This has to be the most perplexing thing I’ve heard about all day and I hear about some perplexing crap–this author, Monica Gaudio, writes a post about old recipes she found for apple pies. And I’m talking old, like so old she’s discussing whether you’d eat the crust of the older pie or if it was just intended as a carrying case. Very interesting stuff to a nerd like me.
She is then alerted to the fact that her post has appeared in Cooks Source magazine, without her permission. It has in fact been stolen by them.
And when she contacts them, the editor says two things which I invite you to marvel at:
1. “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!”–The idea that copyright laws don’t apply to the web is so… well, I’ll say, it’s a common misconception people who don’t work in media industries have. But I have never encountered it from someone who works at a magazine. How do you work in magazine publishing for thirty years and not understand basic copyright law?
2. “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.” Obviously, I linked to the original, so you can ponder this yourself, but Nick Mamatas points out what is probably the truth: “Funnier to me is the implication that Griggs thought the obsolete spellings from the recipes Monica quoted were signs that the piece ‘was in very bad need of editing.'”
Anyway, a shitstorm has ensued. And I read on Twitter that folks have alerted the Food Network that some of their recipes appear to have been used as well. That should be interesting to watch, since they can afford attorneys to clarify forcefully the meaning of “public domain,” “fair use,” and “plagiarism.”
But I still can’t decide if the editor actually didn’t know she was stealing or if she thought she could just get away with it by bullying authors who complain.
It’s very strange.
Update: Here is the best article I’ve read about the incident so far, which outlines the scope and magnitude of the thievery, which appears to be enormous and beyond just an apple pie blog entry.