Cooks Source, a.k.a. Crook Source

November 5, 2010

On November 3rd Monica Gaudio told a story of copyright infringement and before too long news spread. To summarize, she wrote an article called A Tale of Two Tarts which includes a recipe for "A fourteenth century apple pie". A magazine called Cooks Source published Monica's article without her permission. The editor acted as though she'd done Monica a favor by publishing her work. Talk about audacity! All Monica asked for was $130 to be donated to Columbia School of Journalism, a printed apology in the magazine and an apology on facebook. She has yet to get any of that as of this writing.

The outpouring of outrage this incident has generated is a testament to the times we live in. People have shared their distaste for Cooks Source's actions on their facebook page. Someone even listed all of the magazine's sponsors and their contact info so that people can easily contact them to tell them that not only have they used Monica's article without permission, they've allegedly stolen other content from various authors including Food Network. The popularity of the #crooksource hashtag on twitter seems to have spurred a new domain, and has even inspired 3 haiku. It's interesting to watch the events unfold and see how public interest spreads.

As a blogger and one who blogs their own recipes I can imagine how upsetting it would be to have someone steal from you, especially for their own profit. Then to be treated the way Monica has been... Well, it's just downright wrong.

Over the last few months I've noticed many bloggers publish recipes usually with attribution to the original author but not always. I've often looked at it sideways thinking, "I wonder if they'll ever get in trouble for that." Most of the time, I'm sure the bloggers think they're doing the recipe writer a favor by publishing the full recipes on their blog. In some cases they probably even think, "Maybe people will buy their book/magazine because I blogged their recipe."

I can see why they might think that, but if you don't ask for permission it is stealing. That's all there is to it. I've mentioned many Eating Well recipes, but never have I copied one of their recipes and posted it on my blog. Mentioning them is okay, and linking to their recipes is okay too. Re-publishing their recipes would be wrong. It's that whole Golden Rule thing: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

More and more I'm noticing how very inconsiderate people can be. I try my best not to let it get to me, but it isn't always easy. This story is one I can relate to personally, though not for this website yet, but for other websites I've authored. I've had my writings "lifted" before without permission and it is infuriating – even more so when someone is making money by stealing from me. This topic is one which gets to me enough to take the time and write about it.

All of us (I'm not perfect) need to think more often about how our actions affect others. We need to put ourselves in others' shoes and ask ourselves, "If it were me would I be mad?" Granted, everyone has different thresholds for what they'll tolerate, so the Golden Rule should be only the first of other litmus tests. How about asking yourself, "Is there a chance that it might upset someone, even though it doesn't upset me?" and "Would it be more polite to ask first?" and even "Am I really doing them a favor?" or "Am I being selfish or inconsiderate in any way?"

Like a smile, kindness and consideration are contagious. Imagine for a moment a world with even 25% more generally kind and considerate people. Inspiring? I think so and hope you agree.

Last, but certainly not least... If you've copied someone's content and put it on your blog/website in the past without asking permission, fix it! You can write an apology to the original author for not previously asking and ask their permission now or you can remove what you've written and simply link to their content. If you've acquired music or software that you didn't pay for, stop using it or pay for it. Don't just say, "Oh well it's done now and it's been a long time and nobody has complained about it." Fix it. Do the right thing. (That goes for you too Cooks Source!)


December 5, 2010, 10:39 PM
David Peterson Harvey

She should contact an attorney about filing a copyright infringement suit. The mandatory minimum is much more than what she asked for as a settlement to the dispute.

December 5, 2010, 10:46 PM

She eventually got what she asked for, so I'm not sure if she can file suit at this point anyhow.

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