According to Judith Griggs, the editor of Cooks Source Magazine, anything published on the internet is public domain and therefore free to be plagiarized or stolen. In fact, Cooks Source was only found out after a friend of writer Monica Gaudio noticed she had an article published in the New England area magazine.
Further contact between the two resulted in Griggs asking, “Well, it was on the internet. Didn’t you want it published?” and then later adding, “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!” Judith Griggs goes on to claim that rather than make a donation in lieu of payment, she should have been paid for editing the article.
When Monica Gaudio wrote a Tale Of Two Tarts and posted it online in 2005, she clearly identified at the bottom of the page that her work was copyrighted. The article is clearly written with the Renaissance period in mind, including some old time spellings from old cookbooks.
Although this is certainly the case that got Judith Griggs of Cooks Source Magazine caught, it appears that her entire magazine has been filled with articles lifted off of the internet. It is also alleged she has lifted articles from NPR, Food Network, Martha Stewart and Weight Watchers to name a few of the big ones.
What should everyone learn from this? Just because it’s on the internet doesn’t make it free. We writers are trying to make a living too, and for many freelance writers this is our only job. Make a habit of stealing our work, and we will make sure everyone else on the internet knows that you are a thief. If you see an article you’d like to use, contact the author to ask for reprint rights. Writers want you to use our work, but we want to eat too.
Most online freelance writers deal with accidental (or otherwise) copyright issues at some point. The initial contact is to inform the infringing person or site that this is not acceptable. In most cases, the person doesn’t realize what they have done is wrong. Feel free to link to my work, even include the first hundred words if you’d like, and make sure my byline is attached. If you want a full article, contact me, and I’d be glad to discuss rates.
For more information on the Judith Griggs and Cooks Source scandal, look in the resources section of the sidebar and the sources below.
NPR- The Day The Internet Threw a Righteous Hissyfit http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131091599&sc=fb&cc=fp
The Washington Post- Cooks Source Masters New Recipe-How to annoy the internet http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/2010/11/cooks_source_masters_new_recip.html