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Cooks Source Magazine Apologizes — Sort Of 290

Posted by timothy
from the helping-budding-writers-everywhere dept.
taco8982 writes "Cooks Source has published a statement in response to the uproar over claiming the web is public domain a couple of weeks ago. While it does contain an apology, I'll leave it to individual readers to determine how apologetic it actually is." It also seems that the publisher has decided to cease publication entirely.
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Cooks Source Magazine Apologizes — Sort Of

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:03AM (#34253140) Journal
    Look I think the lady jumped the gun but I really got a good laugh out of this guy's line of excuses before actually getting around to apologizing.

    Its sad really. The problem is that I have been so overworked and stretched that when this woman -- Monica -- contacted me, I was on deadline and traveling at the rate of 200 mile a day for that week (over 900 in total for that week), which I actually told her, along with a few other "nice" things, which she hasnt written about.

    We're all busy, man. I slept four hours last night after spending dinner out at a birthday party and coming home to try to write 2,000 words for NaNoWriMo. If I now build a spider that scrapes all of cookssource.com and I offer it up in a torrent, are you going to excuse me because I was too busy at the time to realize that I was infringing on your work? Do you think that Monica f rollicks through the flowers all day long?

    She doesn't say that she was rude, she doesn't say that I agreed (and did) to pay her.

    Isn't that weird how people get rude when they unexpectedly find their work being used to sell magazines? And then when you say that you'll negotiate a price later you think they'd just clam up and be happy they even got something! Well, that's how your excerpt sounded, anyway. Look she quoted you as saying:

    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!

    Yes after that statement, it's clear you totally meant to pay her. So if she's quoting you out of context, why didn't you include excerpts from her initial contact to show how rude or out of line she was?

    leaving several people, including a chef who had relocated to this area from Florida -- out of work

    I am just sobbing with sympathy right now. Please, please take all my money and give it to this poor man who apparently made an imprudent relocation. Listen, my father has to go on unemployment from time to time ... so can I go around using New York Times articles to sell my magazine?

    ... when she wanted money for Columbia University, it seemed ironic because there were all these people in this small town going into the holidays with no jobs, and no, well, nothing.

    I don't care if she wanted the money for heroin! It's her work and you used it without her permission. You're exhibiting the attitude that cooks should not be reimbursed for their recipes! Then because she's using this money for college you hope to garner more sympathy because you live in a small town with high unemployment?! So by that logic, I guess Nigerian 419 scammers are saints?

    The bad news is that this is probably the final straw for Cooks Source. We have never been a great money-maker even with all the good we do for businesses.

    Look, you just outlined how poorly your operation is being ran and used that as an excuse to use other people's work without permission. Maybe it is time for you to move on to something else. It's nice that you are guilt tripping everyone into thinking that they were 'the final straw' to kill you.

    If you want to be in publishing, you should study copyright law. If you think copyright law should be different in regards to recipes and -- seemingly -- the internet, then you should become a lawyer and work to change that. You might want to take some business courses too if you think small magazines deserve to survive in this environment, maybe apply at Columbia University? br>
    Your proposition that "every time someone has a bad day, it's okay for them to use anyone's material online" is laughable and would result in pure chaos. Enjoy your own self-created chaos. You did it. You. Take some responsibility and stop whining with long drawn out excuses and guilt trips.

  • Re:rtfl (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:06AM (#34253156) Homepage Journal

    I just read the letter, and he sounds more like he's trying to blame someone else. Anyone else get the feeling?

    It's not an apology, it's an explanation.

    I just hope that the next enterprise this guy starts is noticed and watched carefully for the same shit. He's not likely to change his spots.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:17AM (#34253232)

    Thank you to all our readers, thanks to all our advertisers and writers... and to everyone who has been supportive and who has been a part of Cooks Source. To one writer in particular, Monica Gaudio, I wish you had given me a chance.

    The gaul of this woman to end her sorry-assed not-really-an-appology by once again blaming the woman she stole from. It also appears she lifted material from Disney, Martha Stewart and many others. Why isn't she blaming them?

