How Cooks Source Magazine Learned That Reputation Is A Scarce Good... As Reddit Applies The Social Mores Of Justice

from the reputation-is-a-scarce-good dept

One of the key points we've made over the years is that reputation is a scarce good, and doing something bad can be quite costly. In fact, in showing how social mores can often be much more effective than copyright laws in dealing with actions where someone is "wronged" by having their work copied in ways that appear to be unfair, we've suggested that social costs are a much more effective means of punishing those who do wrong.

As an example, check out this story, first sent in by slacker525600, but also submitted many more times, about how Cooks Source Magazine copied one woman's blog post and published it as an article, without asking her permission or letting her even know about it. They did put her name on it, but she only found out after a friend spotted it and told her about it. Where the story takes a bizarre twist is after emailing with the editor of the magazine, Judith Griggs, asked the original author, Monica, what she wanted. Monica suggested a public apology (on Facebook) and a modest $130 donation to Columbia's journalism school. That's when Griggs responded like this:
"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!"
That response not only shows a rather confused understanding of copyright law, but also suggests someone who's kinda sorta heard arguments about why copying can be beneficial, and jumbled them all together in her head. Now, we've spent plenty of time over the years showing how content creators can be better off allowing their works to be copied, but even so, Grigg's response appears totally tone deaf to what Monica's actual concerns were. But here's where social mores and reputational value take over. Monica's story made it onto Reddit and it got picked up by tons of others, leading the Facebook page of Cooks Source to be filled with angry comments from people supporting Monica.

And, just like that, Cooks Source (and Judith Griggs') reputation gets knocked down quite a bit. Reputation is a scarce good, and doing things that people don't approve of can come back to bite you.

There are a few other interesting lessons out of this. First is that, contrary to what some people claim, you don't have to be a "big name" to make these things work for you. People have a sense of when someone has been genuinely wronged, and they step up. So, Monica was able to get attention for this, despite not being "famous" in the conventional sense. Second, contrary to the claims that the various "online mobs" that hang out in places like Reddit "just want everything for free," various online communities have always shown a willingness to stand up against situations where they feel someone was genuinely wronged. And that should give you an idea of what they really think of various situations where some record label complains about file sharing. It's a totally different situation, and people react accordingly.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Just to add another reason this woman is a moron...

    "Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine....We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces...."

    Er, big deal, woman. You've been in the editing business for 30 years, so you should know that reading/editing fees by either agent or publisher go against every credible standard in the literary profession. For instance, to be a member of the AAR (for representatives), you must affirm that you will never charge reading/editing fees for writers. Publishers groups have that same standard.

    Which is one more indication that this horrible woman appears to think that she's better than everyone else for some reason, and she can rattle off what big shit she is and others will cower.

    Just be glad it was Reddit and not 4chan, princess....

     

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  2.  
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    Ruth Seeley, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:23pm

    Cooks Source

    Now of course if Gourmet magazine or even Cooking Light was on the editor's resume, someone might have been impressed by her qualifications and expertise. But if you've been working in magazine publishing for 30 years and you still haven't made it out of the small/regional/trade pubs? Calls for a career change, I'd say.

     

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  3.  
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    greenbird (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:23pm

    Advertisers pulling out

    Ummm...this didn't just harm their reputation, it pretty much demolished it. Someone published a list of Cook's Source's advertisers and they're getting bombarded. Some have already stated they're pulling their ads and I'm guessing all will eventually. At least one small business that had ads there said they were pulling the ads despite having prepaid for several months and were going to have to eat the cost.

    This has been picked up on Consumerist and Slashdot. They better pray the goons at 4Chan don't pick up on it.

     

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  4.  
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    greenbird (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Advertisers pulling out

    Hate to reply to my own post but it appears they're also finding hoards of other articles that were stolen by Cook's Source from a number of other sources.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Just to add another reason this woman is a moron...

    I didn't even get by the first paragraph without figuring out that this woman was going to be something worse than snarky.

    Then, of course, came the ignorant lecture.

    Just be equally glad it wasn't Slashdot.

