Cooks Source 'Apology' Really A Rant Blaming The Woman It Copied For Daring To Tell People

from the not-very-convincing dept

It appears that Judith Griggs, the editor of Cooks Source magazine doesn’t quite understand when to stop digging. As you probably already know, Griggs was the editor who simply copied a bunch of online stories into her magazine, and when confronted about it, not only declared all of the web as the public domain but told the complaining woman, Monica Gaudio, that she should have paid Griggs for all the hard editing work she had done. Over the weekend, we saw that Griggs had given an interview where she said she was likely to shut down the magazine, but still seemed to be playing the victim.

She’s now posted a “final goodbye” message on the Cooks Source website, which is incredibly passive aggressive against Monica. It goes back and forth between apologizing to Monica and blaming her for Cooks Source shutting down. It suggests that Griggs still has not come to terms with what happened here. Not that I’m one to complain, as I make this mistake frequently, but the entire letter starts off with a grammatical error, using “its” instead of “it’s.” I know that happens, but for someone who claimed she was such a good editor, you would think she’d be a bit careful about that stuff. Anyway, here are some snippets from the letter:

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.

Note the use of the rather pejorative phrase “this woman.” And, again, note that rather than kick off with an apology, the letter kicks off with Griggs playing victim and giving excuses, while also complaining that Monica somehow hid part of the story. It doesn’t matter what nice things Griggs told her. The issue was her actual response to the situation.

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.

Still no apology. Still blaming Monica.

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.

If you’re not offering it as an excuse, then why are you offering it as an excuse? Also, I don’t think that’s what irony means. There’s then another paragraph where she complains that Monica called her late at night while she was in bed, and she didn’t have a chance to call back because she had to go off the next morning to deliver the magazines. That may be true, but the next paragraph is the real kicker:

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

I’m sorry, but that seems sort of rich, doesn’t it? Considering it was Judith Griggs who never gave Monica Gaudio “the chance” concerning asking permission to republish her work, and when confronted on it, never gave her the “chance” to get paid or even get an apology. And accurately describing what happened in their exchange is not “blasting” Griggs. It’s telling the world what happened. Griggs goes on to play the victim some more (so many angry emails! so many upset advertisers!) before again lashing into Monica:

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.

Her own agenda? And what might that have been? To stop getting Griggs to position her magazine as if she had the approval of writers whose work she just copied? It certainly wasn’t to get money, since all she wanted was a donation to a journalism school.

Anyway, finally, finally, finally, six paragraphs down — with much of those paragraphs spent bashing Monica — do we get an “apology”:

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).

Even in the apology she has to suggest Monica was wrong, because “I did a nice job for you.” Then Griggs goes right back to excuses, explaining how she regularly has authors who want to be included for free, and how she helps them out of the kindness of her heart. She then explains how “this” happened:

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.

You would think that someone who has already been told she doesn’t understand the basics of copyright law on the web would have taken some time in the interim to learn the basics. You don’t “notice” if something has a copyright on it. While that actually would be a better system, by now you should know that content, once published, automatically gets a copyright under US law.

She goes on to explain how this is almost certainly the end for Cooks Source, but that if she did go on, she’d hire a real editor. Then she concludes with one more attack on Monica:

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.

Again with the “giving a chance” bit. It’s kind of difficult to take Judith seriously when she didn’t give Monica much of a chance.

Monica, for her part, has done one final response, noting that she contacted Griggs five times before she posted her story — which she considers a reasonable “chance.” She also notes the snarky language that Griggs used in response to her requests.

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Comments on “Cooks Source 'Apology' Really A Rant Blaming The Woman It Copied For Daring To Tell People”

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64 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Seriously, I’m with you. We live in a world where Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, and Michael Vick are all making millions on our tv screens, and most people don’t care. Why? Because at one point or another, regardless of what else they’ve said, they showed a little humility and embarrasement at their own failings.

And, shit, Ray Lewis KILLED a guy….

Designerfx (profile) says:

karma's a biatch

I bet Griggs right now is reevaluating any employment options, because I can’t forsee Griggs getting herself a job anywhere involved in her current field, especially with all of this publicized.

she may as well have said “please blame the person who called me out for the downfall of a magazine” because it’s going to point pretty clearly at Griggs.

