File this one under "Easy ways to kill your career" and "don't mess with someone on the Internet."
Writer Monica Guadio wrote an article for the website GodeCookery several years ago. Recently, a friend discovered it reprinted in Cook's Source, a magazine "for food lovers in New England" and asked why she sold it to the magazine. Guadio hadn't -- the publication added her name, but she didn't authorize the reprint in the publication.
She contacted the publication's editor, Judith Griggs, to find out why her article -- renamed As American as Apple Pie -- Isn't! -- was published without permission. Among her requests? That she receive $130 for the article, donated on her behalf to Columbia University's School of Journalism.
Guadio posted Griggs' response on her LiveJournal account. She was obviously dumbfounded by the editor's smug and confident response.
The editor wrote:
"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 [sic] 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 [sic] 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!"
So, to sum up, Griggs knowingly plagiarized Guadio's article and said that it didn't matter because content on the internet is public domain.
Spoiler alert: It's not.
Anything you write is copyright-protected until you transfer the rights of it to someone else -- like if you write something for a publication and they pay you for your work. Guadio's work was copyrighted and Griggs didn't have the right to it, especially if she refused to pay.
Guadio's post went viral earlier today and it's spread like wildfire across the internet. The publication's Facebook page has been flooded with posts blasting the editor and Cook's Source for their blatant copying. Several businesses advertising in the magazine have already pulled their ads as a result, and it's likely the magazine will fold.
What's worse – Guadio isn't the only one with work plagiarized in the publication. Another Facebook discussion has popped up this afternoon with links to several articles stolen directly from other publications, including National Public Radio.
Uh oh, someone has some explainin' to do.
There's a valuable lesson in editor Griggs' actions -- don't lie, cheat or steal, especially at work. You will be caught and the internet makes it possible for millions of people to learn about your mistakes in a matter of minutes. Sure, it's an interesting trainwreck for others to laugh about, but this is a serious and real issue.
It's unlikely that Griggs will be able to find a job in journalism after this gaffe.
Moral of the story: Telling the truth might not always be the easiest (or fastest) way to the top, but it's the most rewarding thing to do. Hopefully Judith Griggs is learning that hard lesson now.
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