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Cooks Source magazine masters new recipe: How to annoy the Internet

By Rob Pegoraro

In case you were wondering, posting something on the Internet does not -- as a matter of copyright law or common practice -- turn it into public-domain material that anybody can reuse at will.

The folks at Cooks Source, a formerly obscure food magazine based in Sunderland, Mass., apparently were confused on that point. So they saw fit to copy and rework an article found online,
"A Tale of Two Tarts", for their October issue.


Bad enough. But when the original author, Monica Gaudio, spotted the copy and e-mailed the magazine to ask for an apology and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism, she did not get a helpful reply. As recounted on her blog, Cooks Source editor Judith Griggs send back a tone-deaf response. It first offered a tepid apology -- "It was 'my bad' indeed" -- and then plunged right off a cliff:

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.

I e-mailed the magazine but haven't received a response yet. I'll update this post if I get one.

The sad thing is, had Griggs simply taken one of Gaudio's recipes and reworked that, she'd be on safer ground, legally speaking. You can't copyright a list of ingredients.

Anyway, within hours after Gaudio posted that last night, her story of copy theft had begun richocheting around the Internet. The magazine's Web site is mainly a placeholder, directing people to its Facebook page -- and that's where things got ugly. Anybody can "Like" a Facebook page and start posting comments on it that, by default, will be the first thing visitors see when they arrive.

You can guess how that worked out: The page has been overrun by vituperative commentary, some making snarky but insightful points and others just yelling. (Readers with delicate sensibilities should be advised that much of it features the sort of language heard in sports bars, frat houses and newsrooms; it was not easy to take a screengrab that wasn't littered with f-bombs.) I'm almost starting to feel sorry for Griggs, though I suppose she can take some comfort in all the new "fans" the magazine's page has run up.

Dear Internet, I think you've made your point. You can let up now. Though if any other print editor makes this mistake again after this fiasco -- by all means, let 'em have it.

(3:27 p.m. Reader "porcupine88" noted a discussion brewing on the Cooks Source page of other instances of alleged plagiarism involving the likes of NPR, Martha Stewart Living, Food Network and Weight Watchers. The journalistic crime is the same either way, but doing a copy-and-paste job on companies that have lawyers on staff to watch out for this kind of thing is insanely ill-advised.)

(10:21 p.m. Earlier this evening, Griggs--or somebody with access to the Cooks Source page--posted a less-than-apologetic apology. It starts off "Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Monica via email, but aparently it wasnt enough for her" and then observes "You did find a way to get your 'pound of flesh...' we used to have 110 'friends,' we now have 1,870... wow!" The posting doesn't mention the other plagiarism allegations. As such, it leaves so many unanswered questions. For example, what's up with all the "surplus" quotation marks?)

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 4, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture, Social media  
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This wasn't a simple mistake - this magazine has also stolen from an NPR blog, Martha Stewart,, and WebMD, among others. It seems that the internet has been a regular source of content for Cooks Source for a while now.

This discussion on the FB page includes links to the orginals and CS versions of these articles:!/topic.php?uid=196994196748&topic=23238

Posted by: porcupine88 | November 4, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Greggs or Griggs?

Posted by: likenotlose | November 4, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Dear Internet: Do not let up. It's only been one day, whereas this woman has apparently been stealing for 30 years. It'll be a relief to see the vestiges of old-school journalistic arrogance die off.

Posted by: bcool | November 4, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

It appears that this magazine has been involved in multiple incidents of plagiarism involving copyright-protected material, in addition to exploiting young writers. So no, I'd say the public shamefest needs to continue.

Posted by: ToninaMDC | November 4, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The public shamefest does need to continue. This is not an isolated incident. Paula Deen and the Food Network are two other victims of this editor and who knows how many more.

In addition, at least two photographs have been stolen from the Internet without attribution and presumably compensation.

I know that so far the articles we know about have been reported to their respective sources. I am sure they will be pursuing legal action.

Also, you have to wonder how many articles and photos at their sister magazine-Travel Source-are plagiarized?

Posted by: paksiegurlie | November 4, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

@porcupine88: Yowza. Missed that thread. It's one thing to do a copy-and-paste job on the work of itinerant bloggers, quite another to do the same to large media corporations that have lawyers on retainer.