    "If none of you had ever put stuff on the www's I would have never been so tired as to steal it and mock you when you called me on it."

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:20AM (#34253252) Homepage

    You're a publisher. You are in business. You publish a magazine. Thus you have a legal responsibility to understand copyright. You still don't get that taking something EVEN WITH THE AUTHOR'S NAME INTACT is copyright infringement, and that just because it doesn't say "DON'T STEAL ME OR I SUE YOU" it doesn't mean it's okay to pinch someone else work. You didn't ask, so you don't get. It doesn't really matter about offering compensation after the event because, by your own public admission, you did something that you shouldn't have. That author has the legal right to block your publication and do all sorts of nasties to you because of that. A lot of copyright cases end up with a financial settlement but that's not *required* or even *satisfactory* to resolution of a problem unless the injured party agrees to that.

    "I copied your article from the Times into my book word-for-word, but didn't bother to ask - sorry about that, here's some cash!" - it doesn't work like that, and if you'd asked, the author most likely would have been more than happy to let you have it (your name in a published book = wow) but equally they may be under some contractual restrictions regarding what they can do with that text, they may have licensed it from someone else. But you don't know because you didn't ask.

    Then you go and make an essentially naive and unresearched opinion that shows you've never understood copyright law (it doesn't need an attribution or even a copyright symbol to be subject to copyright). You don't immediately retract or explain. Admittedly then you are harassed unnecessarily because of a stupid quote that you stupidly said, but the core of the problem is that you're a publisher that infringed copyrighted content (as far as the world knows, because you've just admitted that). *That's* why advertisers won't want to deal with you, because you could be out of business tomorrow if it turns out that you've been doing it for years because you do not understand copyright law and finally it's caught up with you. It's not a big deal - even the big papers do it - there have been a couple of "whoops, we used your photo without asking" cases in the national press in the UK lately and it's ended up in court or in large settlements.

    The problem was not understanding the law surrounding the business you were in. The rest of the "admission" is just emotional padding to try to instil guilt. A lot of people are out of work at the moment, but nowhere near the most in history (and considering the population is ever-growing, that means this *isn't* the worst it's ever been by a long shot), and trying to push that angle is just crass. And we're not talking about someone who wants to bankrupt you, we're talking about someone asking for fair recompense for an infringing act that you just admitted you did.

    Nobody cares about the damn recipe, you just made a fool of yourself by not understanding copyright (and in your business, that's like a taxi driver not knowing what a brake is), and then propagated that by making hugely incorrect public statements and trying to paint people as bad.

    If you've gone out of business because of your own misunderstanding of a well-known law within your professional field, that's really your fault and no-one else's (and I fail to believe that this one incident is enough to stop the business unless it's through your own unwillingness to actually continue - you were already far, far, overworked but couldn't afford to hire help - sounds exactly like a business on the edge to me, and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back). In future, consult lawyers, don't make public statements, and learn how to do your own job - not painting everyone else as the enemy might help as well, also having a bit more of a steel jaw when it comes to random people on Facebook etc. commenting on you.

    I don't really care about copyright and have had websites that I've written stolen and copied byte-for-byte onto confusingly similar domains. I threatened too, and got them removed

  • by Ritchie70 (860516) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:20AM (#34253260) Journal

    I didn't pay any attention at all to this when the initial article went by, don't even remember it.

    I'm really confused by the Slashdot ethics sometimes.

    If the subject were copyright infringement of music, we'd all be in support (or at least sympathize with) the infringing party.

    But it's not, it's stuff off web sites, and we identify with producing that, so we think the infringing party is the evil doer.

    This is (was) a two-person organization putting out a tiny little magazine that was given out for free at the grocery store, so far as I can tell. Imagine your mom and her next-door neighbor putting out a magazine, assuming your mom barely knows anything about copyright.

    This lady assumed that if it's free to get it's free to use and free to redistribute. For people who aren't hip-deep in the thing, the Internet can definitely give that impression.

    Who makes up something as goofy as "the Internet is in the public domain" if they don't think it's true?

    Based on the statement/apology her little magazine was teetering on the brink already, and now it's toppled over it. It's more an amusement than anything to most of us - I mean, I find it interesting, but I don't think it's exactly a tragedy.