     

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  6.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:31pm

    I read Mike's article quickly, so he may have mentioned it, but another lesson here is that copyright laws are unnecessary. Regardless of whether CS's actions were legal (and they clearly weren't), they got hammered extremely hard by the community. That is their punishment, and it will definitely be felt financially, as opposed to being sued in a court of law. (And the original author's compensation, as Mike did say, is the publicity.)

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    TeeParty Millionare Winner, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:33pm

    Let's set this woman into office!

    I like this woman! It's people like this that would dig a hole to China for more to develop more effective trade routes to save both money and time!

    Someone pack up the Bentley and pack it into the jet. Let's find her! We could definitely use her in 2012!

     

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  8.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Let's set this woman into office!

    Sorry, she wouldn't be a good teaparty candidate. As dumb as this woman is, there's no way she can compete in on the tard-o-meter with Christine O'donnell....

     

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  9.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    http://cookssource.com/

    Everything on their page is admittedly "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it!

    So feel free to do so.

     

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  10.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:40pm

    You know, I'm not the least bit surprised.

     

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  11.  
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    PRMan, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Just to add another reason this woman is a moron...

    "Just be equally glad it wasn't Slashdot."

    It was. And the site was down.

     

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  12.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Finding more reactions on the web:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    PRMan, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:42pm

    Re:

    What I am noticing is that this is true now, in our instant-worldwide-communication world. It was not true when copyright laws were written, however.

     

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  14.  
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    TeeParty Millionare Winner, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:44pm

    Let's set this woman into office!

    We need more damned determined thinkers like this woman to set our policy and agenda!

    On that note, I was talking with Charles the other day about digging holes to China, and he had a very interesting thought.... International waters begin 12 miles OFF of the coast.

    So if we can dig a hole DOWN to China for more effective trade, technically, it seems it would be US land only for the last 12 miles. Think of how fast we could deliver Chinese goods if it was subject to taxation 12 miles from anywhere in the US.

    Let's make this happen! TeePartiers Unite!

     

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  15.  
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    Ragaboo (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    Facebook page

    It was just mean to post that link to their Facebook page ;) Now it's overrun with people ridiculing the poor woman.

    Not that I didn't like/comment/unlike myself ... just sayin'.

     

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  16.  
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    seamonkey420, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Advertisers pulling out

    hehe, i love when 4chan gets a hold of these type of stories.

    hopefully i'll never be on the bad side of 4chan

    :)

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:03pm

    Re: Re: Let's set this woman into office!

    i always thought it was the teabag party. i must have mis-heard ;)

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Let's set this woman into office!

    I don't know. "I'm not a pirate, I'm you!" sounds like a good start for a commercial.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Let's set this woman into office!

    "I'm not a crook. I'm you." - Richard Nixon

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Frankz (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 3:49pm

    Monica should file a DMCA takedown notice with the magazine's ISP.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymoose (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 5:19pm

    It gets better....

    Looks like the initial attention has snowballed to reveal at least 14 additional instances of 'copy without permission' at the pub, including recipes lifted from Food Network, and additional writings (and photos) by other authors who haven't ever heard of the magazine..

    So there's a pattern of behavior, cementing the loss of reputation.

    (ref: http://www.edrants.com/the-cooks-source-scandal-how-a-magazine-profits-on-theft/ )

     

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  22.  
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    Blatant Coward (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 6:15pm

    This just in...

    Lawyers from Xerox are planning to sue Cooks Source magazine, Ms. Griggs et al.

    "Copying is our business and we are not amused by this amateur nosing into our business."

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 6:20pm

    waah, cry cry , they published my post and put my name on it, so I want an apology and demand you give money to 3rd party, uninvolved people.

    bleed much??

    she sounds like she feels "entitled", this blog does the same, post and link to other things, written, going on other places, etc...

    her response was perfectly acceptable, giving how Monica reacted to it

    do you seek for, and get permission to talk about every single post you do here?? really doubt it

    crying about plagiarizing?? they put your name on it, that isn't plagiarizing, seems like this twit just really wants more attention, now I just think Monica's an attention grabbing wh#re

     

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  24.  
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    Liz, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 6:52pm

    waah, cry cry...

