Magazine Editor Steals Article, Admits It, Asks for Payment

I couldn’t resist it. The Gawker article or the pun in my subheading. Normally, I ignore the good old writer vs editor vs Twitter and Facebook trolls vs media snapshot thing. Or I read it, giggle, and move on with my real work. Today I couldn’t walk away from the trainwreck.  The editor for Cooks Source so brazen, the topic too juicy and, well, it’s Friday, I’m always down for a bit of fluff.

If you haven’t heard, Gawker has a fantastic post about a writer who found out her article was lifted from the original site it was published on and published in Cooks Source Magazine. The writer asked about the piece, informed the editor it violated her copyright and asked for a donation to the Columbia School of Journalism as restitution for the gaffe. I myself would have asked for my standard reprint rate to be deposited in my account, but I appreciate Monica Gaudio’s class.

Anyway, the editor writes back, admits the copyright infringement [corrected], says everyone does it, and that the writer should pony up the costs of having the piece edited. If I didn’t have to write this I’d still be on the floor rolling around in laughter. Now, I would post the entire piece from Gawker here for you to read, but I can’t because that would be copyright infringement [corrected]. So instead, I bring you a cited piece from Ms. Gaudio’s blog post: (see you just say where it’s from, link back and if you use it in a commercial magazine you ask permission and all that silly stuff…)

“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!”

I’m not sure if it’s the condescending tone or the insult of saying the piece was badly in need of editing or the tongue in cheek ‘very wealthy institution’ remark or the general “seriously?” attitude, but there’s something not very helpful about the customer service at Cooks Source. Unless this is an elaborate hoax, this is a fight I’m popping popcorn to watch.

For our esteemed FWJ readers, here are a few practical tips to keep you out of the legal fire. In fact we have a whole section about these types of issues!

A Word About Plagiarism

The 20 Best Free Anti-Plagiarism Tools

5 Content Theft Myths and Why They Are False

5 Simple Legal Mistakes Freelancers Commonly Make – How Ignorance of the Law Can Cause Big Trouble

This post was corrected from its original post date to reflect that the magazine committed copyright infringement because they did attribute the article to the original writer. They did not, however, ask her permission or submit payment before use.






9 responses
  1. Carol Avatar

    This one’s unreal…I’m definitely watching to see if there’s more fallout coming on this one!

  2. Hannah Conti Avatar

    Wow, bizzare. The old cliche is true: truth is stranger than fiction.

  3. Paul Novak Avatar

    Just want to amend my comment. Apparently the story has legs and everything that can be done is being done. Good for Monica Gaudio.

  4. MaryWitzl Avatar

    This really isn’t a hoax? Seriously? Actually, the more I think about it, the more I see that it couldn’t be. Because you can’t make up stuff like this.

  5. Robert Avatar

    The arrogance of this one is just staggering. I am definitely following this story. I just find it amazing that the editor steals someone’s work and acts as though they were doing them a favor.

  6. Gena Avatar

    Does this REALLY happen?? Why would any writer worth his/her salt publish anything worth the paper it’s printed on? Additionally, the editor at ‘Cooks’ should be fired. She was operating from a professional position and therefore should know better. Clearly she was not the professional of the two, however. Sounds to me like the editor is accustomed to thievery herself (she provided a little more information about herself than she had to) and has made the assumption that everyone else should accommodate her. What a crock!!

  7. Phil Avatar

    Hear that NPR picked up story, and issue has been resolved (writer was paid). However, I didn’t hear this myself, so anyone interested may want to confirm.

  8. Andreas Moser Avatar

    I will use this as an example for chutzpah from now on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.