@likenotlose: Griggs.... which is not even a tricky name to spell like, say, "Pegoraro."

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | November 4, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The outrage started in a spirit of constructive civil disobedience with a Cooks Source FB Discussion tab topic asking people to politely, respectfully contact the magazine's advertisers ( noting that they were probably small businesses not complicit in the plagarism. And produced results. Of course, that was over 3 hours ago and mob rule has taken over since.

Posted by: gelogenic | November 4, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

actually, mr. pegoraro, i take exception to your comment, "It's one thing to do a copy-and-paste job on the work of itinerant bloggers, quite another to do the same to large media corporations that have lawyers on retainer." it is exactly the same thing. the consequences are generally different, but the action is the same: it is robbery, and it is excrable.

Posted by: deusxmac | November 4, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

argh, for an edit button! "execrable." damn this stubby fingers.

Posted by: deusxmac | November 4, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

"bcool" this was not 'old school journalistic arrogance.' Any old school journalist worth his or her salt would not plagarize. Neither would a new school journalist. It appears to be a lack or any journalistic training -- or ethics -- on the part of one bad editor. And, I'd have to add, her managers or publishers.

Posted by: ahorwich | November 4, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Copyright violation is NOT a theft--it's a copyright violation. "Theft" implies something stolen--like a CD or your leather jacket. Copyright violation is the appropriation of someone else's creative output, for your own purposes. It may or may not actually be worth ANYTHING. Regardless, Cooks Source has landed themselves in the Pit of Internet Infamy(tm).

Posted by: coogan607 | November 4, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Mr Pegoraro, I enjoy your writing, but this particular article left out the "money quote" that has truly inflamed the unwashed masses of the Internet:

"We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!"

That one sentence turns run-of-the-mill snark into Olympic caliber chutzpah.

Posted by: Mongreloid | November 4, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Many comments, here and elsewhere, have speculated on what Ms. Grigg's "employers" or "publishers" will do or say. My guess is that Cooks Source is a one person show.

Why? It's a free, giveaway publication, probably found in racks in the front lobbies of restaurants and food businesses. Its website is made with a free template, provided by and hosted by Intuit, the small business accounting software firm. It has no list of contacts or staff. Its email is a gmail address. Its listed physical address is an PO Box. Apparently, Ms. Grigg's tried to sell the business in the late 90s, planning to open a bed-and-breakfast (source forgotten- saw it elsewhere online earlier today).

None of these facts are intended to disparage- a home-based business selling advertising to local food businesses is perfectly honorable, but Gourmet Magazine it is not.

Posted by: BookmanOldStyle | November 4, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I think it's kinda weird that the outrage is so much higher than when Cindy McCain did it during the 2008 campaign.
I mean, yes, what they did is crappy, but people are going insane over it.
NY Sun:

Posted by: wygit | November 4, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Add Disney to the list of those plagiarized. you can NOT choose a worse copyright holder to tangle with.

The facebook comment:

Jayson Elliot says:!/photo.php?fbid=246833801748&set=a.246825371748.137954.196994196748&pid=3294326&id=196994196748

Stolen from Donna Smith at the Disney-owned site Recipes Today:

Posted by: allochthon | November 4, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

wygit: I am not familiar with that, but from what I read in the link you provided, it was just recipes, not an actual article that was "lifted". Recipes aren't protected by copyright.

Posted by: TheCuriosity | November 4, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

TheCuriosity : It is entire articles being stolen.

The original article is here : though the Cooks Source version has now vanished.

Posted by: JennyAnn | November 4, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Someone has put together a quick blog web site that is collecting all the coverage.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 4, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

For those who want to see the first page of the article with the recipe, Gawker has a screen shot:

Note that it properly credits her and it is a word-for-word lifting of her article. Page 26 (the continuation of the article) is still present on the Cooks Source FB page at present.

It's not the recipes that are causing the furor - it's not as if Monica Gaudio's recipes were original (though she has a reference list at the end of her article). It's the fact that Cooks Source pulled the whole article and did not pay her, stating that since she had it on the Internet, then she obviously wanted it published (or something to that effect).