    Ignorance at it's finest.

     

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  25.  
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    LumpyDog (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 7:08pm

    Re:

    Ms. Griggs? Is that you?

     

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  26.  
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    DougN (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Is that you Mrs. Griggs??

    You seem to forget... what is often done here is minor quotes and links, not a wholesale lifting of an article. And what is worse, Monica's site has a copyright notice posted on it.

    Now... in all honesty, I must admit, I personally know Monica. But given where all they are finding articles lifted from (major household names like Martha Stewart, Food Network, etc.), I would be very surprised if either the magazine or the career of the editor will survive what could have easily been avoided.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 7:38pm

    copyright is granted, when you fix it, not when you request it, so this site "lifts" copy righted material to have something to talk about, no different

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Ed Costello (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 7:58pm

    Monica should contact Right Haven

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    coldbrew, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 8:47pm

    Re: cowardly response

    I wonder if Masnick would take legal action against me if I were to compromise his site to get your IP address...You cause me to question the moral question of humanity. Seriously, you do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    coldbrew, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Re: cowardly response

    moral question - moral integrity

    ugh, going to bed now....

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Person, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 8:50pm

    Re: Advertisers pulling out

    first of all, 4chan doesn't have goons. That's something awful. Also, by my eye, this isn't lulzworthy enough for 4chan to do anything about it. Wrong sort of problem. Now if oprah gets involved somehow they might get in on it.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    dryfire, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 8:54pm

    Re: It gets better....

    It would be great if food network decided to slap them with a few DMCA take downs.

     

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  33.  
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    mrharrysan (profile), Nov 4th, 2010 @ 9:00pm

    Hah, a link to a Facebook page of all of their plagiarized content.

    http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=196994196748&topic=23238

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    SLK8ne, Nov 4th, 2010 @ 9:44pm

    Flatlining

    "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!"

    Really??? What? Did all the copyright laws get rescinded in somewhere? Was that hidden somewhere in the health car bill and nobody told us?

    The statement I quoted brainless comments I've ever heard. And it's hard for me to understand why anyone is defending this person.

    The whole web is public domain????? Geez, how ignorant can you get?

    But, the good news is that this should give hope to all the unemployed out there. You can have a complete dearth of decency and common sense and still be a magazine editor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Jay (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 12:12am

    I'm pretty impressed...

    They got owned pretty hardcore.

    Never EVER mess with the human flesh engine that is social mores.

     

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  36.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 12:39am

    Re:

    copyright is granted, when you fix it, not when you request it, so this site "lifts" copy righted material to have something to talk about, no different

    Uh, no, extremely different, and either you're unfamiliar with the basics of copyright law, or you're being willfully misleading. I will, occasionally, quote parts of an article -- with a link to the original, and I provide additional commentary around it, making it fair use.

    I have not, and never would, simply copy an entire article from another site, not indicate the originating source, and do so without permission and no additional commentary.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 1:07am

    Re: Just to add another reason this woman is a moron...

    "Just be glad it was Reddit and not 4chan, princess...."

    I think we can fix that...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 3:47am

    Re: Finding more reactions on the web:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    kb, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 5:31am

    Google results are interesting

    A search on the magazine name returns interesting results: a page full of stories critical of the magazine. None of the links on the first page of results were to the magazine itself. Stupidity pays big dividends, it seems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    matt, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Grammar and sentence structure

    I'm surprised that no one pointed out how the Cooks Source editor absolutely butchered the English language in her reply to the blogger. Her reply had all of the hallmarks of truly bad writing - comma splices, poor sentence structure, sentence fragments, ALL CAPS, and excessive use of exclamation points.

    This one really gets me: "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."

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Bethany Theilman, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:38am

    Re: Let's set this woman into office!

    Um. You are aware that if you go down 12 miles in most places you hit liquid rock? And further down liquid metal?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    I'm confused.

    Some people have advocated that everything digital automatically enter into the public domain or at least be sharable. They decry "permission culture." And in this case the author was given credit, so it wasn't like she didn't get credit. So isn't this the future? Seems like the main thing the editor did wrong was to assume public domain exists where it doesn't. But what if we eliminate copyright? As long as the creator is acknowledged, isn't this what we want to have happen?