Anonymous Poster says:

Judith Griggs isn’t “sorry”.

Judith Griggs is “sorry I got caught”.

There’s a big, big difference. Until she learns it and stops acting like a petulant child who didn’t get her way – and thanks her lucky stars she and the rest of the Cooks Source staff aren’t embroiled in a few copyright infringement lawsuits – Judith Griggs will simply keep trying to play the victim to no avail.

She should have known better. She should have been a better editor. Now she’s got this hanging over her head like the Sword of Damocles, and she’s going to blame everyone else for that while ignoring the fact that she’s the one that stole content, showed a complete misunderstanding of copyright law, and acted like an entitled brat.

This situation is one of her own design. She can whine all she wants about it, but in the end, she has nobody to blame for this failure but herself.

In the words of Jigsaw: “Game over.

PKC says:

really talented journalist

The grammar and phrasing in the apology on cookssource.com is absolutely atrocious. Judith should take her new found free time and enroll in a college freshman level English class if she plans on staying in the business.
Someone please do her the favor of editing this and posting it on their own website, without permission of course.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Meh.

This is problem of the law, I think. Judith heard (correctly) that recipes aren’t covered by copyright. I’m guessing she thought she was in the clear for reposting recipe.

Now, there’s a point where ‘recipe’ ends and ‘narrative expansion’ begins. Judith obviously crossed that, and violated copyright laws in doing so.

And if you bore down to what was “taken” and what benefit anyone recieved, Monica seems to have done rather well.

Color me jaded.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Meh.

Even if she’d known that recipies aren’t copyrightable, there’s still the matter of her statement that “the web is public domain”, which shows a massive misunderstanding of copyright law. Given her (former) profession as a magazine editor, she should have known better.

Judith Griggs wants to play the victim when she isn’t one (the Internet backlash notwithstanding).

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Meh.

Agreed. We all must follow copyright law, because it is the law of the land, but we should acknowledge that it is broken. Griggs got screwed as much by bad (and unclear) law as by herself. This would be easier to see if Griggs’ stupid mistake was instead an act of civil disobedience, but Gaudio was not hurt by Griggs’ conduct, and nothing so terrible happened here to anyone. Gaudio’s moral rights were respected. It was only her monopoly on copying and publication that was infringed, and that monopoly is ill-conceived, badly motivated, and poorly implemented.

Instead of focussing on Griggs’ bad writing and attitude, we might point out that this fairly innocent act of infringement shut down a magazine. Copyright destroys progress in the useful arts, it does not ensure it.

lostalaska says:

Sociopath...

I’ve been following this story since the story hit the internet. First off, I got the impression that Cooks Source was just some local/semi-regional rag that this lady cut and pasted together herself. I didn’t really think there was much in the way of a staff besides maybe a few friends occasionally helping her and a little bit of advertising funding to cover cost of printing out her ‘magazine’ if I’m mistaken please let me know. My aunt was the self described ‘editor’ of two magazines a monthly 10 – 15 page newsletter for some nursing homes in the area. I was under the impression that Judith Griggs qualification for being the ‘editor’ of Cooks Source was basically the same.

As for her letters the only two I’ve read that appear to be confirmed as from her come across as condescending, all the while trying to play the victim, quite poorly I might add. She really comes across in her letters as some kind of sociopath that not only blames everyone else for her own ignorance, but is unable to see the point of this whole internet kerfuffle. Which just makes the rabid internet following this story froth at the mouth from the guile this woman has…

Wait just a tick…. Oh My God, I get it finally… she’s possibly one of the best internet trolls I’ve ever come across. Well folks, lets give a big round of applause for this weeks hall of fame internet troll Judith Griggs.

