Print editor tells web writer her work is “public domain,” suggests victim should pay for editing of stolen piece

There are full-time bloggers, and there are people who just write for the sheer love of sharing their knowledge, perspective or creativity on the internet.

One of the pitfalls of publishing your work on the web (paid or unpaid) is that the risk of having it stolen, misappropriated or otherwise reproduced to someone else’s benefit is rather high, and it doesn’t take too long to experience the joy of having your hard work lifted by some unscrupulous party for their own gain. A woman named Monica wrote a piece for a website about apple pies back in 2005- the kind of post you or I probably refer to a number of times in any given day.

Monica’s apple pie post was reprinted in its entirety by a cooking magazine, an instance that in and of itself is pretty galling, Monica, who is a better woman than I, found out about the article-lifting and requested very simple recompense. She asked for a print apology, a Facebook apology, and a small donation ($130) to the Columbia School of Journalism. The editor of Cooks Source replied graciously. Just kidding! She told Monica that she should be grateful the piece ran at all, and that Monica really should be paying Cooks Source for the editing work that had gone into her “Tale of Two Tarts.”

Monica posted a portion of the email sent by the editor of Cooks Source on her website- an email, it should be pointed out, that in and of itself does not seem to be very well edited. Below, the excerpt- can you believe the chutzpah?

“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!”

You can tell Cooks Source how you feel about bloggers being ripped off by their editor on their Facebook page.

Update: A Facebook page that logs suspected content theft committed by Cooks Source.

[Monica’s LJ via Consumerist]