Simple, clear help for your writing problems

Perhaps you’ve heard of Cooks Source Magazine? Apparently, for some time they have had severe writing problems. In fact, Cooks Source Magazine’s writing problems are simply not forgivable.

Monica Gaudio Goes Viral

In case you haven’t heard, Cooks Source Magazine published an article lifted from Monica Gaudio’s web site. They never contacted Monica to ask permission, they didn’t offer remuneration, they simply published the article.

Monica found out about it when a friend congratulated her for being published. She contacted the magazine to inquire about how this could happen, and she eventually received a condescending reply suggesting several crazy notions:

  1. Monica should be grateful to have been published
  2. Monica is in debt to Cooks Source Magazine for the fine editing services they provided.
  3. Everything on the Internet is free to use in any way that anyone pleases; it is all in the public domain.

Monica reported this idiocy in a LiveJournal blog post titled Copyright Infringement and Me. The response has been cataclysmic for Cooks Source Magazine.

The Price for Stealing

Cooks Source Magazine’s Facebook page has been under siege by angry netizens who have left comments ranging from scolding to flaming. For most of the day after the story broke, the Cooks Source website was unavailable and Google listings for Cooks Source ranked national news sources reporting the scandal higher than the actual Cooks Source website.

The editor of Cooks Source apologized, which may weigh in sentencing after her trial. It seems unlikely any amount of apologizing will smooth things over—turns out Cooks Source stole and published material from many sources, and there will undoubtedly be lawsuits that Cooks Source can’t possibly win.

Lesson of the Day

And my point? If you’re going to have problems with your writing, choose wisely. Sprinkle in some typos, make some silly spelling errors, use words that don’t mean what you think they do, mangle grammar, but please don’t steal material from others.

If you don’t know whether the material you’re thinking of copying is in the public domain; if you don’t know whether someone holds a copyright for it; assume that it’s not up for grabs! You can write about it. You can quote from it with attribution. And, perhaps best of all if you’re publishing online, you can embed a link to it so people can click through and read it for themselves.

Really, if you steal and publish other people’s articles, we shouldn’t be talking about writing problems. We should be talking about problems with your character and with your understanding of intellectual property law.

Please visit all or some of the following websites to read more about Cooks Source’s inexcusable transgression:

Lift a Blogger’s Post? But Honestly, Cook’s Source, You Can’t Do That

The Cooks Source Scandal: How a Magazine Profits on Theft

Cooks Source Magazine Oddly Not Media-Savvy

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One Response to “Cooks Source Magazine and the Most Unforgiveable of Writing Problems”

  1. By Sandra McKenzie on Nov 7, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve been a writer, both freelance and on staff, for more than 25 years now. Every single client I’ve ever worked for – magazines, newspapers, websites, educational software producers – has had an inviolable condition: you plagiarize, you’re fired. There’s no defence. And that’s exactly as it should be.

    I live in fear of inadvertently plagiarizing anyone, not because it’s a firing offence, but because self-expression is my stock in trade. If I have to steal what I sell, then I had best look for another line of business.

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