missing the editing on her own magazine’s title.

    Rich sauce indeed…

  2. The phrase “epic fail” gets overused, but I think that editor may be the definition of it. A bigger pile of WTFery would be hard to find.

  3. Man, the parade of shame over on the facebook page is epic. I wonder if they haven’t yet noticed it, or just don’t have a clue how to make it stop

  4. Wow. Anyone wanna take bets on how long it will be before this hits Fark and then, inevitably, Fox News?

  5. Talk about a lack of shame and basic decency. No wonder we in education have a hard time teaching the students about plagiarism and its evils when we get editors like these basically saying it is ok to plagiarize. Good grief.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  6. Recipe for Distaster:

    Blatantly steal some copy from the Internet,

    Print in Magazine and publicize on Facebook,

    Add One wronged writer.

    Throw in a really dumb letter and then,

    Take one so-called, Editor-in-Chief, put into frying pan,

    Take out of the frying pan and put into the fire.

    Bring to boil on the Internet,

    Allow to cool and put on ice,

    Revenge is a Dish best served cold.

  7. I believe my favourite part, aside from the utter and supreme arrogance and incorrectness displayed by that so-called “editor,” is that her email is so poorly written and badly edited. If she’s such a bastion of editorial practice, she should really take the time to proof her own misguided rantings.

  8. Thanks for that heads up, John. I co-edit a cooking blog and have sent one of my minions (ok,. me, when I have time) to see what what other liberties they are taking with cooking blogs.

    I also especially enjoyed the ‘…in very bad need of editing…’ comment on a quoted recipe that was written in non-modern English.

  9. You gotta love (justified) internet mobs. Crowdsourcing justice.

    Someone has already found a recipe that is word for word from Food Network. Methinks this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

  10. So is the name of this magazine which is involved in blatant copyright infringement Cooks Source, Cook’s Source, or Cooks’ Source? The first is clearly bad grammar; the second only really works if only one cook is using this magazine as a source.
    I suppose you could make the argument that the magazine, by inspiring cookery, is a source of cooks. Would that make this plagiaristic rag a Cooks Source?

    However it’s spelled I’ve linked plagiarism, copyright infringment, and shameless bad manners with the magazine “Cooks Source” in this post, so my work is done.

  11. It’s pretty clear Cook’s Source is facing an empty cupboard when they add scoops of unintended ingredients. If you don’t steal sugar and flour from the store before you start baking, how can you steal off the onlline shelf and call it good?

    They need editorial leadership, and I have just the list to choose from, writers who know what leadership really means. Who would you trust, a confused editor of a free magazine with thirty years in the field, or one with two centuries? Pass the pie, please. (not a stolen link)

  12. You can track how fast this is going viral (this is about the fifth reference I’ve seen to it, multiplying like a worm). At this rate it should hit an old media website within an hour or so.

    By the way, and speaking of flash mobs, did Charlie’s little flood yesterday on wingnuttery in the House of Lords beat out your taping-bacon-to-a-cat hit extravaganza?

  13. Gob. Smacked.

    Seriously. I acknowledge that I’ve only got one-and-a-half decades of experience as an editor, but it seems to me that I knew how copyright law applied to the Internet, oh…one-and-a-half decades ago. I’ve had one, count ’em, ONE author pull that whole “but the Internet is public domain” crap on me while I’ve been working, and the publisher and all my colleagues backed me every step of the way when I laid the smack down on that author. To be fair, I work in technology publishing, so perhaps we have a better grasp of the Internet than the cooking magazine industry, but…no. It’s not like the Internet just turned up last week. Nobody with that little understanding of how copyright works has any business calling himself an editor.

    My name is Brian MacDonald, professional editor, and I approve this message.

  14. I’ll bet the magazine’s social media director is having a word or two with the editor in question.

  15. “Actually, Monica, we got that article from a copy of your book in a public library, which means it’s public domain!”

  16. Also, I think it would be only fair to suggest that they use (with attribution) the recipe for Schadenfreude Pie.

  17. Wow, this person is so completely wrong it’s kind of precious. Like, you don’t see people that wrong every day. It’s maybe a once-a-year kind of thing. Well, except for an election year, but even coming out of elections, this one stands out as special. Based on her statement that everything on the internet is public domain, I’m going to predict that she’s been stealing articles from the internet with some regularity, and that Cook’s Source is hopelessly compromised with infringing material. She really should have paid the $130.

