Cooks Source Versus The Internet

Monica Gaudio was rather surprised when a friend wrote to her asking how she went about having her story — originally titled “A Tale of Two Tarts,” and curiously renamed “As American as Apple Pie – Isn’t!” — published in a New England-based cooking magazine called Cooks Source. Guadio, who had never so much as heard of such a magazine, decided to investigate. Upon finding that the magazine had lifted her original story without her knowledge or consent, Gaudio decided to write to them. After trading several emails, Cooks Source‘s editor finally asked Gaudio what it was she wanted. Simple, she responded: a public apology on Facebook, an apology in the magazine itself and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism in lieu of payment coming out to $0.10 a word.

The following is an excerpt of the response she received, posted to her LiveJournal:

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!

Gaudio’s LiveJournal readers, after gently picking their jaws off the floor, decided to demonstrate their displeasure at Cooks Source‘s actions by bombarding the magazine’s Facebook page with lil’ nuggets like “Cooks Source shot Old Yeller” and “Cooks Source wears shorts with black socks and sandals.”

Later, a post popped up on the Facebook page, seemingly from the magazine’s editor:

But it would seem that this post was yet another example of someone having a little fun with the folks at Cooks Source — it was the result of a hack. The magazine has since set up a new Facebook page, and a new warning:

Any posts considered libelous will be removed. Thank you to Christian for his assistance on the page mechanics. We shall be temporarily adapting the wall. Apologies to our regular fans.

And, in case you wanted to get all hung up on the particulars of “libel” and “copyright law,” Cook Source‘s new Facebook page also has a special message for you:

There’s lots of people here that do not seem to understand a few basics yet they seem to all be experts in the print business.

The magazine also posted that, no, it would not be stopping publication. And for those who are curious, yes, Cooks Source has stolen property and, no, that’s not quite how copyright laws work. Also, a gentle piece of advice: This is not the best example of how to use social media in order to connect to one’s readers… and one’s critics. Perhaps a little more listening and a little less talk of libel would be beneficial.