Detailed Insight into the Cooks Source Magazine PR Debacle

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Often, watching the Internet train wrecks is more entertaining than those things we typically do to entertain ourselves…

This week’s episode of Cooks Source Magazine is definitely entertaining… It is a gift that just keeps on giving…

As an online writer, I have experienced having my content outright stolen and plagiarized many times… So, I find myself taking great delight in this person getting smashed by the train of inevitability… In this thought, I am inspired to quote the Matrix movie…

Agent Smith: You hear that Mr. Anderson?… That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Anderson…

Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/quotes?qt0324266

The author of this dismal event, Judith Griggs, has thanked those of us who contributed to the viral nature of this story for all of the Free Publicity…

I must admit, that I have often suggested myself that “All Publicity is Good Publicity…”

In this case, I would like to suggest that this kind of publicity will be the death knell of any business embroiled in it… Therefore, publicity of this nature should be avoided like the plague…

Where It All Began…

The website Gode Cookery presented their readers with the article, “A Tale of Two Tarts“, copyrighted by its author Monica Gaudio in 2005…

During the last week of October 2010, Monica was contacted by one of her friends, who asked about her byline appearing in the Cooks Source Magazine… Her friend was interested in knowing how she was able to break into the print magazines as a writer…

Monica was also curious, since she had never before heard of Cooks Source Magazine

So she turned to Google for research, found the October issue of the publication online, and sure enough, her byline and her article were on page 10 of the October 2010 issue… (this issue has since been removed from the Internet)

Monica Gaudio initially assumed that a simple error had been made… Perhaps someone put her article into a free article directory or something…

If Only The Truth Were So Innocent…

Gaudio contacted the publication by phone and its websites’ Contact Us page…

The editor of Cooks Source Magazine (Judith Griggs) responded by phone, but found Monica not available… So she left a message advising that Monica should contact by email…

Monica notified the magazine of the unauthorized use of her article…

According to the Ed Rants article, Griggs replied by email, “Well, it was on the Internet. Didn’t you want it published?”

In the same email, Griggs asked what Gaudio wanted to do about this…

After that email, Gaudio contacted her friend Nick Mamamtas for advice… Mamatas advised that she should request a small payment from the magazine, for having published the article without permission…

Gaudio stepped up and took the high road… She advised the magazine that she wanted an apology on Facebook, in the print magazine, and a donation of $130 — not to her, but to the Columbia School of Journalism

Most editors caught with egg on their face would have considered this a more than equitable arrangement…

Cooks Source Magazine Responds

This is where the story goes Twilight Zone weird…

According to the original story on Monica Gaudio’s blog, the magazines’ editor Judith Griggs said this (spelling errors not corrected):

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!

Bizarre!!!

This is a “professional” print editor with three decades of experience, taking the position that all content found on the Internet is “free” of copyright protection, and therefore content that can be used for her profit, without notifying or compensating the author of the content…

Monica Gaudio had it right when she referenced the University of Maryland’s advice to students regarding Copyright and Fair Use considerations for Digital Content, which states:

{Editors’ Note: We placed the extra emphasis where the website said that the Internet is not in the public domain…}

Plagiarists Anonymous – 12-Step Plan

Here is a 12-step plan for duplicating the Cooks Source argument:

This Story Exploded On The Web

In fact, we have been trying to develop this story for the last 36 hours, and it has grown faster than our ability to keep up with it…

When we do stories like this, we like to be very liberal with quotes, links, etc.

But less than 48 hours after the story broke, there are 59,000 websites in Google talking about this story and more than 140 news articles on the topic…

We will never be able to link every angle on this story, although we are going to try to reference those pages that helped us understand the story…

After Monica told her story on her blog, her friend Nick Mamamtas, who she had gone to for advice, told the story on his blog too…

Then Neil Gaiman tweeted the story to his 1.5 million Twitter Followers…

Reddit user, GeekChic picked up the story and reported it on Reddit… So far, 1322 people have commented on this story at Reddit

The story caught fire at Twitter… The creative minds in the online writing community have offered some new names for the Cooks Source Magazine: Crook’s Source, Crock’s Source and Kook’s Source…

On Twitter, the name that caught the most interest was Crook’s Source, and now this story has its own Twitter Hashtag#CrooksSource You can keep up with the Twitter rage about CrookSource here… CrookSource also caught fire with its own domain coming online Friday…