  18. Well, now, I’m just going to put this one up on my LJ too.

    If “The Web” is public domain, I can use all those pictures out there for free in my published work! I can take the stuff on the Disney site! Why, I can use MICKEY MOUSE in my OWN WORK! I’m SURE that “the web is considered public domain” will get the Mouse’s lawyers to leave me alone!

  19. John, you are probably right. I should have said “The receptionist whose job also includes updates to the Facebook page is probably sitting at her desk with a bewildered look on her face right about now.”

  20. It looks like a regional magazine with a circulation in the range of the SF digests. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a pure kitchen-table operation: there may not be anyone to fire the editor, because there isn’t anyone but the editor. In which case I hope for her sake that the magazine isn’t a sole proprietorship — because if this isn’t an isolated case, that magazine is in for a K/T-grade world of hurt.

  21. I wouldn’t assume that the editor actually believes what she wrote, as opposed to knowing that she stole someone else’s work and got caught doing it. The fact that she condescendingly criticized the article, to me, rings of the kind of anxiety and anger you hear from people trying to get you to shut up shut up shut up.

  22. I love the “oh, you silly little bunny” tone most of all. Of course I can steal your work! Insult to injury.

  23. Commented. Blogged. Shared. Thanks! Sometimes it’s fun when the intarwebs go ‘splodey.

    Now, I’m back to work like a good little bunny…for a publisher who PAYS authors.

  24. Their Facebook page is quite amusing now. Has anyone started searching their Travel Source publication for similar plagiarism?

  25. I’m loving the “internets cavalry charge” feel of it all.

    “Help me, Obi Wan. You’re my only hope. Well, I mean besides Nihilistic Kid. And Scalzi. And Neil. And BoingBoing and… and…”

  26. That is spectacularly stupid. It’s one thing to be guilty of theft, but to so unabashedly admit to theft IN WRITING – what an idiot!

  27. Mythago @17 – Tears of joy unless it’s your own client. Which I know, from experience, hurts. DON’T ADMIT TO UNLAWFUL THINGS IN EMAILS. You’d be amazed how difficult it is to get even well-paid public servants and corporate executives to process that.

  28. This is really fascinating. Less than an hour ago (11 a.m. EDT) two of the first ten results on Google for “Cooks Source” referenced this issue. Now, at noon, it’s six. (I’m not counting the number one result, which is the Facebook page. And, well. You know.)

  29. Gee, I wonder if it’s likely they took artwork without asking.

    The number of people (even illustrators) who think Google Image Searched art is fair game is staggering. Umm, perhaps we should thank Cooks Source for drawing attention to the issue? By “drawing attention”, I mean tripping and falling over the issue and bouncing down a skyscraper full of stairs. With killer bees.

  30. Jumpin’ Jesus with a cattle prod. And a sno-cone.

    I mean, not *just* the massive plagiarism for commercial profit 101 fail, but the absolute dripping condescension combined with the foot-bullet dig about all the editing required to “fix” contextually correct, researched language.

    This editor is Christine O’Donnell of the free cooking magazine world.


    My company, Daverana enterprises, was affected by the huge number of stories plagiarized by David Boyer. His thefts include a story that was recommended for a stoker. HWA pulled the rec’s when they were informed that Boyer was not the author of the story. They also pulled a volume off that was close to reaching nomination status when it was revealed that most of the tales in it were plagiarized.

    We are in the process of discussing the matter with legal counsel and have filed complaints with the AG of Indiana.

  32. It does look like a gorgeous fall day outside….wha? the internet is falling! the internet is falling!

    That facebook page will never be the same again. I wonder how many calls their advertisers are getting. See? The web ain’t a series of tubes, it’s an angry hive of nerds ;)

  33. Earlier today I wrote this:

    Some of my written work was once pirated by a coporation.

    In 1984, when I was 13, I wrote an article on revising the AD&D combat tables, sent it in to Dragon magazine, and it was published the following year. Before it hit print, I was given a contract to read and sign. The contract specified that I was selling “first serial rights” only, and retained all rights for republishing, putting in anthologies, etc.

    I signed the contract, and got a $100 check.

    20 years later, Dragon released a CD-ROM compendium of all content. My article was included, without my permission.

    This was not “initial” serial rights – this was a republishing.

    I sent an email saying “you owe me additional payment”.

    They wrote back saying “no”.

    I filled out a small claims court form in MA, submitted it along with a $40 processing fee, and waited.

    A few weeks later I was given a court date.

    I showed up. The Hasbro magazine rep (Dragon was published by TSR, which had been acquired by Wizards of the Coast, which had been acquired by Hasbro) did not show.

    I won the case by default.

