Google “Cooks Source Magazine” if you want the gory details, but let me sum it up for you…
Last night someone noticed a distressed blog entry that described how the blogger’s work had been “appropriated” by a for profit publication without notification or payment. Not a pro blogger, just another one of those “hey, I wrote this thing for anyone interested in reading about it” folks.
The magazine is just one of those little local free papers in central Massachusetts that gets distributed at various shops and restaurants, reaching maybe fifteen or twenty thousand readers. A friend of the writer had contacted her to congratulate her on being published. The writer, thinking it might be an honest mistake, contacted the owner/editor of the rag. She politely asked for a printed apology and a donation of $130 to the University of Columbia’s Journalism department.
Then the editor made the mistake of responding poorly, refusing to pay, claiming that the victim should be happy about it, and that if anyone deserved to be paid it was herself as she’d had to edit the article — her editing consisted of butchering transcriptions of fourteenth and sixteenth century English into modern – completely missing the point of the article.
The quiet sigh of distress from the victim got noticed, and as the majority of content on the interwebz is *written*, you can imagine how outraged the professional writers got when this came to their attention. Hell, the girl wasn’t even asking for money herself.
By eight AM this had gone wide enough that well-read bloggers had picked it up. By nine AM Neil Gaimen had tweeted his 1.5 million followers. Wil Wheton tweeted it to his. At 11:30 it had been picked up by at least one national news organization. I expect it’ll make Fox News this evening.
See, it turns out that pretty much the entire content of the magazine is lifted from the web. And the editor didn’t restrict herself to unknown bloggers, she’s been swiping stuff from The Food Network, Paula Deen, and Martha freakin’ Stewart. Oh, and there’s also some infringement of stuff owned by a little company created by some fellow named Disney.
What’s astounding is that she reposted the entire magazine on a Facebook page, and it took folks about thirty seconds to start pasting paragraphs into Google and locating the originals. Deen has already confirmed that she’s unleashed the lawyers. Others are surely following suit.
The magazine’s source of income, the local businesses who advertised in it, have been e-mail bombed into submission, expressing justifiable outrage that they’ve been taken advantage of. These are the editor’s neighbors and possibly even former friends. The woman’s business is toast. Her social standing has been demolished publicly and internationally. If any of the major players sue (and they likely will, because we’re talking about print here, not just some ephemeral bits) then she will be financially ruined. Add to this that copyright violation is a US Federal offense, and she is absolutely screwed.
The Internet has effectively destroyed her life in a matter of hours, and she could have avoided it if she’d just been polite and anteed up $130 dollars.
And you know what? Based on her actions, her contemptuous response to that unrewarded blogger, she’s one of those people you run across occasionally who really deserves it.