Cooks Source | Delivering homegrown justice for stolen content

Friday, November 5th, 2010 By

Apple Pie

The wholesale lifting of an article about apple pie has created a huge problem for "Cooks Source." Image: Flickr / avlxyz / CC-BY-SA

“Cooks Source” is, all things considered, a relatively small publication. The magazine is a Western New England foodie magazine that publishes free editions online, and until today it was a relative unknown. After being called out for stealing content, however, “Cooks Source” has become a poster child for internet writers justice.

The ‘Tale of Two Tarts’ in ‘Cooks Source’

A medieval cooking blog, is owned, operated, and written by Monica Gaudio. A few years ago, she wrote “A Tale of Two Tarts“, which explored the history of apple pies. Gauido recently discovered that for the “Cooks Source” Pumpkin Fest issue, her article had been wholesale lifted from her blog, without her permission.

‘Cooks Source’ gives the brushoff

When Monica Gauido found her article in “Cooks Source,” she contacted the editors of “Cooks Source,” requesting a public apology and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism. The response she received from “Cooks Source” has not only raised eyebrows, but raised the ire of thousands online.

“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!”

Needless to say, the response from editor Judith Griggs surprised the author.

The reaction to “Cooks Source”

Monica Gaudio shared the “Cooks Source” editor’s email with her social network online. Quickly, the reaction grew to nearly-epic proportions. Internet researchers turned their ire on “Cooks Source” and quickly found that articles in the magazine had been lifted wholesale from Food Network, Martha Stewart, Sunset, and NPR. Advertisers in “Cooks Source” have already been contacted, and pressured to end their business relationship. In short, the local food magazine “Cooks Source” is facing huge public relations issue. In an era where content is king, situations like the one for “Cooks Source” are most likely happen much more often than they are actually found. Do you think “Cooks Source” deserves to be lambasted for what they did, or did they just get caught in something many publications do anyway?


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This post has 2 comments

  1. LA Punk Photographer says:

    The only things I noticed initially, that is my first impressions, my gut reaction, my first thoughts about what this article was about were based on – The ‘Tale of Two Tarts’ in ‘Cooks Source’ – my eyes read that and saw the photo of the apple pie, and I thought THIS article was about apple pie. TALE OF TWO TARTS, definitely got my attention first, then the slice of pie. Tarts and Pie. Mmm.

    My basic animal instincts were drawn in. Sex and Food. You got me with those and I think I was expecting more about sex and food, but I was drawn instead into an interesting multifaceted debate here involving both the art world and the legal world. No sex and food? At first I was disappointed, like a despondent puppy staring at his empty bowl, but once I understood what the article here is about, I was hooked. Its interesting, its important, its a big issue in the world today, its bigger than a slice of pie, its about having some control over your creation on the web but also about how the web is dominated by amateur writers in need of some guidance.

    Turns out, its a very interesting topic and issue on the web, and in the world of intellectual properties in general.
    Whether its an article, or a photograph, or a video, or a song, the web is the wild wild west right now.
    I have had photographs used without my permission, more than you can even imagine, but that's another comment.

    The editor's response sounded like it was written by a lawyer to me, the writer's social media campaign results are epic. In short, for a lawyer it turns out this story is probably hilarious, the laugh til your side hurts type of hilarity. Oh, oh, oh, mannn. (Attorney's are wiping their eyes, faces in agony from laughing so hard)

    It will be interesting to see how the amateur writers and the advanced writers will do battle in the coming years.
    Both sides have valid points, and one side even has a hilarious legal argument. The dice are loaded, the die is cast, the hounds are loose.

    To the writer: The world is an asshole. or my alternate response: Until words can somehow be WATERMARKED, I guess we writers are screwed at the moment.

    To the editor: Everyone is a writer now, and everyone has a publisher. Brace yourself, this is only the beginning. You sound better suited to a career teaching english if there was money to made there,
    which apparently there is not. You should have asked kindly for permission to use and re-write the
    authors material (all of them), how good a writer could you be if you can't write all those basic articles
    yourself? Why not just whip them out yourself if you're so great at writing? Yes, most writers can benefit
    greatly from a good editor and usually a complete re-write, but we're all artists here, show some courtesy
    to fellow artists, however BENEATH you they may be as writers. Never offer advise if an artist has not asked for it, that's when you become a little obnoxious really. Those writers didn't ask you to re-write their material did they, nor did they give you permission to use their work to your own advantage. If you made any money off the
    media, there should be sharing involved, simple as that. If someone uses my work and makes money with it,
    I expect I should be paid for my photographs, so I understand the writers feelings here whether money was made or not.

    Writers are not the only artists being used discourteously in this way.
    Musicians,Photographers,Videographers are used to this stuff.
    photographers don't WANT to have to watermark photos, musicians don't WANT to post low resolution audio,
    but I guess compared to a writer, they are lucky to even have such options.

    I like the social media as mob justice concept. To me that's the theme of this article and something to ponder
    as well as the artists vulnerability on the web. The judges of the future will be social media in court, and
    they will never convict an innocent thief. This one turned out to be a SERIAL thief, but how much money was made actually here? Guess its the principle though. Doing what you will with someone elses intellectual property is a fairly egregious act on the one hand, while on the other hand, hiphop music would not exist for example, without the freedom to just make your art using whatever you want. The whole universe being your 'clay", what government agency has the write to dictate which clay you may or may not use from this rich and bountiful planet.

    Bravo for catching the serial thief and renegade editor. (shame on you, never give advise unless you are asked)

    Bravo for the renegade media heister educating the inferior writers. (shame on them, they should take an english class at jr. college for ten bucks, when did writing become uncool and why do most people suck at it?)
    Unless its just an attorney or clever scammer and not an artist at all, then BOO.

    Nobody is hurt, fun is had by all, and great debate is sparked.

  2. Stalean says:

    I'm really surprised no one has commented on your news of plagiarism, yet. I think it highly unethical for Judith Griggs to "lift" Monica Gaudio's authored piece from her own website, regardless of whether she so-called improved Ms. Gaudio's article. Ms. Griggs obviously did not take an ethics class in her education, but that doesn't really matter. We are taught in elementary school that plagiarism is unethical. Maybe the FBI should be checking for pirated music or films on her computer, too. And, no Ms. Griggs, not everything is public domain on the Internet. Really, are you that naive or just plain stupid?

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