Plagarism make Mr. Bigglesworth Upset

And when Mr. Bigglesworths gets upset, PEOPLE DIE!

Anyway….

This news is actually a few days old, so I am late, but it’s worth discussing.

Monica Gaudio, food writer and owner of the website Gode Cookery, had an article lifted by a magazine called Cook’s Source, a regional publication in New England.  In short, it seems that the magazine found one of her articles on the internet and put it in their magazine, without either permission or compensation.  Ms. Gaudio found out about it in a roundabout way and made a reasonable request of Cook’s Source, regarding a specific donation in her name, as compensation.

The response from Cook’s Source was caustic, to say the least.  Here is a snippet of what was sent back to Ms. Gaudio from the publication, in response to her request:

… 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!

Wow.  You ever watch a movie where someone (usually a disposable member of the cast) is doing something incredibly stupid and you think to yourself, "I am watching the actions of an idiot.  This is not going to end well." ?  That was first thought on reading the above.

You can read more of Ms. Gaudio’s original post here.

To say that the general response of the writing blogosphere was swift and merciless would be understating it – on the order of magnitude of saying that Joy Behar is only a little bit annoying.  Author Nick Mamatas (former editor for Clarkesworld Magazine) penned a snarky post of the situation; Helena Bonham and John Scalzi weighed in, here and here, respectively.  That was nothing compared to the publication’s Facebook page, where the "editors" of Cook’s Source were treated like a side of ham in a pit full of wolverines.

The bottom line is that it’s bullshit.  Just because something is online does not mean is automatically in the public domain, to be used without credit or compensation.  And an editor claiming three decades of experience in the industry should a) understand that point, and b) know better than to be rude and mouthy with an author when they (the magazine) are clearly in the wrong.

As of today’s date, Cook’s Source has an apology on their front page and has closed down their Facebook link – and has, in general, earned themselves a crapsack reputation in the publishing industry.  Nice job, guys.

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