    The court mailed the judgement to Hasbro.

    A month later Hasbro mailed me a check for $2,000, in accordance with the judgement.

  34. The twitter parody is good:
    > @daviticus People brag about their ignorance all the time…and then they get reality shows. That’s what we’re hoping for.

  35. Re: other instances of plagiarism in the magazine: About three minutes ago near the top of the Facebook comments was someone who tracked where they lifted a couple of photos from.

    I am beginning to think that while the author who was.. lucky? unlucky? enough to be the one to turn on the Internet Flamethrower might not end up looking for legal recourse, for financial reasons or whatever, it’s only a matter of time before someone with time and money to let loose the lawyers of war finds their own stuff in one of the back issues. Then this will become even more… entertaining.

  36. The fake twitter account was funny — but it wasn’t subtle enough. It went slapstick too soon. The beauty of a great twitter parody is that it stays in character long enough to take people in.

    If our kind host permitted the pimping, I would link to a co-blogger’s Crowning Moment of Awesome, in which he did a North Korea government twitter feed and aped the propaganda tone so perfectly that he got a Norwegian paper to report that North Korea was declaring war on Cyprus.

  37. Wow, talk about the internet coming down on your head – this is pretty funny to watch, and I would bet that her phone is off the hook at this point. The facebook page has exploded – remember to unlike this after y’all post there.

    I eagerly await to see her reaction – I can’t see how she can prevent her magazine from going under with this much bad attention.

  38. Don’t they know that if you burn your stupid, it sticks to the pan and caramelizes? Maybe we should warn them–that stuff’s impossible to get off.

    So, Dear Cooks Source: Your stupid is burning!

  39. is it possible to cry tears of schadenfreude? because seriously. This is great. It’s like Anon has an older brother who’s educated, well-read, and ready to unleash an internet disdain machine.

  40. Thank you for posting that. It makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one having to deal with colossal stupidity toady.

    *sniff* *sniff*

    Is that roasted editor I smell?

  41. Glendon @50… someone where I work (an in charge type) actually said “Why are we paying for AP Graphics? Just use Google!” And he was serious. So very scary.

  42. Many of the comments here made me laugh, but these two topped everything else:

    @50 Glendon Mellow “By “drawing attention”, I mean tripping and falling over the issue and bouncing down a skyscraper full of stairs. With killer bees.”

    @57 Izanobu “The web ain’t a series of tubes, it’s an angry hive of nerds”

  43. @68 Missy

    Come on… that’s NPR – National PUBLIC Radio. Our- tax dollars paid for that, so it’s public domain. Even says so right in the name.


  44. Apparently all that stuff I’ve been putting in textbooks for years about plagiarism and appropriate use of intellectual property off the internets should have been going in the AARP magazine instead.

    Oh, . Really?

  45. Wow. If she weren’t so egregiously breaking Wheaton’s Law, I’d almost feel sorry for her.

    Nah, who am I kidding. The phrase “hoist on their own petard” is fitting here, methinks.

  46. This has never been her day job (if you Google her name and town of residence, you’ll see some interesting articles about her job performance in her day jobs) and one can see why.

    In addition to unauthorized reprints, there’s some stone plagiarism going on–one of the sleuths at MetaFilter found a article reproduced without attribution, though I suppose Griggs thinks that WeightWatchers of Australia should pay her for changing “chook” to “chicken”.

  47. A net positive out of this though seems to be that godecookery, the place where the article was originally and legally published, is having so much traffic that I can’t get into it.

  48. Dear Editor of Cooks Source, Removing the medieval spelling of words directly quoted from a medieval cookbook =/= editing. KTHXBYE.

  49. At least one of the Cooks Source advertisers has pulled out now:

    Laura Puchalski As an advertiser, we are disappointed in Cook’s Source and we are pulling our ads from this publication. Many of us (as is the case with our business) paid several months in
    advance for advertising and are unlikely to get any compensation back.
    We ask that you please stop emailing our business, we agree that the
    publication made a grave error, but the blame should be placed with
    them. Please do not make small businesses like mine pay for their error
    in judgment.
    -Laura Puchalski
    (2nd Street Baking Co.)

  50. She’s also stolen articles from the Food Network. She’s now had several businesses that advertised in her rag pull their adds.

    She herself has a facebook page that you can send her a personal message on.

    However there is no “Staff” to get her fired. This is a one woman operation, the phone number is listed as an apartment. At BEST someone will sue her. But she won’t get fired, and she’s got “Travel Source” coming out soon, something else she can steal with.