    I've had small businesses fail. It's like a death in the family. It's awful.

    For her, it's a tragedy.

  • Re:But but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by delinear (991444) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:25AM (#34253286)
    The whole reason we have copyright is because information wants to be free. If you could put your information out in the world and not have people want to take it away and do their own thing, you wouldn't need copyright. There's no conflict for someone to acknowledge information wants to be free AND that we need copyright (AND that current copyright is too far-reaching). Maybe in your mind everyone on the planet hold an extremely polarised opinion on every topic, but most people are realists and live with compromises (not to mention /. is a wealth of differing opinion, just because a bunch of people think there should be no copyright at all, doesn't mean you won't find plenty of people who think a reasonable period of copyright with fair use is bad).
  • by Skater (41976) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:31AM (#34253330) Homepage Journal

    Something else I've seen on /. (usually in regards to the CueCat): it's not my job to support a poor business plan. Failure is always an option in any business.

    And, frankly, I think you're wrong about the music thing: if someone was downloading rips of songs, burning them to CD, and selling them on the street or giving them away free and being paid by advertisers, most of Slashdot would agree that's wrong.

  • by Skellbasher (896203) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:43AM (#34253434)
    The internet detectives went back through previous issues and found that almost every article ever published in this mag was lifted from somewhere else. They never had an ounce of original content. All they did was take other's work and try to profit off it. Eventually they got caught. How anyone can feel sorry for them is mind boggling.
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:47AM (#34253462) Homepage

    Anyone who uses the phrase "copy written"* is unqualified to edit anyone else's prose. Ever. If you don't know the difference between "right" and "write", go back to elementary school until you get it... correct.

    *Unless they're using it in the sense of "to write copy (text), such as for an advertisement".

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:49AM (#34253492) Journal

    >>>selling them on the street or giving them away free and being paid by advertisers

    Yes we would. We don't have a problem with home owners "sampling" a movie prior to buying the DVD or CD legally. But we'd have a problem if they started profiting from the practice... that makes them a true pirate. Just like this "Miss Cooks" gal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:50AM (#34253496)

    I'm really confused by the Slashdot ethics sometimes.

    If the subject were copyright infringement of music, we'd all be in support (or at least sympathize with) the infringing party.

    But it's not, it's stuff off web sites, and we identify with producing that, so we think the infringing party is the evil doer.

    You need to be totally brainwashed by RIAA propaganda to have any confusion here.

    The original purpose of copyright was exactly to prevent commercial publishing houses from making large scale copies of copyrighted works, often for profit, it was never intended to prevent private copying for personal, non-commercial use.

    So, of course a sane person would be outraged at a magazine making illegal commercial use of copyrighted materials, but have no problem with individuals making copies of songs for personal use.

    Worst, the amount the magazine paid to the copyright owner is most probably FAR, FAR less that the statutory amount that individual music copier will face against RIAA. How many copies of that work have the magazine made, do you think they are paying _anywhere_ like a few thousand dollars per infringement (i.e. per copy) to the lady?

    If you do not see a problem with the current situation of copyright laws, you really are confused.

  • by imakemusic (1164993) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:53AM (#34253536)

    ...or there are two different arguments. As a musician, I don't mind if you download my music, however I would take exception to you claiming it as your own and publishing it for profit.

  • I didn't pay any attention at all to this when the initial article went by, don't even remember it.

    Awesome, then you're just as qualified to make judgements as the lady who stole the article is to decide what's public domain.

    I'm really confused by the Slashdot ethics sometimes.

    I'll give you a hint: There's more than one person on Slashdot.

    If the subject were copyright infringement of music, we'd all be in support (or at least sympathize with) the infringing party.

    But it's not, it's stuff off web sites, and we identify with producing that, so we think the infringing party is the evil doer.

    Although I have no doubt you could find someone on Slashdot that supports re-publishing someone else's music for their own financial gain, you might have a hard time finding two. Even stealing music for personal use is not exactly supported.