So to sum up: recipes - not protected. Original articles ABOUT recipes - completely protected.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 4, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

From the superlative blog, they've also found plagiarism from Food Network.



She may seem like sweetness and light, but something tells me you don't want to get Giada De Laurentiis angry.

Posted by: wpost16 | November 4, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

How dare you question Griggs' use of quotation marks? She's been doing this for 3 decades!

Posted by: Seattle_Dave | November 4, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

It's not a question of copyright, it's a question of plagiarism.
Since when does the internet go insane over copyright?
(people are posting Grigg's home address and harassing the ex-advertisers, small bakeries and such, from across the country. )

Posted by: wygit | November 5, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

The best thing would be for Ms. Griggs to just apologize and make the original donation request... She needs to stop digging the hole deeper.

Posted by: Nymous | November 5, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Funny Stories, One Married Woman, Working Across From White House in RCR Wireless Floor, PAC or Political Action Commitee, Had Picture in FakeBook Kissing Another person, Deeply. Posted Pic to FB & Wow, Think Could Chop Head off, Oh My, Lost That Friendship, yet had pic on MS. BARAKS' own website & Obvious Illict Adultry.
Next, Younger person, maybe 25 posted pic of Cat, Took lovely cute pic & recieved email on how cat had been killed by FB poster, with hammer & wanted Pic ?REmoved? Really. Another lost friends.

Basicly, One Law Suppercedes All,US Code: 1932 Digital Law, Still In Effect: Any Material ,Software, Image, writings, Data, Once Digitalized, Is NO LONGER COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Large Corporations give slight respect to software before pilferred, two years, both airing out bugs & giving bit of propritary respect amoung Software Venders, Most of Hollywood film is held back two years as well, expecially TV serials & Movies. After ALL, Why Write fundumental code if Gone In Instant. Why Get Torted by Alleged Building Propriters.

Rob gives idea Someones creation on internet can WIN Big Money, Mostly Win Big CounterTort. That Original Tort by Creator Almost Shurely will LOSE, If US Code on Digitalization Is Invoked. At Hundreds of Dollars per Hour, CounterTort Can Be Quite Problematic..

In case of One Woman, Husband Called Here, Extorting Money. Thats Whole Story,blah,Blah,Blah. EXTORTION. Common Domain Means FREE. Common Useage Is That, AnyOne Can Use Piece. Free Equipment, Free Transmission line & Transmision ItSelf, FREE. Anthing More Is Rube Played Upon Public. Like Cable Fee for Watching Free TV, Station Signal. Cable Owes That Transmission Priveldge to FREE Networks, By Statutory LAW.
People Are Stuck, Yet if any case was in Public Court, Extorionist Know, Worse Than Total Lose, Then Bigots & Vigilantes' simply disappear. Judgement Against Victimizing Crminals Useless. Vigilantes of Justice, Free to Strike Next Victim In Line. Vigalantism is NOT Lawful.Vigilantism IS Thieft or Worse, By Deciet.Legally Referred To As: Larceny.


Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | November 5, 2010 4:37 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps what she should have done was to give credit where it was due, and note that hers was a rework of the original recipe. In addition, there are various ways to protect one's property, i.e., in the world of photography, water-marks are used to prevent online theft and/or plagiarism. It's a simple matter of applying the watermarks to your photos BEFOE you submit them. Could't something similar be used for recipes?

Posted by: poescrow | November 5, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps what she should have done was to give credit where it was due, and note that hers was a rework of the original recipe. In addition, there are various ways to protect one's property, i.e., in the world of photography, water-marks are used to prevent online theft and/or plagiarism, which keeps miscreants from claiming them as their own works. It's a simple matter of applying the watermarks to your photos BEFORE you submit them. Couldn't something similar be used for recipes?

Posted by: poescrow | November 5, 2010 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps what she should have done was to give credit where it was due, and note that hers was a rework of the original recipe. In addition, there are various ways to protect one's property, i.e., in the world of photography, water-marks are used to prevent online theft and/or plagiarism, which keeps miscreants from claiming them as their own works. It's a simple matter of applying the watermarks to your photos BEFORE you submit them. Couldn't something similar be used for recipes?