  51. Cooks Source isn’t even an on the newstand magazine. The last time I picked it up this summer, it was in newsprint, maybe 28 pages, if that. They’re a small, very regional freebie. I think they offer subscriptions, but most of thier funds come from advertising. I plan to drop an email to one of thier major advertisers, Atkins Farms, and ask them to reconsider future ads.

  52. Ironically. Their public response (nothing), at least as far as the vengeful internet is concerned, is probably their best bet.
    If you keep still and play dead, the internet denizens will realize their chew-toy is broken and move on. If they had lept to their defense and started decrying the assault on their facebook page, this would have gone on for days, and we would have probably gotten a couple of good memes out of it.
    Oh well.

  53. This issue was adjudicated to the authors benefit by Tasini v. NYT, et. al.back in 2002 or 2003

  54. Wow. Just wow.
    I notice Paula Deen was notified via her facebook page and says her legal people now have the issue. This is probably the tip of the iceberg…I can see the AG of Massachusetts getting involved.

  55. With face-rage now fully in gear, it seems the folks at Reddit have been playing “find the sources” and that pretty much everything in the magazine is “appropriated” material from the net. Now, it’s one kind of stupid to try and steal blog posts from folks who write non-professionally – they aren’t likely to sue, though the Interwebz has crushed people for lesser offenses. It’s a step up from stupid to idiotic when your personal income is based on the good will of your neighbors and your thievery ends up causing them grief – imagine what the in-boxes of those folks look like right now. At that point you’re going to have to move to a new town that’s far, far away.

    But when you steal entire articles from the likes of Martha Stewart you have just committed personal financial suicide. Ms Griggs is almost certainly the sole owner of the magazine – it certainly appears to be the case. That these articles were printed on good old fashioned paper makes this an easy one for the lawyers to figure out.

    Her business has already been destroyed by the net flash. Her personal reputation has simultaneously been destroyed. Next up will be lawsuits and possible Federal prosecution, along with the shame of having her name forever immortalized in some future edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. To “griggs” an item from the net is memeing itself into the zeitgeist at alarming speed.

    Sadly, most of the reaction has been vitriolic and unthinking, folks posting angry rants while not even correctly identifying the genders of the major players. I am happy that people will become outraged by things like this, but I am equally frightened by the ignorance many of them display.

    Oh well. At least it’s entertaining in that slow-motion-train-piling-into-a-cardboard-shack-kinda-way.

  56. I guess we are getting a couple good memes out of this:

    “I don’t know how to write my own post so I’ll just use this one:
    “I don’t know how to write my own comment so I’ll have to steal one:
    “I don’t know how to write my own comment so I’ll have to steal one:”But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public doma…in””

  57. I pinged the NPR facebook page since they are one of the article sources.

    Hopefully that helps it jump to mainstream media.

  58. Well, I did not think it would take this long, but the story is on The Washington Post website now.


  59. What I find most interesting about this entire incident is how self-inflicted it is. If Ms. Griggs had been apologetic and placatory (placating?) in her response to the original blogger, the blogger might have still posted publicly, but nobody else would likely have gotten involved. But by defending herself so rashly and stupidly, and lashing out when she could have compromised, she made the issue interesting.

    And because it was interesting and she was so arrogant and nasty, people started digging into her archives. And now NPR and Paula Deen and the Food Network are in the mix, and she’s doomed. All because she was nasty to a small-time blogger who happened to be on Nick Mamatas’ friends-list.

    Lesson learned: be nice to people. You never know when it’s going to pay off.

  60. “…along with the shame of having her name forever immortalized in some future edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. To “griggs” an item from the net is memeing itself into the zeitgeist at alarming speed.”

    Already done:

    Function: verb
    Inflected Form(s): griggs’d
    Pronunciation: gr\ i \gz

    1. To use content on the web without permission, then request payment from original author for rewrites and editing.
    2. To remain ignorant of plagiarism, ethics, copyright, and asshat behavior.

  61. Lizard @91: no, this isn’t a Two-Minute Hate; this is an Internet dogpile. A Two-Minute Hate is letting people blow off steam by holding up a scapegoat as the font of all evil thoughts, as you may recall from 1984; an Internet dogpile is where somebody makes a boo-boo and the tale of their perfidy spreads over, and enrages, the Internets.

  62. I work about five minutes from Atkins Farms, one of the advertisers. I just called them, and they have been inundated with calls and e-mails about this situation. They’re investigating the matter, likely will pull their advertising, and believe that the magazine will be out of business in short order. So – don’t call Atkins, fellow Pioneer Valley residents. They know what is going on and are doing their best.

