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Cooks Source

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A Tale of Two Tarts is © 2005 by the author Monica Gaudio
Judith Griggs.

Cooks Source is a magazine that unilaterally distributes online recipes and tales to New England housewives. As printed media is far superior to online media, head editor Judith D. Griggs believed that it's the dream of every online writer to have their intellectual property printed in her magazine and that online copyrights were an old wives' tale told by DeviantArtists. Unfortunately, Griggs decided to lift the work of a very protective medieval cuisine connoisseur, and the fallout would tear a gaping hole in her business's public relations. Monica Gaudio asked Griggs to apologize and pay up, but Griggs decided to bite back instead. Griggs soon discovered that reparations would never be the same.

Arrogance personified

The stolen article.

Sometime in October / November, Illadore de Bedegrayne (Monica Gaudio) was shocked to learn that her "Tale of Two Tards" article was lifted from the open web and published without compensation or permission in the October 2010 issue of Cooks Source. Illadore contacted the magazine and requested an sincere apology and a donation of $130 to the Columbia School of Journalism.

Cooks Source editor Judith D. Griggs didn't take Illadore's demands seriously. According to Griggs, Illadore should be grateful. The Internet was there for her to harvest. In fact, Griggs claimed that Illadore should be paying her:

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!

Illadore wasn't amused, so she posted the incident on her LiveJournal for all the world's Anons to see. Anonymous was outraged. Griggs was stealing their work "ALWAYS for free" and profiting off of it. Anonymous couldn't let this stand, so a they declared war on Cooks Source. The news spread, and Cooks Source's Facebook page was littered with insults and complaints. cookssource.com was DDoS'd, and Anonymous flooded the magazine's advertisers with complaints.

Reaction

On November 9, 2010, Griggs posted an extremely long rant on cookssource.com:

We have cancelled our Facebook page on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 6:00PM. It has since been since been hacked by unknown parties and now someone else unknown to us has control of it. Their inclusion of Cooks Source issues and photos is used without our knowledge or consent. Please know that none of the statements made by either Cooks Source or Judith Griggs were made by either our staff or her.

We do not, and never have had a Twitter page, so what is attributed as our presence or our statements have nothing to do with Cooks Source or Judith Griggs.

We also cancelled our website on the above date, as our advertisers were listed therein, and with the harassment that has taken place on Facebook, we felt was unsafe for them.

Cooks Source will not be on Facebook again at any time in the future: hacking is too prevalent and apparently too easily performed by disreputable people. The email and Facebook abuse of our advertisers is the prime example: it is hurtful to people who are innocent of this issue, and can ill-afford the abuse -- either emotionally or financially. Small business owners are being bombarded with hate mail, and distasteful messages because someone downloaded their contact information on these bogus sites. These small business owners work very hard to keep their businesses going in a bad economy. We respectfully request this harassment be stopped immediately. If you or anyone knows of this abuse, you should go to the bogus Cooks Source (or other bogus pages) Facebook page, look to the left side of the page and press “Report Abuse,” or else go to How to Report Claims of Intellectual Property Infringement, http://www.facebook.com/legal/copyright.php The Facebook Corporate phone number are 650-543-4800, 650-853-1300 and 650-543-4811which hopefully will assist interested parties who feels these snipers who are perpetuating hate have gotten out of hand and want to report it. Interestingly, this phone number and any other contact info is not listed on the Facebook site, and has taken four people a number of days to track down.

Last month an article, “American as Apple Pie -- Isn’t,” was placed in error in Cooks Source, without the approval of the writer, Monica Gaudio. We sincerely wish to apologize to her for this error, it was an oversight of a small, overworked staff. We have made a donation at her request, to her chosen institution, the Columbia School of Journalism. In addition, a donation to the Western New England Food Bank, is being made in her name. It should be noted that Monica was given a clear credit for using her article within the publication, and has been paid in the way that she has requested to be paid.

This issue has made certain changes here at Cooks Source. Starting with this month, we will now list all sources. Also we now request that all the articles and informational pieces will have been made with written consent of the writers, the book publishers and/or their agents or distributors, chefs and business owners. All submission authors and chefs and cooks will have emailed, and/or signed a release form for this material to Cooks Source and as such will have approved its final inclusion. Email submissions are considered consent, with a verbal/written follow-up. Recipes created in the Cooks Source Kitchen are owned by Cooks Source and as such approval is given for chefs and cooks in our area to use them. Artwork used is created by our staff, or is royalty-free or purchased “clip-art.”

However: Cooks Source can not vouch for all the writers we have used in the past, and in the future can only check to a certain extent. Therefore, we will no longer accept unrequested articles, nor will we work with writers or illustrators unless they can prove they are reputable people, provide their sources, and who, in our estimation, we feel our readers and advertisers can trust and rely on for accuracy and originality. All sources will be listed with the articles, along with the permission, where necessary.

To say this has hurt our business is an understatement. But worse, it is harming the very people we are here to assist. Cooks Source’s is a small, free, local food newspaper-type magazine (called 'magazine' because it doesn't generally include what is known as 'news,') whose mission statement is to assist small businesses and farms in our area and help readers learn about sustainable food issues. We promote small businesses and farms in our area, offer recipes because our readers request them, and because we are offered cookbooks and excerpts from distributors, publicists, agents and authors, non-profits, ag organizations, chefs and home cooks so as to help them promote their works. Cooks Source is so named because it reports on food sources: the farms, the bakers, the chefs and the foodie producers and purveyors-- to the home and professional cooks and chefs in our area.

