Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We All Make Mistakes - Showing Respect

I've really had copyright on my mind the last few days. It was prompted by a post I saw on FB. A woman by the name of Monica Gaudio was contacted by a friend who saw an article of hers in a small "on line" and "in print" magazine called Cooks Source. The friend was asking for hints on how to get published. Great, except Monica had never been contacted for permission by Cooks Source and was very surprised to find out it had been printed. To read her story in her words go here: http://illadore.livejournal.com/30674.html

Now, we all know this happens. Stuff gets copied all the time from the first school report copied directly out of the encyclopedia (ok, they didn't have computers while I was in school) to stuff going viral over the internet in minutes... like this one did. We learn as we grow what we are able to copy and what not to.

It would seem to me to be a no brainer when it comes to lifting an actual article from somewhere off the internet, you should obviously get permission. A writer and an artist has the right to have control over their work to a certain extent. And when your works stand the test of time, such as Shakespeare or Michaelangelo, even though out of copyright reach, would, if someone claimed as their own outrage the public no end.

Monica posted the above Live Journal post last Thursday about how her article ended up in a little known cooking magazine and that post has caused quite a firestorm. Why? Well, Judith Griggs, the editor of said magazine would have us believe it was because of an overworked mistake on the part of her staff. (I'm not convinced she really has a "staff", but that is my opinion only.) But no. When contacted about the article Judith wrote such a snarky response to the author that it was just not to be believed. (Monica includes it in her live journal post above.) In effect, Judith stated not only did she have the right to use that article, but that the author should be grateful and pay her for her editing efforts. Wow.

This touched off a rocket of indignation (even the Washington Post picked it up) that an honest to goodness editor with that much experience could actually believe any of the drivel she had sent to Monica in her email. People immediately started "liking" the magazine's FB page and commenting on what they thought of the whole fiasco. Of course, mob mentality took over. Some comments only showed the glee of pointing fingers at someone else. Some were very brutal and mocking. The more intelligent were actually researching past articles and posting links to where they came from, some even from the Food Network. People were split about 50/50 on whether to support the advertisers in her magazine or not. Myself, I hope the advertisers pull their money, not supporting a thief, and then I hope people support those small businesses like crazy.

Well, hopefully Judith has learned one lesson from this experience. Once your words are sent on the internet, even if you think it's a private email... those words are out there. They can't be brought back. I hope she's learned the following as well:

1) Just because something is on the internet does not make it public domain.
2) Old English is still acceptable on sites that deal with historical cooking. They don't need your editing.
3) While she claims she apologized to Monica, and sent the donation she requested, she maintains an air of superiority on her web site and does nothing to acknowledge the rest of the stealing. http://www.cookssource.com/
4) I hope she learns more about the internet. She refers to her FB page as being "hacked", not realizing that page is a public page, people can post what they want.
5) I hope she learns more about research, an important skill for an editor. Finding a phone number for FB shouldn't really be that difficult. Call the business office of the state where they are licensed to do business.

Now, we ALL makes mistakes. In reality, that IS how we learn. The point is to learn from the mistake, admit it, take action to correct it and move on. Don't try to deny it, make it look like you really knew what you were doing all along and are somehow superior to others. As artists let us respect others' work, it never hurts to even say, hey, this artist inspired me.  Lifting each other up can only enhance our own art and take it to new levels. But artist or not, let's hope we all learn a lesson from this about how words are on the internet... quite possibly forever.

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