    This is (was) a two-person organization putting out a tiny little magazine that was given out for free at the grocery store, so far as I can tell. Imagine your mom and her next-door neighbor putting out a magazine, assuming your mom barely knows anything about copyright.

    This lady assumed that if it's free to get it's free to use and free to redistribute. For people who aren't hip-deep in the thing, the Internet can definitely give that impression.

    Who makes up something as goofy as "the Internet is in the public domain" if they don't think it's true?

    If that's honestly the way you think, you must get taken in a lot. "I didn't know I couldn't do that" is practically the International Order of Shysters and Crooks rallying cry.

    Based on the statement/apology her little magazine was teetering on the brink already, and now it's toppled over it. It's more an amusement than anything to most of us - I mean, I find it interesting, but I don't think it's exactly a tragedy.

    I've had small businesses fail. It's like a death in the family. It's awful.

    For her, it's a tragedy.

    Um, good? Fuck her? Also, didn't you just try to garner sympathy by claiming that it was given away for free at grocery stores? Was it a labor of love, a hobby, or was it a business? Because stealing is a lot less forgivable when you're making or even trying to make money off it, but having your hobby (where your hobby is stealing other people's work) shut down isn't quite the tragedy having your livelihood shut down is. You seem to want it both ways, but forgot to read your own post.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:54AM (#34253562) Journal

    Not the same thing.

    We don't have a problem with home owners "sampling" a movie via the net, and later buying the DVD or CD legally. But we DO have a problem if that downloader started profiting from the practice... i.e. selling bootlegs. That makes them a true pirate. Just like this "Cooks" gal.

  • by mooingyak (720677) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:01AM (#34253624)

    I'm really confused by the Slashdot ethics sometimes.

    If the subject were copyright infringement of music, we'd all be in support (or at least sympathize with) the infringing party.

    It's not confusing, and the position taken by many slashdotters is more consistent then you seem to want to think. The main distinction is what the infringing party does with it. Infringement for commercial profit (which is what happened here) is rarely if ever supported. Infringement for personal use is tolerated by some, rationalized by many others, and (though many pretend not to notice) villainized by a segment too. Additionally, if I think that *AA studies vastly overstate the effects of 'piracy' or that the awards given by some lawsuits are excessive and well beyond the damage done, it doesn't mean that I condone infringement.

  • Re:But but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ehrichweiss (706417) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:12AM (#34253732)

    "In early Christianity the Bible was written only in Latin"

    That would be the New Testament, the Old Testament was Hebrew, IIRC.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:14AM (#34253756) Homepage

    Yes, because DRM doesn't affect legal buyers of such products. Just ask the people who paid for AC2 when the Ubisoft DRM servers were down.

  • Re:But but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:17AM (#34253790) Homepage

    Information doesn't want to be free.
    People want other people's information to be free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:18AM (#34253804)

    If the subject were copyright infringement of music, we'd all be in support (or at least sympathize with) the infringing party

    So let's take an analogy (two, actually):

    Musician A puts his own sheet music online, musician B records it in a studio and publishes it on cd. When A hears about the song, he contacts B and asks for recognition (like "song 7 composed by A") and a donation to last.fm . B's response: F U, it's on the Internet so I may do as I please. A publishes B's response, and subsequently B's record company drops B.

    Programmer A puts his own minimal toolset (say, Busybox) online under a fairly permissive license. Powerhouse B includes the toolset in a product. When A finds out about the inclusion, he contacts B and asks for A to comply with the license. B's response: F U, that license is not applicable to us. FSF sues B on A's behalf, and wins.

    On which of those cases will /. side with B?

    But it's not, it's stuff off web sites, and we identify with producing that, so we think the infringing party is the evil doer.

    Ok, let's ignore the facts of the case (like the admission of guilt). Do you really think that /. identifies with content producers? Most of us are coders, not graphic designers or publishers. We would rather write a scraper/spider than our own content.

    This is (was) a two-person organization putting out a tiny little magazine that was given out for free at the grocery store, so far as I can tell.

    So that makes violating the law ok? Not only that, but does it also allow you to insult the original artists when they contact you about it? If her initial response had been a little more tactful, like negotiation instead of dismissal, this case would probably never have been published this widely, let alone force her to close up shop.

