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'Cooks Source' magazine an online crook?

By Melissa Bell

cookssource.jpg

The Internet may seem full of fluffy kitten videos, but it can also be a vengeful beast.

Cooks Source magazine has learned this the hard way today.

On Wednesday, blogger Monica Gaudio posted a story on her Live Journal blog. A friend called e-mailed her to congratulate her for getting a publisher for a piece she wrote on apple pies. According to Gaudio's blog, the article appeared in Cooks Source magazine, but Gaudio had never sold it to the magazine. She contacted the magazine to ask what had occurred, and asked for some compensation.

In response, Gaudio says she received an e-mail from the editor that said, "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! ... 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."

(Rob Pegoraro's got more on the scoop over at Faster Forward.)

Less than 12 hours later, the Internet has gone to battle for Gaudio against Cooks Source. A trend has started on Twitter called #crookssource. The Facebook page for the magazine has been inundated with angry comments. A discussion has started on the page with Facebook users linking to other possible incidences of plagiarism. There are links to stories from NPR, Martha Stewart Living and CNN.

When called for comment, a grandmotherly sort of voice comes on a answer machine saying that Cooks Source is "a publication for food lovers of western New England."

They can't come to the phone because "We're out in the field checking out all those great places to eat."

Now, just because she sounds like a schmaltzy version of my grandmother, and because I'm picturing her kitchen to be the kind where cookies are always baking and then stored in a ceramic pig, doesn't mean she isn't also plagiarizing articles all over the place and then writing rude letters to the original authors in her spare time. She hasn't called back or returned e-mails for a comment.

However, I do worry she is cowering near that answering machine flinching at the words, "Can I interview you about the accusations of plagiarism?"

Update: The anger, it seems, has turned to witty asides. Cooks Source has now become the purveyor of all things evil in the world. According to the Facebook page, "Cooks Source killed Laura Palmer" (of Twin Peaks fame). "Cooks Source doesn't stand up when a lady approaches or leaves the dinner table. Cad!" "Cooks Source made Windows Vista." You make me chuckle, Internets. (More witty asides at Boing Boing.)

By Melissa Bell  | November 4, 2010; 4:01 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

She should be worried. The last time I checked, the DMCA caps the compensation for willful copyright violation at $150,000 per instance. Based upon what I've seen so far, Cooks Source could be facing fines in the millions...

Posted by: washpost86 | November 4, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I am the friend in question and, actually, I emailed (rather than called) Monica and asked if a) she knew about it, and said that if she didn't she should take action; and b)if she did know, how did she market the article?

The answer to a) was "no," and apparently the answer to b) is "go viral;-)"

Posted by: JeffBerry | November 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Jeff, viral is an understatement! I'll change the post. Thanks!

Posted by: Melissa Bell | November 4, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Sounds to me like someone is badly in need of a quick refresher on copyright law!

Posted by: Leizerel | November 4, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse


Refresher?

The crowd at Gizmodo has been... exercised over this one since early this afternoon.

Posted by: vnend | November 5, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

She ripped me off as well. Check it out.
http://www.reddit.com/r/Cooking/comments/e24zn/us_cooking_magazine_under_fire_for_lifting_article/

Posted by: lonolonolono | November 7, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

She ripped me off as well. Check it out.
http://www.reddit.com/r/Cooking/comments/e24zn/us_cooking_magazine_under_fire_for_lifting_article/

Posted by: lonolonolono | November 7, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

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