Why Fucking with the Internet Can Be Like Feeding Your Genitals to a Hay Baler

So, earlier today as I was cruising around on several blogs I like reading, I wandered to Nick Mamatas’ livejournal. His post on Copyright Follies tells the story of a writer named Monica who had one of her recipes stolen by a regional magazine in western Massachusetts called COOK’S SOURCE. When Monica emailed the managing editor J. R. Griggs, she received a response that read as follows:

“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!”

Obviously, this editor is a complete and total moron about copyright law and infringement. So, Monica, curious as to where she could turn for help in dealing with this, contacted Nick who then posted it on his livejournal, which is read by a great many folks, myself included.

I hate hearing about crap like this. Writing is tough enough as it is without outright acknowledged thievery going on. We work hard for our money and do our best to improve our craft. Hearing about Monica’s trial with this magazine led many of us – actually a WHOLE LOT of us – to repost, Tweet, and then assault Cook’s Source’s Facebook Page, call the editor (who has her voicemail on). I then spent some time calling various advertisers to let them know what was happening. Other people have retweeted this thing all over the world. And Cook’s Source is reaping a wild shitstorm for their complete and total douchebaggery in this instance.

And all Monica wanted was an apology and a measly $130 donation to Columbia.

I’m sure that there will be a lawyer looking into this, and most monetary damages for this sort of thing usually net about $20,000. That’s costly for a small mag like this.

But wait – now comes word that Cook’s Source may also have lifted stuff from The Food Network, of all places?

Yep, this is a perfect illustration of why you don’t get all smarmy when it comes to dicking people over. The power of the Internet is real and lasting. I’ll be surprised if Griggs has a job and if the magazine lives after this debacle.

But that’s justice for ya!

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