    As for their products…Scalzi, you might want to check out their apple cider doughnuts. Best in the country according to the New York Times, and if you want a taste, reply here and I’ll gladly send you some so you can tape them to Daisy….

  63. Mythago, I wouldn’t call rampant and long-term copyright infringement a “booboo.” This lady is completely farked. She stole from Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, and the Food Network!

  64. Well, as cofax says, what made it blow up so big was the self-infliction. And, really, the world is sorta hungry to see stupidity and arrogance correctly rewarded, since it’s so seldom rewarded elsewhere in the world.

  65. kari @94, I agree entirely; I was using ‘boo-boo’ as a general descriptor because Internet dogpiles happen over behavior ranging from ass-showing to criminal. In this specific case, I think I would classify it as Lawyers WIll Feast On Your Liver and Lights.

  66. I hope Ms. Griggs knows the proper grammar included in the sentence, “Do you want fries with that?”

    Travel Source magazine, by all accounts, is a steaming pile of stolen property, as well.

  67. As an aside, and speaking as a former denizen of the Pioneer Valley (actually went to college across the street from their market), I can attest to the veracity of Ellid @93’s statement: Atkins’ apple cider donuts are things made of AWESOME and WIN. Not only do they taste heavenly, they actually make you smarter, more visually appealing, and they’ll fix your brakes for below-market prices.

    Note: that last statement may not be 100% true. But the donuts sure are tasty.

  68. @Ellid: that’s apparently happening to all of her advertisers. This is likely the messy end of Cooks Source. If she’s lucky, the corporate lawyers won’t come in to pick over the bones.

  69. The sad thing is that this is hitting small businesses in the area: the pages of the magazine are still up as photos on the Cooks Source FaceBook page. To quote a FB post by 2nd Street Baking, the first business to pull their advertising,

    “As an advertiser, we are disappointed in Cook’s Source and we are pulling our ads from this publication. Many of us (as is the case with our business) paid several months in advance for advertising and are unlikely to get any compensation back. We ask that you please stop emailing our business, we agree that the publication made a grave error, but the blame should be placed with them. Please do not make small businesses like mine pay for their error in judgment.
    -Laura Puchalski
    (2nd Street Baking Co.)”

    There has been tremendous sympathy and support but that doesn’t reimburse them, and she later added that they haven’t been able to get any work done today because of the disruption.

    So, it’s not enough to plagiarize, you have to hit the local pizza place, another advertiser?

  70. I’m just amazed at how insane people are going over this too…
    Is it because it’s a magazine? Is it just the stupidity of her response?

    I mean, Cindy McCain didn’t get nearly this level of news when she ripped off Rachel Ray and the Food Network.

  71. @wygit: I think it was the arrogance of the “But, honestly Monica, …” bit. She leads with that phrase into a bonkers legal theory and finishes with “[w]e put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!”

    I mean, I can be arrogant. It’s my favorite failing. This is a masterpiece, in its way. Just stunning. And I say that after having followed numerous Tea Party candidates through the recently ended election season.

  72. @103 I think a large part of it is based off of the hubris of the editor. Had she not been so spectacularly dumb and condescending, few people would have cared but the author and her friends. The Internet loves to take down the prideful.

    But I agree that some of the responses have been pretty scary. Death threats? Harassing the advertisers even after they’ve pulled their advertising? A mob is a terrifying thing.

  73. concerned local residents should make it a point of spending extra at advertisers that have pulled thier ads
    a “reverse boycott” !

  74. They have the magazine available on facebook as a series of images, but page 10, with the start of the offending article, appears to have been “mysteriously” redacted! (The page where the article is continued is still up, FYI.)

    If this weren’t so gawdawful ugly, I’d be laughing my ass off.

  75. Elspeth @101: some people just look for opportunities to pretend to be righteous assholes.

    It would be nice to set up a fund to compensate the advertisers who pulled their ads – I’m sure there won’t even be scraps left once Paula Deen’s lawyers get done with this woman.

  76. I just read today’s LA Times Food blog page. The author of that page is now talking about this fiasco.

  77. Folks from Pioneer Valley. If John allows it, why don’t you throw up the contact info for the small businesses that were affected. The internet may have smacked down the magazine, but we could also order some tasty treats to offset the horror the small biz’s are going through.

  78. Great tweet, re: dropping the internet on someone’s head.

    Also, thanks just for posting this. I’ve been following it all day, and have been very entertained.

  79. @36

    …that magazine is in for a K/T-grade world of hurt.