    Imagine your mom and her next-door neighbor putting out a magazine, assuming your mom barely knows anything about copyright.

    Then they shouldn't put out a magazine, and if they do, not act all high-and-mighty when they are contacted by a third party. Acknowledging a mistake goes a long way, especially when there are no profits at stake.

    This lady assumed that if it's free to get it's free to use and free to redistribute. For people who aren't hip-deep in the thing, the Internet can definitely give that impression

    Of course it can. That's why we have had a marketing campaign by the big media for the last 15 years two "educate" the public. Under what rock has she been living?

    Who makes up something as goofy as "the Internet is in the public domain" if they don't think it's true?

    Who knows and uses the term "public domain", and yet does not know anything about copyright? The two are intertwined: if you know what "public domain" means, then you sure as hell know what copyright entails.

    I've had small businesses fail. It's like a death in the family. It's awful.
    For her, it's a tragedy.

    I'm sure it is. Nobody is attacking her for going under. She's being attacked for the way she's dealt with the situation, probably because her attitude is typical of big business: "yeah we took it, but that's okay, we think we're allowed to".

  • Re:rtfl (Score:3, Insightful)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:28AM (#34253906)

    It was a pretty natural mistake, considering that the writer referred to the other party this way:

    this woman -- Monica

    Typical usage when you and your readers both aren't familiar with the person in question would be to use either their full name, or their last name and a title like "Ms." or "Dr.". Refusing to use the person's last name is a fairly typical tactic to try to diminish the authority of somebody who happens to be female. Essentially you are repeatedly calling attention to the person's gender, like you believe that is relevant information in understanding the situation. If you are a bit slow and aren't picking up that nuance, the "this woman" makes sure to beat you upside the head once with it.

    Of course either gender can be jerks like that, but it is pretty stupid to bring gender into it if doing so also hurts you (assuming it hurts anyone). So the natural assumption is that the writer was not female. Our bad for assuming intelligence out of somebody dim enough to get themselves into this kind of pickle in the first place.

  • No excuse (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @09:54AM (#34254264)

    This woman actually wrote: '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!'

    That is not a slip of the keyboard or a typo or a mistake brought on by fatigue or overwork. That is a basic mindset. There is no argument or essay long enough that could make it otherwise.

  • Re:And? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @10:50AM (#34254896) Homepage Journal

    The material was already mirrored on several similar sites at other people's request but someone just wanted to claim someone else's work as their own and thus ended up in trouble and getting shut down.

    I had the same experience about ten or so years ago. The worst ones kept the text intact except the copyright notice, and replaced my name with their own. In my mind, the pagarism was far worse than the infringement. I only wanted credit for the work I'd done, not money.

    I had literally dozens taken down, and the thing is, had they asked permission and given me credit and a link, I would have let them mirror it for free.

  • by drakaan (688386) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @11:35AM (#34255618) Homepage Journal

    Along those lines, my favorite sentence was this one:

    ...Bleary-eyed I didnt[sic] notice it was copy written and reordered some of it...

    The lack of understanding there is mind boggling. It's not surprising that she's non-apologetic if she doesn't understand the fundamental gap in comprehending copyright evinced by that statement.

  • Re:But but (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:51PM (#34258032) Homepage Journal

    Cory Doctorow has proven you wrong by putting ALL of his books online, for free, at craphound.com. He credits his status as a New York Times best seller to this. Nobody ever went broke from piracy, but many artists have starved (or gone into another line of work) from obscurity.

    If your logic were right, nobody could ever sell books to anybody but the library, since anybody can go to the library and read all the books they want for free, in the comfort of their own home. You can also get CDs and DVDs there as well.

    Had it not been for the free library, I would not have bought that shelf full of Asimov.

    One publisher who thought book piracy was costing him money commissioned a study to find out how much money it was costing him. Books usually take a few weeks to hit the internet, and when the study came back he was surprised and amazed that rather than a drop in sales, when the book hit the internet there was a sales spike. In short, piracy INCREASES sales.

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