Wow! Sometimes an event happens that just makes you say "wow." A story began circulating the Internet in earnest this morning. It seems that a writer named Monica Gaudio was told by a friend that her article, "A Tale of Two Tarts," had been printed in a small magazine called "Cooks Source" (yes, there really is no ' in the name as they print it). Ms. Gaudio assumed it was an error and contacted the editor. What she was told when she requested an extremely reasonable 10 cents a word for the article be donated to the Columbia School of Journalism set off what can only be called an Internet firestorm.
According to Ms. Gaudio (no one seems to be able to reach anyone at Cooks Source since this story broke), she received an email from Cooks Source that said:
"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!"
Not only does Cooks Source misspell their own title and spout the most insane statement about "public domain" I have ever heard, they attempt to shame Ms. Gaudio for daring to expect payment for her own work. Then, to top it all off Cooks Source suggests Ms. Gaudio should pay them for editing her work (which by the way is another point of contention as Cooks Source apparently thinks quoted arcane terms are misspellings).
Now, what does this all have to do with photography? A LOT. Shortly after this response from Cooks Source started circulating the internet the collective forces of the world began bombarding the Facebook page of Cooks Source and have begun putting together a list of all the other articles Cooks Source has apparently copied without permission. This list includes a large number of photographs. Apparently, Cooks Source used whatever photos it found on the internet as freely as it copied articles.
Most of us don't have the luxury of the entire Internet coming to our aide when our work has been taken without permission but I have to admit, I'm enjoying watching the fire today.