    Bwahahahaaa! Geo/paleo geek WIN!

  80. Oh. That’s a funny post.

    By the way, just read your book Old Man’s War…awesome. And I loved the flash of the book in that brief scene in SGU Season 1 – priceless. I wonder who’s idea THAT was?

  81. #80 Mary Lynn; Yes, it will be interesting to see how settled law plays in this case. Jonathan Tasini, then the president of the National Writers Union, sued the NYT over unpaid re-use of authors’ materials, and won.

    I wonder what kind of house Griggs owns? And whether or not Monica will like the color scheme.

  82. Okay, I didn’t see this above (and if I missed it, I’m sorry), but someone found that she stole from Disney. The House of Mouse has lots of lawyers protecting everything Disney.

    Teh Internets have been busy notifying those ripped off, as well as reporting back. This can only get more interesting as it progresses.

  83. Tom @80: it’ll play predictably, if all the allegations are true: copying other people’s material without permission and putting it in your advertiser-sponsored flyer is pretty unambiguously a copyright violation. Admitting it and hinting you’ve done it plenty before just seals the deal. I foresee a bankruptcy and endless legal nightmares in this person’s future.

  84. I can understand the confusion on the part of the editor. Every time someone wants to crack down on people sharing TVs and Movies on the Internet, a lot of the digerati go nuts saying that the MPAA/RIAA need to look for a new business model and that they shouldn’t be suing fie sharers and that there is nothing inherently wrong with copyright infringement. Even suggesting punishing someone for sharing the copyrighted works of others is enough to get you DDOS’d by Anonymous of 4Chan

    Someone infringes copyright in a way that the digerati doesn’t like and copyright infringement goes back to being a bad thing. Or is the real message here that it is okay to infringe copyright as long as you don’t profit from it or take credit for it?

  85. I can understand the confusion on the part of the editor. Every time someone wants to crack down on people sharing TVs and Movies on the Internet, a lot of the digerati go nuts saying that the MPAA/RIAA need to look for a new business model and that they shouldn’t be suing fie sharers and that there is nothing inherently wrong with copyright infringement. Even suggesting punishing someone for sharing the copyrighted works of others is enough to get you DDOS’d by Anonymous of 4Chan

    I’m sure that’s exactly why she was confused.

  86. @Podvic @125: Or is the real message here that it is okay to infringe copyright as long as you don’t profit from it or take credit for it?

    Well, those are certainly *two* distinguishing factors between Cooks Source and your average person BitTorrenting “Transformers 2” or writing fanfic. In fact, I’m pretty sure that not profiting is a major part of courts’ copyright fair use test (although not a deciding factor either way). Attribution isn’t quite as decisive in copyright law in America, but in Europe it’s considered a major part of artists’ moral rights. Certainly on the Internet the Creative Commons license has made attribution part of the common Internet culture.

    *sits back with popcorn waiting for Laurence Lessig to make a statement*

  87. Considering that this started out with a food blogger and (I gather) a one-person mag with a small audience… and now it’s all over FB, all over the blogosphere, and in the LA Times and the Washington Post, and has crossed the Atlantic to the Guardian in the UK, all =in less than 24 hours= (MonicaG and NickM’s blogs about this are time-stamped around 11pm or so last night, and it’s currently 8:30pm here)… I’m thinking that, yeah, maybe the editor’s letter to MonicaG, which was gobsmackingly obnoxious, is what has attracted SO much attention to this and, indeed, even make it good newspaper copy. I, for one, had all SORTS of lively reactions to the letter when I read it (from “I must have misread that, let me try again,” to “is this woman INSANE?” to “you CANNOT be SERIOUS!”)–so I guess a lot of other people did, too, and hence the viral nature of this mess, right up to and including some rather high-profile publications.

    If only all copyright infringement cases were widely exposed this quickly and with such intense interest. But, alas, we can’t always count on copyright infringers to be so careless -and- so full of hubris.

  88. I realize this is going to sound testy, and it is, but there is really no excuse for a regular Internet user to be broadly unaware of what kinds of things are or are not fair use. Layman-friendly information on this subject gets posted over and over again any time issues like “but I didn’t charge money for it!” or “but I gave the author credit and said I’d take it down if they complained!” come up.

    Informational links:

  89. On Slashdot last week there was a post about a guy who’d had his whole series of comics scanned and posted on the 4Chan message board without his permission. The consensus there (and I note that Doctorow was quoted heavily (perhaps not correctly, but his writing is broadly interpreted by his supporters (though not necessarily by him) )) as advocating piracy in the name of getting recognition.