Ed Rants also got involved in this story, tracking down and reporting many of the verified thefts of articles and images… This blog is also doing a good job keeping this breaking story up-to-date…

An important website in this story going viral was Smart Bitches Trashy Books, where they are less than nice with the words they choose… Be aware, a trip to any of Cooks Source Facebook pages will lead you also into an onslaught of curse words and ugly comments…

Cooks Source Magazines’ original Facebook page was quickly overrun with angry comments from pissed off people in the online publishing community and others who just smelled blood in the water… Thursday evening, Judith Griggs submitted a lame attempt at an apology on her Facebook page, when she posted:

Hi Folks!

Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Monica via email, but aparently it wasnt enough for her. To all of you, thank you for your interest in Cooks Source and Again, to Monica, I am sorry — my bad!

You did find a way to get your “pound of flesh…” we used to have 110 “friends,” we now have 1,870… wow!

Best to all, Judith

{Editor’s Note: All misspellings have been left intact.}

Monica says that she has not received any follow-up messages from Judith Griggs, so we must assume her original post shown above is what she is referring to as “her apology”…

All I can say is WOW!!

Her 1,870 “friends” at this point in time is quickly approaching 5,000 “friends” on her original Facebook page… LOL

And unfortunately for her, while the emotions may be cooling a bit, her troubles are just beginning…

The Truth Is That Her Legal Problems Are Just Getting Started

Some wise people realized at one point that if Cooks Source was willing to flagrantly steal content from Monica Gaudio, then perhaps she was stealing from others as well…

My oh my…

What Monica found was literally the tip of the iceberg…

You know what they say, “The part of the iceberg you can see is just a fraction of what is there… 90% of the iceberg is below the waves...”

It is kind of funny actually… The people who are taking down Cooks Source are doing most of their research and documentation from the Cooks Source Facebook pages…

This discussion got started on one of Cooks Source’s Facebook pages, and they were reviewing all of the back issues of Cooks Source in search of more stolen content…

Eventually, someone realized that they were gathering the evidence on Cooks Source pages, so their research may be deleted at any moment… In response, someone set up a Google Docs page, to track all possible stolen content by this magazine…

On Saturday, November 6th, at 8:30 am CST, there are 161 possible thefts documented… The possible theft of copyrighted materials include articles and images…

At about the same time this story got its own Google Document, it also got its own Meme

Within a couple more hours, this story had its own Wikipedia page

According to the Ed Rants story:

For every reproduction that I found, I made efforts to contact the original copyright holder. And the above examples demonstrate unequivocally that nearly the entirety of Cooks Source‘s material has been taken from other sources and that, in at least four instances, Cooks Source did not obtain the necessary permission to reproduce the material.

Cooks Source Damage Still To Be Felt by Cooks Source

One discussion page within the site gathered the names and phone numbers of all of Cooks Source advertisers during October…

The phone calls began…

The angry writing and publishing community were letting their fingers do the walking and their anger do the talking…

All of Cooks Source advertisers were suddenly inundated with email and phone calls from the Internet community…

Many advertisers apologized, and noted while they do intend on pulling their advertising from Cooks Source, most said they had pre-paid advertising for several months in advance…

I feel for those poor people who got involved with this magazine as advertisers…

They had no way of knowing what this woman had been doing to build her magazine…

Until this week, this woman had successfully dodged the scrutiny of many, including the major media companies whose work she had published, most likely without permission…

You can bet that the major media companies are not going to be asking for “a pound of flesh” or a measly $130 from Cooks Source…

The Hammer Will Fall

Silly Judith Griggs seems to have stolen content from companies who have entire legal departments that wait for something like this to happen…

Time Magazine has confirmed that The Food Network is investigating the wholesale copy-and-paste of The Food Network content into Griggs’ for-profit publication, including content from Paula Deen…

NPR confirmed in own of its stories that one of its articles was published by Cooks Source (although once again, Cooks Source has removed the offending content from its archives).

