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Does Cooks Source Editor Claim Web is Public Domain?


IndyRob
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Cooks Source Magazine editor Judith Griggs apparently responded to a complaint of copyright infringement by claiming that everything on the web is in the public domain. It doesn't sound like a case of a recipe being lifted - for which there may be a defense - but an article. She was also apparently quite condescending in her response.

[update]

The reaction is threatening to become a bigger story. 'The crowd' is now using the Cook's Source Facebook page to finger other articles. These appear to include content from the Food Network, WebMD and NPR. But much of the reaction stretches to a dangerous extreme.

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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If the details of the story are true, it's quite shocking. That the editor even tried to make the case to the writer that her work was public domain - well, I can see why the writer is angry.

But I can't help feel that it does reflect quite a few people's attitude that things on the internet are free for the copying with or without proper attribution.

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But I can't help feel that it does reflect quite a few people's attitude that things on the internet are free for the copying with or without proper attribution.

This is what I find interesting in the general response. I've yet to find a comment supporting the magazine's position - despite going to sites where anti-copyright sentiment runs high. The 'doing it for profit' angle seems to completely nullify those sentiments. I don't think I've ever seen such a clear case of everyone - who understands what was infringed (many instances of the "recipes can't be copyrighted" arguments) - actually agreeing.

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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Having personally seen copy from news feed sources topped and tailed and printed complete with a journalist's byline claiming to have written the story, this story seems too close to real-life for comfort.

Edited to add. Having looked at one of the linked facebook pages above and the original recipe, the only original part in the Cooks Source recipe was that the subeditor changed the title slightly (probably to fit into the column width). The rest was just cut and pasted exactly as it appear on the other web page. Too lazy even to edit the content - at least we now know the source of the cook's source.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Wow, that's really crappy.

I've seen similar horrible things involving people searching on google images and assuming that anything that comes up can be used anywhere they like. We're talking on blogs, on websites, in newspaper articles, and I believe I've even heard of such images being used in books…

I mention it because there was a thread about it on another forum I go on and some of the people on the forum had actually personally experienced it. One described opening a newspaper one day and seeing the photograph she took staring her in the face. And this was in a very prominent national newspaper in India.

Edited by Jenni (log)
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As a freelance writer and editor this post is of great interest to me.

When searching for material on the net I always check first to see if the website is copyright. If it is I ask permission to use any material.

If I use recipes off the web I always try them first and make the necessary adjustments and if it resembles the original put 'based on'and credit it if there is someone to credit.

As for images, most are copyright, that is why I like Wikipedia as most of their images are free and of good resolution.

As far as I am aware you can quote up to 70 words from any text without permission as long as it is credited.

We are a not-for-profit organisation and I can't afford to land us with a court case, and from my perspective I would not be very happy to find my prose used without consent.

The subject is a minefield and it is about time some guidelines were drawn to cover the web so that it is properly policed.

Edited by Pam Brunning (log)

Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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This blog post from NPR written by Linda Holmes seems to be a fairly balanced summary of the situation.

So far, of course, it was still tough to know exactly what happened, because it was mostly Gaudio's story, and Griggs and the magazine hadn't really spoken. But, as it does, the online mob then went in search of other examples, figuring that if Griggs really believes the Internet is "public domain," why on earth would she bother obtaining content the old-fashioned way? . . .

They found items that certainly seemed to have originated from Martha Stewart, the Food Network, Weight Watchers ...

...oh, and NPR.

She ends on a voice of reason:

There's much about this that isn't known, and it's important to hold to your skepticism about some of what's happened since this turned into a meme . . .

Good luck with that.

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I'll be happy to heap scorn upon the offenders, and unlike most of the hysterics out there we here on the eGullet Society team have a long track record of standing up for intellectual property, but so far we are dealing with unverified claims. It sounds like the worst is probably true, but it's still premature to get spun up about it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I think it's already fully spun up. The stories seem to have become more about the reaction (internet justice) than the original offense. There's not much to write about on the latter if one side isn't talking. But one article I read (I can't find it now. It may have been the NPR one) tryed to imagine how all the effects could be possibly be undone if it were discovered that the facts were different than they seem. In a sense, I'd like to see what would happen if this turned out to be the case. But it doesn't seem likely.

A good account of one blogger's investigation.