Posted by: poescrow | November 5, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

I apologize for multiple posts; somehow a quirk caused the system to repeat my comment, or perhaps it was an oversight on my part.

Posted by: poescrow | November 5, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't know what's worse. This or Dana Milbank lying and writing Wednesday that Fox had only one democrat on for its election coverage.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | November 5, 2010 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Gaudio and I are members of the same medieval history recreation group. Typically, those who research food in our group are working from a combination of medieval manuscripts (where recipes are largely a list of ingredients, and it's left to the researcher to determine the proportions) and modern scholarship on the same medieval sources. There is often considerable experimentation involved in coming up with one's own version of a recipe, as well as the supporting research.

What's interesting is that members of our group regularly share our research on this and a variety of topics with each other and the public at large(I have quite a large number of articles out there as well), and we're usually happy to have them re-published (usually without compensation)--so long as permission is asked. So Ms. Griggs could have avoided all of this by simply approaching Ms. Gaudio and asking her whether she could use the article--but instead she pulled her extremely patronizing attitude of entitlement.

Honestly, Judith, you should be "happy" with all the "free publicity" your "editing prowess" has generated.

Posted by: FAC33 | November 5, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse


Actually, TheCuriosity is correct - this is an issue of copyright, not plagiarism, at least in the case of Ms. Gaudio.

While Judith Griggs apparently lifted many other articles without attribution, in Ms. Gaudio's instance, her name actually appeared as the author. (I'm sure that's how her acquaintance knew to contact her - her name was on the article.) No one at Cooks Source was claiming to be the author of the article.

Since the article had a clear copyright statement, then Ms. Griggs needed to get permission to use it. Especially as Cooks Source accepts advertising dollars as a for-profit publication - they ostensibly made money from Ms. Gaudio's work.

Others are researching the issues of Cooks Source online and finding that many of the articles are lifted without attribution - those original articles have indeed been plagiarized. Or, as the writers at "Smart B****es, Trashy Books" have said, Cooks Source "Griggs'd" them. From their post at

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 a**hat behavior.

Example of usage: “Why’d you get an F on that essay?”
“I griggs’d the professor’s doctoral thesis from her website, and I even cleaned it up for her and told her she should give me an A, but she failed me anyway.”

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | November 5, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Eathen33 | November 5, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

This woman has no idea just how much trouble she's in, does she? Wait until Martha shows up on her doorstep testing the edge of a cleaver on her thumb.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | November 5, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

The editor's obtuse response is one of the the worst things about this situation. But a lot of people seem to think that because it's "free on the Internet" it's "free to use." I work in a public library, and I spend a lot of time working with teens and young adults on this issue. Ignorance, not malice, is usually the culprit--even among adults.

I recently blogged about ways bloggers, photographers and other content creators can protect themselves from theft:

If you have some other ideas or thoughts about how bloggers and content creators can defend their work, I'd love to hear them.

Posted by: nataliebinder | November 5, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Judith Griggs has already moved the Cooks Source to Cooks Source Mag on facebook...

I'm sure she'd be disappointed if we didn't all visit...

Posted by: johnvandermyde | November 5, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Las Vegas Review-Journal actively pursues what it believes to be copyright violations through it's parent, Righthaven, LLC. Righthaven, which usually has hundred of lawsuits active, usually wins in the courts.
Turns out to be a huge revenue source to the newspapers. The Vegas papers actually hope that their stories get copied and re-posted.

Posted by: MRGB | November 5, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how this is different from the Huffington Post and many other "news" sources. Please explain.

Posted by: DrBones721 | November 5, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D., please next time could you register your comment in English? I'm not certain gibberish can be copyrighted.

Posted by: beertourist | November 5, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It would be helpful if you wrote in actual sentences. What is it that you were trying to say?

Posted by: chirping | November 5, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It would be helpful if you wrote in actual sentences. What is it that you were trying to say?

Posted by: chirping | November 5, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Try as I might, I just can't feel sorry for Judith Griggs.