Content from Webmd appears on Cooks Source here and Webmd here

Other content that is suspected to have been swiped without permission comes from websites such as: Disney, Weight Watchers, Food TV, Martha Stewart, Whole Living, Recipes  Today, Natural News, and Sunset.com…

Who in their right mind steals anything from Disney? Disney will crush her like a bug…

Importance to Publishers and Authors

Publishers take note… All content on the web should be treated as if it does have copyright protection… Because in most cases, most content does have a copyright applied to it…

The articles that appear in The Phantom Writers Article Directory are Free Reprint Right Articles but they do retain their copyright protection. Publishers are invited to publish that content, so long as the Terms Of Reprint are honored in full…

Authors take note… Your articles do have copyright protections… In this section, I will show you where and how to enforce your copyrights online…

Since copyright offenses fall under federal protection, any copyright litigation must be argued in Federal Court… This is the reason big companies like Disney, NPR, Martha Stewart and WebMD are our friends in this case…

Without a doubt, copyright litigation is expensive, and most smaller companies cannot really afford to pursue the rogue publishers in court… But there is more than one way to bring a publisher to the negotiation table, and the easiest way is to let the publishers’ advertisers know the nature of the publisher, and its unwillingness to honor your copyrights…

Additionally, Internet companies takes DMCA complaints very seriously…

When I find a copy of my articles posted in violation to my copyright and Terms Of Use guidelines, I generally attempt contacting the webmaster first… I allow the webmaster that is using my content, in an inappropriate way, 7-days to correct my article or remove it from their website… 98% of webmasters will comply immediately…

If the webmaster ignores my request, then I go to the web hosting company and file a DMCA complaint… The web hosting companies do not want to be taken to task for allowing their customers to host copyright infringing materials on their website… The web hosting company will usually take down the offending page or close the offending web hosting account…

If the web hosting company refuses to take the appropriate action, you can always go upstream to the web hosts’ bandwidth provider, but that is painful and time-consuming to figure out who that is…

If you cannot get the appropriate action taken by the webmaster or web hosting company, you can file DMCA complaints with Google and the other search engines, and those companies will remove the offending websites from its index… In other words, Google will remove the offending website from Google’s search results, etc.

If you find yourself in need of an official DMCA Takedown Notice, go here and here… On the last link in the previous sentence, the author also advises how you can notify the advertisers of the copyright theft or plagiarism… In her example, the person who stole her stuff was using Google Adsense… She filed complaint with Google Adsense, and Google removed the offender from the Adsense program…

The point is that you should try to seek remedy directly for copyright theft and copyright infringement… But if the webmaster fails to take your contact seriously, you can hurt them in the pocketbook…

While speaking with the advertisers was not immediately effective in the Cooks Source case, Cooks Source will soon feel the pain of its bad decisions, because advertisers are wanting out of the publication…

If You Operate an Online Business, Honor All Copyrights

If you operate an online business, regardless of which side of the fence you sit, avoid putting your business in the line of sight of angry Internet mobs and attorneys enforcing Copyright Law…

Let Judith Griggs and Cooks Source be a lesson for you and your business…

Feel free to comment on this story below…

Article Written by: Bill Platt

Consider Bill’s newest Guide For Generating Traffic Online…

As you can see from this post, Bill never fails to fully document a story he is telling…

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P.S. New Words in the Lexicon

grigg – verb: (source)

1. To use content on the web without permission, then request payment from original author for rewrites and editing.
2. To remain ignorant of plagiarism, ethics, copyright, and asshat behavior.

crooksource – verb:

It is like outsourcing, but you do not pay for the content you use… And if caught, you claim that you have a legal right to steal the content…

More Resources for This Story…

This story caught some attention from the Mainstream Press early on, with stories in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and Britain’s The Guardian

The story has also been picked up by the New York Magazine, New York Times, CNN, Cnet, Forbes, Publisher’s Weekly, The Toronto Sun, Salon.com, and more local newspapers serving the area where Cooks Source is located, The Daily Hampshire Gazette and MassLive, western Massachusetts largest news website.

Cnet covered the story, because it is believed that the Cooks Source story is the reason why Intuit’s websites for small businesses server was brought down…

Other websites of note that covered this story include: Boing Boing, Slashdot, Gizmodo, Consumerist, Woot, About.com, TechLand, Gawker, MSNBC blogs, Tech Dirt, Daring Fireball, and PopeHat.

Time Magazines’ News Feed was able to secure an exclusive interview with Monica Gaudio on Friday…

Many of the following stories are an interesting read as well…

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