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What an interesting series of events. I read this eGullet topic after dinner yesterday, and today saw this salon.com article. It's impressive how fast a cyber-lynch mob assembles -- I hope the facts are right.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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While I agree that we really have to wait for someone from Cooks Source to go public as to their side of the story in order to really know what is going on, I do find a few things interesting: (1) the original recounting of the story doesn't seem to be anything other than a reasoned, "here's the story" account asking for a very modest apology/minimal payment for use; (2)there do appear to be many other examples of material lifted from a good number of other sources without permission or attribution; and (3) the magazine has clearly suffered a huge blow in both business reputation and general credibility which will most assuredly hit their bottom line in terms of advertising, so why no public reply if this is all one huge misunderstanding? Suspending judgment, but all things considered, this really does not look good for them.

Does anyone else find it difficult to resist putting an apostrophe in the magazine's name? For all their claims of editing prowess, it does make "Cooks Source" the most ironic name possible.

Edited by ThatGrrl (log)
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There seems to be three different issues emerging here.

The first is blatant plagiarism which is (relatively) easy to prove and seems to be emerging as a fact in this case. There are sufficient balanced pieces and publicized examples to suggest that this has happened. This is an issue for many on this site and understandably disturbing.

The second is the editors (reported) reaction to being challenged on the issue. This is less hard to prove although because it was reportedly contained in an email, it too should be easy to verify. If true, this compounds the first issue because it highlights the wide gap between moral rights and what can be done to legally enforce them, particularly given a purported lack of professional journalistic integrity.

The third is the depth of the reaction. The term "Internet lynch mob" has been bandied around. Blog comments tend to be immediate, they tend to miss the self-imposed censorship that first draft emails often receive. Couple this with a generalized whipping up of emotions and it is easy to see why this has escalated so fast. As someone said up thread this is likely to turn into a case study for journalism students. Let's hope they learn something from it.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Cooks Source (no apostrophe) is acceptable if "Cooks" is adjectival rather than nominal. Much like how "Girls School" and "Ladies Room" do not always have the possessive "'s", especially when capitalized (i.e. when used as proper nouns).

Surely there are more egregious crimes committed by the publisher/owner of the magazine than that.

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Correct. There's no error.

It's also not plagiarism. Plagiarism involves representing someone else's work as your own. What these folks are accused of doing amounts to copyright infringement. They give attribution. They just don't seem to get permission.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It may be plagiarism. It is probably not textbook. To summarize, the links you gave point to two things: a single recipe from the Food Network, and an article from that magazine that includes the same recipe (retitled). You're not going to find a lot of people out there to say that copying a simple recipe is plagiarism (or a copyright violation). I happen to think it is, and have been arguing that point for years, but even I have to admit that it's not the mainstream view.

I think it's kind of ironic or at least amusing that so many bloggers are now in a high fury over issues of copyright and plagiarism. The best reason I can think of for this to be happening now, aside from herd mentality, is that here we have an example of print stealing from online and not vice-versa (which happens so much more often).

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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They give attribution sometimes, but not always, and it seems from reports that they never ask nor receive permission.

That being said, afaik, in the cases where attribution is not given, someone else isn't necessarily claiming to have written the article (i.e. there's no other author listed). In those cases, is it still plagiarism or is it something else? I have always thought that plagiarism is claiming someone's work as your own, but if no one is claiming it, then what is it?

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I agree. I think it's probably something else. Unless the point is that the magazine as an entity is the plagiarist. But that's not a conventional model.

It's an odd species: a cut-and-paste magazine.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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It may be plagiarism. It is probably not textbook. To summarize, the links you gave point to two things: a single recipe from the Food Network, and an article from that magazine that includes the same recipe (retitled). You're not going to find a lot of people out there to say that copying a simple recipe is plagiarism (or a copyright violation). I happen to think it is, and have been arguing that point for years, but even I have to admit that it's not the mainstream view.

I think it's kind of ironic or at least amusing that so many bloggers are now in a high fury over issues of copyright and plagiarism. The best reason I can think of for this to be happening now, aside from herd mentality, is that here we have an example of print stealing from online and not vice-versa (which happens so much more often).

More than the plagiarism or copyright infringement, either of which is sufficient cause for writers being pissed off, it is the magazine's reaction to the writer that has probably poured the gas on the fire. Haughty and dumb is not a good mix in an editor.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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