I went to the Facebook site and left a comment. Then I went to the Columbia University Web page for donations and made a $10.00 donation to the School of Journalism in Monica Gaudio's name. It's the least a fellow blogger can do.

Griggs was wrong to steal the intellectual property of another. Anyone with 30 years of journalistic experience, even if they are unaware of the copyright laws, knows that you shouldn't take what isn't yours without permission.

But her e-mail to Gaudia smacked of that old arrogance where men blamed women after they were raped (she was asking for it!). Then, she expected compensation from the writer. This transcended copyright infringement, this smacked of bullying, entitlement, and frankly, sociopathy.

C'mon. We have to have some standards. Plagiarism is wrong.
Bullying is wrong. It's as simple as that.

Posted by: chelle1 | November 6, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Griggs was unprofessional. That is obvious.
Did she violate the copyright. Yes.

Did she admit the error and apologize? No, she posted an arrogant and condescending reply suggesting that she should be thanked for her action. THAT is why the collective has heaped unrelenting condemnation on her.

The internet is an untamed beast. "When you jerk a tigers tail you had better have a plan for dealing with it's teeth."
(I got that from a Tom Clancy novel, don't recall which. Figure I better give credit so I don't get myself in trouble.)

Posted by: brg626 | November 6, 2010 2:37 AM | Report abuse

Well somebody doesn't know a good $130 deal when they see it, and apparently wasn't paying attention in law school.

Posted by: gpsman | November 6, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

It's cyberbullying; no matter what the offense, it's not OK.

Posted by: ms_grundy | November 6, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

@Ms_Grundy: Is a massive letter-writing/phone call campaign regarding the same type of incident considered bullying too? Just because social media tools like Facebook and Twitter make it easier for people to hear about and respond to an egregious series of infractions doesn't mean people are cyber-bullying the editor by posting negative comments on the magazine's FB page. Nor is it cyber-bullying to express outrage and/or disgust to the magazine and its advertisers via FB posts, Twitter, email, or phone calls. It doesn't somehow become cyber-bullying when thousands of people participate instead of a few dozen.

Yes, there are some people who used rude language in their comments. That doesn't automatically equate to cyber-bullying. Twitter accounts mocking or pretending to be the voice of Cooks Source were engaging in satire, not cyber-bullying. And it didn't take a hack or a "bomb" campaign to crash the magazine's site - there were enough angry messages sent without malicious intent by real people upset by the editor's behavior that any small magazine's site would have given out under the strain.

The simple fact is, this matter happened to draw an unusual amount of attention due to a couple of serendipitous blog posts and tweets. The editor was unlucky there. However, just because the matter quickly captured a lot of the online public's attention and resulted in a very public collective tongue-lashing of Ms. Griggs and her magazine, it doesn't necessarily follow that she was bullied by online hooligans. I tend to think of it as 30+ years of karma suddenly beginning to catch up with her. Judith Griggs' real punishment will begin when Disney, Food Network, Martha Stewart, and all the others whose articles were used without permission or payment send in their respective lawyers.

Posted by: ToninaMDC | November 6, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to similar levels of outrage being levelled at anyone caught downloading music, movies, software etc. illegally

Posted by: TheEponymousBob | November 7, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse


Bullies and other people who are engaged in abusive behavior usually feel justified. For instance, the teenagers who bullied Phoebe Prince online and in real life were doubtless deeply offended for reasons that we adults would consider trivial.

Yes, mobbing someone with telephone calls is abusive, as are anonymous letters.

Posted by: ms_grundy | November 7, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

This my friends is the way Judith Griggs roles. Should something come of this and old writers and employees be interviewed they will all say the same thing. What surprises me is the magazine folded in the late 90's and when she brought it back to life she had the same core advertisers. She has a fantastic idea for a business, it satisfies a niche locally, but as before Judith Grigg's personality always gets in the way.

Good luck Monica Gaudio! I hope you pursue this and receive a just reward.

Posted by: julie34 | November 8, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Even "reputable" sites like have done stuff like that. They are using four of my photos and have ignored my e-mails requesting compensation. They lifted them right out of my FB albums and even left my watermark for all to see!

I guess the next step is a Certified letter.

Posted by: jgmann | November 9, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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