    As for the profit angle – apparently The Pirate Bay was brining in over a million a year in hosted advertising – yet there was a strong consensus that the pursuit of legal action against them was somehow draconian.

    I agree that it is all bad – it is just odd to see that a lot of people who happily infringe on the copyright of others are so vehement when someone else gets caught doing it. Sort of like how some sides of politics speak out so strongly against acts that they themselves indulge in.

  90. @#110 by JASONMITCHELL on November 4, 2010 – 5:07 pm

    I believe that’s called a “buy-cott” :)

  91. Podvic @131: In this case, it was less the infringement itself than the condescending, snotty, clueless reaction to the author saying “Hey, you stole my stuff.” Although, yes, people often go with the narrative in their heads rather than reality, so if you can portray your infringement as Plucky Hacker Stickin’ It to the Man, you’re more likely to get the Internets to head-pat you than if you’re ripping off and reselling other people’s articles for your food newsletter.

  92. Editors for “mainstream” press steal off the ‘net blatantly. A couple years ago, a dear sweet friend of mine was murdered by a psychopath in her office in NYC. I was shocked to see a photo I had taken of her and her husband on the cover of the NY Daily News a day or so later. It had been lifted from a mourning thread started on an internet music forum of which we were members. No one asked me for permission to use my photo and needless to say, I never received a dime in compensation for however many copies of their “newspaper” that were sold. Out of respect for the grieving family of my friend, I never made an issue of it, but I am reminded of the incident every single time I hear of print media lifting source material out of the bowels of the internet.

  93. What mythago said. If the editor’s response had been along the lines of “alas, we’re a small community paper with no budget to speak of, but we’ll put a note in the next issue directing people to your website,” there wouldn’t be a story here. It’s not the intellectual property rights per se that are the salient issue here, but the editor coming across as a jerk and inadvertently dissing the entire Internet in the process.

  94. Holy Moly, that was a lot of comments to read through! I hate that supposedly “famous” magazines and cooks often believe they have free rights to do what ever they want to. It is stupid, it’s silly, but it is also the way of the world.
    However, Mr. Scalzi, I would like to thank you for turning me onto a wonderful website. Gode Cookery has a font of information that I and my family have quickly fallen in love with and am thoroughly enjoying. I am just as much of a Renaissance Nut as I am a Sci-Fi Geek.
    Thank you!

  95. Well, he didn’t acknowledge copyright laws coz hes mind is so full of what-era-was-im-born writing,until it was told to pay for the fine. Lucky guy he didn’t need to write in a jail.

  96. OK, I’m a bad person who joined in the pile-on. It was fun!

    I was involved with the plaintiff in an open-and-shut infringement case, and it was no bloody fun. It was our tiny start-up against a big publisher, and it took years. We had to hire an expert witness, who demanded immediate compensation, so we had to take out a bank note, and I spent the 17th of every month sweating to make the payment.

    I remember crying at the post office because the monthly check for my other little job had arrived early from the UK, and I was going to make the note on time.

    It sucked.

    All the people advising Monica to pursue legal action are ignorant. Or were, before the story involved every big media food publication/channel in the known world.

    Poor Ms. Griggs will be crushed, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Publishing just isn’t the best fit for someone so willfully ignorant of the very body of law that makes the publishing industry viable in the first place.

  97. @Hamletta –

    In this case I think the Internet has done the job very neatly without resorting to legal action. It reminds me what Cornelius Vanderbilt wrote to Charles Morgan and C.K. Garrison after they attempted to cross him in a business deal:


    You have undertaken to cheat me. I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you.

    Sincerely yours,

    Cornelius Vanderbilt

  98. The Oresteia just never gets old. This is Justice by way of the Eumenides and in the short run I was very amused, but I woke up this morning thinking I don’t like it much.

  99. Seems like “Cooks Source” was lifting material from sources other than just Monica Gaudio–both copy and imagery. One might wonder how many big Stock photo sources like Getty may have had images lifted via third-party. So while Ms. Guadio may not independently want to file any legal claims, there are plenty others who may wish to swat the fly in the kitchen.

    Oh and I’m another one who thinks Gode Cookery looks like a cool site. Thanks!


  100. Podvic@131: “it is just odd to see that a lot of people who happily infringe on the copyright of others are so vehement when someone else gets caught doing it”

    Do we know the people who defend the pirates are the same ones who are protesting in this case? There may be some overlap, but I suspect they’re two different populations.

    The Internet, it’s a big place.

