Cooks Source magazine vs. the Web


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Can every recipe or story you publish on the Internet be reprinted without your permission?

Cooks Source magazine in western New England has sparked the ire of a million bloggers with an e-mail purportedly sent by managing editor Judith Griggs claiming that everything on the Internet is in the public domain, and therefore is not copyright protected. Translation: The magazine believes it can copy and paste anything it find there -- your recipes, Los Angeles Times recipes -- into the pages of its own magazine and you can’t do anything about it.


A phone call and e-mail to Cooks Source were not immediately returned. So for right now, we just have this retelling of the story:

Food blogger Monica Gaudio found out that Cooks Source published a piece that she wrote about apple pie, but did not get her permission to do so. Gaudio contacted the publication, half expecting it to be some kind of unfortunate mix-up, and asked for a nominal sum of money as compensation. That’s when Griggs -- or someone using her e-mail address -- responded, blasting Gaudio for even raising the issue: ‘... 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 gets worse. The e-mail continues that not only would Gaudio not be getting paid, but that Gaudio should have paid her for the editing work she had to put into the piece.

If this all turns out to be as it appears -- remember, we’re still waiting to hear to hear from Cooks Source -- then Griggs really picked the wrong person to mess with. Check out the comments pouring onto the Cooks Source magazine Facebook page (But do not click if offended by the occasional four-letter word).

Here’s my question: Assuming Griggs actually believes what she wrote ... why would she actually put that in print?

Here are some threads to help you follow the unfolding controversy: Gaudio’s retelling: Copyright infringement and me; from How Publishing Really Works: Copyright Infringement And A Medieval Apple Pie; Nick Mamatas’ pithy putting-it-all-together; Poynter Online’s take and Boing Boing’s Today’s web justice driveby: Cooks Source Magazine.

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

File photo -- apple pie -- by Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times