Cook’s Source plagiarism fallout

A recent pilfering of a writer’s intellectual property has caused more than a bit of a stir in the online community. Response was so heated, in fact, that the guilty party, Cook’s Source Magazine, has ceased publishing as of its November issue.

The Story

The editor of Cook’s Source Magazine published a story in both the print and electronic versions of their magazine. But, as it turned out, the story’s author hadn’t given permission for Cook’s Source to publish the article. In reality, the author didn’t even know the article had been published until a friend asked her about it.

Apparently, the editor simply copied and pasted the article from the author’s website. The page is on a domain that the author owns and there’s even a copyright notice at the bottom.

Needless to say, the author wasn’t happy.

In a polite response, the author asked for two very reasonable things.

1. An apology on Facebook and a printed apology in the magazine.
2. $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism.

After a colossal blunder like that, one would expect the editor to humbly acquiesce to the author’s more than reasonable demands. Instead, the editor made it clear she would do nothing of the kind, claiming that she and her staff had to do so much editing to the article that the author should thank her for such a good portfolio piece.

However, the really frustrating part of the whole story is the editor’s assumption’s about things that are published on the Internet. Boasting that she had 30 years publishing experience, she actually claimed that the Internet was public domain.

As shocking as this story is, the concept of the Internet as public domain is far too pervasive. The fact remains that anything published anywhere has a copyright owned by its author until that author relinquishes their rights (usually through a transaction of money).

It doesn’t matter which medium is used (print, video, audio, Internet), a copyright is a copyright.

The Fallout

In this case, the general public rose to the aide of the offended author, filling Cook’s Source Magazine’s Facebook fan page with so many angry posts that Cook’s Source was forced to pull down their Facebook page.

Cook’s Source had worked hard to build their fan page to over 6,000 members and with one simple infringement, it was all gone. They appear to be trying to rebuild with a Facebook group, but I doubt it’ll work. After all, the third post is already a call to pick up the discussion where it left off on the old Facebook page.

In fact, because of all the bad publicity, the editor of Cook’s Source decided to pull the plug and cease publishing the magazine. The last issue was the November issue.

One of my favorite blogs is the Copyright Alliance Blog written by Patrick Ross. Here is his take on the closing of Cook’s Source and this whole series of events.

This story went viral on the Internet. Some video spoofs have recently appeared on YouTube…

One thought on “Cook’s Source plagiarism fallout

  1. Patrick Ross

    John,

    Great post, thank you for offering your thoughts on this eye-opening episode of copyright infringement and plagiarism. And thanks for the shout-out for our blog!

    Patrick

    Reply

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