The misuse of Facebook discussed above also applies to Ms. Gaudio: she did what she felt was the right thing, and doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment, either. Regardless of what has been said, we liked her article very much.

On November 17, 2010, Griggs released her final statement on the site:

Its sad really. The problem is that I have been so overworked and stretched that when this woman -- Monica -- contacted me, I was on deadline and traveling at the rate of 200 mile a day for that week (over 900 in total for that week), which I actually told her, along with a few other "nice" things, which she hasnt written about.

I was stupid to even answer her that night, her email to me was antagonistic and just plain rude and I was exhausted. But I got suckered in and responded. She doesnt say that she was rude, she doesnt say that I agreed (and did) to pay her. It was my plan to contact her after deadline and have a good discussion about it. The complicating issue was that one of the businesses we worked with had closed without notice, just a sign on the door -- leaving several people, including a chef who had relocated to this area from Florida -- out of work. I do not offer this as an excuse, but that, when she wanted money for Columbia University, it seemed ironic because there were all these people in this small town going into the holidays with no jobs, and no, well, nothing.

I should add that this email exchange took place the day before she wrote her article for the world. After she (likely) received my email, she called the home office phone at 10PM, I didnt answer that late, was in bed as I was traveling again the next day (left at 7AM the next morning) to Connecticut, and didnt get back to her. This is not an uncommon practice with anyone, to not respond to a phone call for a day or two, it happens to me from other businesses, all the time. I came home that day from being in Connecticut to find hundreds of phone messages and emails telling me I sucked and was a dirtbag... and much MUCH worse.

I really wish she had given me a chance to respond to her before blasting me. She really never gave me a chance.

Since then, we have had so much hate email (over 400 pieces) , phone calls and regular mail. My advertisers too, have been so harassed that it has all muddies up the waters as to what the real situation is. I took the site downbecuase someone threatened to go to all the distribution spots and destroy the new issue, also to protect my advertisers.

Facebook has not responded at all; not taken these advertisers name off this bogus site -- or remove the site completely -- and takes no responsibility that someone unnamed can just create a page that can suggest that people -- and I am sure that in real walking-around reality you are all really nice people -- that people should email total innocent strangers and harass them to death. Honestly, some of you have been pretty mean. I have been busy for the last week, apologising to these business owners and helping them to get things right again. If my apology to Monica seemed shallow it was because I was angry about the harm she has inflicted on others on behalf of her own agenda.

So let me say this now: Monica I am so sorry for any harm I caused you. I never ment to hurt anyone, and I think I did a nice job for you, but the fact remains that I took this without asking you and that was so very wrong. Please find it in you heart to forgive me. I sent the check to the University and also, because so many people really need help, serious help, I am sending one to Food bank of Western Massachusetts (sorry, I got the name wrong the first time, even tho we did write an article on them).

This is how it happened:

When putting together a magazine, a publishing firm usually has a staff of many, a stable of writers and proofreaders. Cooks Source doesnt, it is just us two...and believe me we would if we could use more help. Consequently I do much, have a few stalwart writers who love to write (for free) and a number of publishers and book agents who send me A LOT of books, recipes, press releases, etc -- I recieved one even today. In the past I have also assisted budding writers with their writing skills and given them a portfolio piece they can get jobs with, from magazines and newspapers that will pay them. In short, we do a lot of good, sell a lot of books for authors, and help a lot of people.

But one night when working yet another 12 hour day late into the night, I was short one article... Instead of picking up one of the multitude of books sent to me and typing it, I got lazy and went to the www and "found" something. Bleary-eyed I didnt notice it was copy written and reordered some of it. I did keep the author's name on it rather than outright "stealing" it, and it was my intention to contact the author, but I simply forgot, between proofreading, deliveries, exhaustion.

Cooks Source for those of you who are not familiar with it, works with small food-oriented businesses and farms to get the word out on their works/products. We are about getting readers to get up and go to some of these places, because they are so great and so much fun. We write every month on over 20 + businesses and feature a town a month and all their good food and interesting shops. We cover 16 towns and villages in Western New England, every month.

The bad news is that this is probably the final straw for Cooks Source. We have never been a great money-maker even with all the good we do for businesses. Having a black mark wont help...and now, our black mark will become our shroud. Winters are bleak in Western New England, and as such they are bleak for Cooks Source as well. This will end us. In the end if we did keep going, I would (very gladly) hire someone else to serve as editor and just continue my work with the towns. You should know that I did have an interview last week and the reporter grilled me seriously. I was able to show him all the promo books and articles we receive, all the photos we take and the "clip art" that is free for everyone. I also showed him those emails...

Thank you to all our readers, thanks to all our advertisers and writers... and to everyone who has been supportive and who has been a part of Cooks Source. To one writer in particular, Monica Gaudio, I wish you had given me a chance.

Later, cookssource.com was taken down, several Facebook pages were taken down, and Griggs stated that the magazine would be discontinued. Morale of the story is: The Internet is more powerful that one may think. In the future, don't treat its users as if they were children contributing macaroni paintings to the "public domain."

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