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Brian Walsh, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    And now the Food Network is investing

    From Time magazine:

    "As for Cooks Source, they may soon have far more than one angry blogger - and her legions of fans - to worry about. The Food Network is now reportedly investigating numerous recipes that ran in Cooks Source, all identical to Food Network content."


    http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/11/05/exclusive-cooks-source-writer-marvels-at-the-nerd -rage-keeps-waiting-for-that-apology/

     

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  44.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re:

    I have not, and never would, simply copy an entire article from another site, not indicate the originating source, and do so without permission and no additional commentary.

    Would this also apply to things like lyrics, sheet music, and poems? Let's say I have a site that posts lyrics to songs. Let's say copyright is gone. Do you think that I should ask for permission from all songwriters before posting lyrics and not to post if they don't give permission? I'm curious in what situations do you advocate always obtaining permission and not using content if permission is not granted?

    If the creator cannot be found or contacted, should I avoid using his/her lyrics? To what extent should I try to obtain permission and at what point should I give up? And if I use the lyrics and then the songwriter objects, should I just take down the lyrics? What is the protocol?

    I'd like to see more guidelines about when permission should be obtained and how that might be accomplished.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Re: I'm confused.

    The outrage has nothing to do with WHAT happened, but WHY it happened.

    If the magazine editor had simply apologized, and acted like she was in the wrong, then this wouldn't have been an issue. However, she did this, then acted entitled to it (insultingly so).

    Likewise, when Jammie Thomas gets smacked around by the court, basically everyone will say that she's a complete idiot. We're outraged that she's being sent into a lifetime of debt, not that she was punished for breaking existing laws (even those of us who want said laws abolished).

    It basically comes down to: If you act like an idiot, don't expect sympathy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    Ooops, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 11:38am

    Nancy Griggs sounds a lot like Judith Pelosi.

     

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  47.  
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    Jennifer, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Her career is so over

    Now whenever you fail you just say "I just Judith Griggsed".

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    bob, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Re:

    Why are they unnecessary? Let's wait several months to see the results of the dust-up from the Internet flash mob. Did PirateBay or ISOHunt shut down after public shaming? Why should Cooks Source? As long as the readership continues to subscribe-- and why would they care about some fuss on a blog-- Cooks Source can keep on lifting content where ever and whenever they feel like it.

    Now if someone sues, that's a different question. But as we've seen from Jammie Thomas and others, the legal system can drag things out for years. Cooks Source can keep on publishing, even if a lawsuit is filed.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Linda, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:36pm

    Re: I'm Confused

    About ten years ago, I was trying to build a relationship with an editor of a technology magazine by submitting Microsoft Office tips. The tips were sent out in weekly emails and posted on the magazine's website. I wanted to submit articles to them (and get paid!). The editor had sent me several emails complimenting me on the tips.

    Then I got a strange one from him. He asked me if I had submitted the tips anywhere else. I hadn't and asked him why. Turned out someone had copied everything off his site, including my tips and posted it on another site. My name was on the site, credited for the tips.

    At the time I had about five tips in submission to tech magazine, but apparently I was officially on their bad list because of the copying. Not only did they not use any of the tips--where previously they had taken every single one of them--they never even contacted me again.

    All because someone copied my work and gave me credit.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    RockHound, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Let's set this woman into office!

    Technically, that would be solid, not liquid rock in the mantle. It just deforms like a liquid over geological timescales. And there are no giant voids filled with diamonds, like The Core tried to make us believe. After that you get into liquid metal, and then to a giant solid ball of mostly iron.

     

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  51.  
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    bugmenot (profile), Nov 7th, 2010 @ 9:38pm

    And now a "Downfalll" video about the affair.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
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    Noa, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Advertisers pulling out

    Too late. They already have.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Nov 15th, 2010 @ 3:15pm

    30 Years Editing XP...

    From the CooksSource Homepage:

    "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."

    Umm... Hey editor for 30 years, you might want to proofread that first paragraph...

    CBMHB

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Nov 27th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Reputation doesn't always work

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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