Cooks Source‘s website shut down today, after two weeks of fending off an angry online mob over the unauthorized reprinting of an apple pie article. In case you haven’t been following, the Western Massachusetts-based food magazine lifted the piece from Gode Cookery without the author’s permission and without payment.
The writer, Monica Gaudio, wrote a LiveJournal post about it.
After the first couple of emails, the editor of Cooks Source asked me what I wanted — I responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism.
Some unflattering e-mails were reproduced.
“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!”
For a few days the internet went nuts; Cooks Source and their advertisers received hundreds of pieces of hate mail.
Yesterday they responded with a spectacularly grim screed.
“Having a black mark wont help…and now, our black mark will become our shroud. Winters are bleak in Western New England, and as such they are bleak for Cooks Source as well. This will end us.”
And it did end them; the site now redirects to Intuition. But everyone learned their lesson and no one ever plagiarized or wrote a nasty e-mail ever again. The end.