  101. John Scalzi @ 127: Apologies to everyone whose comments were in the spam trap — I’ve released them now.

    But the poor comments will still need years of therapy to get over the trauma!

  102. I’m a little late to the dog pile, but for the sake of argument, I thought I’d throw this in.

    Food recipes in general, are not covered under U.S copyright law.

    From the U.S. Copyright Office:
    Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.

    Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.

    The keyword is may

  103. @K3vin #144

    This wasn’t just copying a recipe, it was stealing written articles. While you may not be able to copyright the recipe, the entire article, which compared and contrasted two recipes from different eras, is most definitely copyrightable.

    If just the recipes themselves had been copied it shouldn’t have been an issue. It’s the difference between copying Beowulf and copying an article that compares it with The Epic of Gilgamesh.

  104. hamletta @138: it’s wise to be open-eyed about the meat grinder that is litigation, but the US’s tort system works quite a bit differently than the UK’s.

  105. It’s so nice to see someone go “me big, you little, suck it up” and then get theirs. It’s so rare, unconscionably so.

  106. Repeat after me:





  107. While it definitely was not comparable to this feces-cane in scope, you might be Amused by the story of how I had somebody steal an essay from my website (long ago: the site no longer exists) and, upon my polite request to take it down, respond with a letter claiming *he* wrote it and *I* stole it from HIM!

    Through a truly ridiculous series of events, it became known that this person was a “fugitive,” of the sort who just goes somewhere else and hope it all blows over, who was engaged in a sexual relationship with a sixteen-year-old runaway, and his location and activities came to the attention of the authorities because of Internet discussion of the matter between people interested in the topic. He never did take my essay down – the site host eventually did by default when they took down the site – but I’m guessing that he might give Ms. Griggs a run for her money in the “Man, maybe I shouldn’t have been such a douche” sweepstakes.

  108. I wonder if the editor ever noticed that, by implication, any articles from her magazine she puts on her website are to be considered in the public domain?

  109. To add kindling to the roaring fire, Cooks Source started a new Facebook page, claiming the old was ‘hacked’ and in a fit of irony, is saying they will ‘take further action against anyone caught hacking’, ‘Any posts considered libelous will be removed’.

    Hell hath no fury like the Internet when you been found out as a fraud.

  110. Since everything online is public domain, I’d like to take this moment to announce my two latest works, coming soon…

    “Old Man’s War” and “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”

    …I hope you enjoy them as much as I did copying and pasting them. ;^)

    And to echo what has already been said, “Wow. Just wow.” At least we can rest assured that Ms. Griggs of Cooks Source has learned something from all this. Still…wow.

  111. Cooks Source rolls dice for initiative and somehow comes up with a negative number.


  112. (Just wanted to mention that no, I really haven’t forgotten the problems of the small business owners who advertised in Cooks Source, I’ve just had to switch to taking care of my parents so haven’t and can’t do followup, legwork, or whatever.)

  113. @Wolf “To add kindling to the roaring fire, Cooks Source started a new Facebook page…”

    This assumes the “new Facebook page” is genuine. Given the preponderance of hoax accounts created since this started, and given what’s been posted there, I find this distinctly unlikely.

  114. For those who wish to give some love to the best apple cider doughnuts in America, here’s the link to Atkins Farm:

    Note that I am not responsible for any weight gain occasioned by the purchase and consumption of delicious, deadly little treats…..

  115. Christopher Weuve @ #152:

    I wonder if the editor ever noticed that, by implication, any articles from her magazine she puts on her website are to be considered in the public domain?

    I doubt she cares. It appears increasingly likely they were all stolen from other sources and cost her nothing anyway. So one can’t even take what might seem a fitting revenge on her; it would only compound her offense on her victims.

  116. Here’s a relevant question: Is Cook’s Source staffed by anyone more than Judith Griggs herself? On Nov. 14 there finally was an interview with her in the Daily Hampshire Gazette and she very much implies that it’s just her (and her adult daughter who helps with the distribution, which she does herself). Cook’s Source is *not* a Conde Nast publication. It’s like a little newsletter put together by a 59-year-old woman.

    I’m not saying this wasn’t a self-inflicted wound. In fact if anything, if Cook’s Source is just her Judith Griggs has been actually continuing to hurt herself by constantly using a “we” (even in her final apology post). I suspect people wouldn’t have gotten so angry, nor would there be a continuing level of anger if they realized this publication is just one person’s little rag. There’s probably no “there” there. It’s a sad woman who doesn’t understand the internet who wrote one of the world’s meanest emails.