Vidiot (profile) says:

Forced excuses are worse than lame ones

I was once on a flight which was delayed for 90 minutes by an absent first officer. When the doors slammed shut and we were finally in the air, the PA crackled to life, the perpetrator himself at the mike. But instead of “I’m sorry…” or even “This is the first officer…”, he began a mid-sentence litany of excuses (5:30AM traffic jams, missed employee bus) so poor that it rivaled my 6th grade math homework stories. Never got the apology. And most of us missed our connections.Point: if you can’t simply say, “I’m sorry”, there’s some other sort of pathology at work there…

sehlat (profile) says:

Remember this about persistently clueless people.

The category “clueless” may, at times, include all of us, but it’s not persistent. I’m still trying to figure out why a VM sandbox I’m trying to build as a testbed isn’t working. But — I am aware I am clueless and am trying to fix it.

Persistently clueless people have the additional burden of being clueless about their cluelessness. La Griggs clearly falls into the latter category. And she appears to have made it so of her own free will.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

"FIN" indeed

Judith,

I’d be very in favor of the entire internet population going even further in vilifying you and roasting you up big-time…

…if I wasn’t even more in favor of you just drying up and blowing away. Forever.

You are too old for this new media business, and too selfish and conceited to just admit when you are wrong. That’s just one of the benefits of the Internet; it has a way of exposing the truly slow and ignorant, and boy did it expose you.

I hope you learn from this. I actually doubt you will, but I hope so. Just for shits and giggles, here’s what you should have done:

When Monica contacted you, and you were in effect totally busted, you should have written back:

“Dear Monica,

I must admit a complete lack of respect for your work and copyright. If I could offer an explanation, it would be that I was terribly overworked that week, and at deadline I made a poor decision to take a shortcut in order to get the issue out the door. I know this is not an excuse for what I did, but I’m asking you to give small consideration to this and forgive my actions.

I very much enjoyed your article; your writing is thoughtful and easy to read and I thought it would be a very nice piece to have in our issue. Again, taking it without your permission was wrong, but I would like to speak with you about using some of your work in the future with proper notice, attribution and payment.

I want to thank you for your kind offer to clear this issue up. I am glad to not only apologize to you but also to our readers for using your piece without permission. That is the least I can do.

I am also impressed by your selfless decision to donate the payment you rightly deserve to an organization that helps writers. I will gladly make the donation in your name, and I thank you for your generosity.

I hope this draws to a close our unfortunate first meeting, and that you are satisfied with my response. I do look forward to working with you in the future, and I wish you the best in the continuance of your writing career.

Sincerely and with Kind Regard,

Judith Griggs
CooksSource.com”

– I’m telling you Judith: If you had simply done that, none of us would have ever known who you were.

CBMHB

out_of_the_blue says:

A substitute for the "two minutes hate" in Orwell's "1984".

So you’ve wished ill to a woman you know only from your viewscreen, instead of focusing on those pesky TSA people or others of the *actual* police state. Strikes me as eerily similar in effect by relieving your pent-up anger on a target substituted in. — 2nd time, milking it, is what’s weird.

My other thought, not entirely contradictory, is that Griggs is probably just taking opportunity of the tax advantages of closing the business. Same will emerge soon with a different name and website.

Rose M. Welch (profile) says:

Re: A substitute for the "two minutes hate" in Orwell's "1984".

This guy is either a troll… Or he’s not and the world would be better if he (She?) were.

Out, high priority doesn’t mean only priority.

It’s okay for women to fight for equal pay in America instead of, or along with, fighting for the right to work in other countries.

It’s okay for students to fight for their free speech rights instead of, or along with, fighting for the right to an education in other countries.

And it’s okay for people to focus on this instead of, or along with, the terrible excesses of our national security programs.

Deal with it.

SLK8ne says:

She's sorry allright....

Yeah, she’s “sorry” alright.
From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sorry

sor?ry (sr, s?r)
adj. sor?ri?er, sor?ri?est
1. Feeling or expressing sympathy, pity, or regret: I’m sorry I’m late.
2. Worthless or inferior; paltry: a sorry excuse.
3. Causing sorrow, grief, or misfortune; grievous: a sorry development.

One is inclined to think Ms. Griggs falls under definition 2 for sure and possibly even definition 3. But most certainly not definition 1!

pclanguy says:

this is only one instance in a long list

If anyone has taken the time to pop around the net and look at the mass of sites and articles related to this, Ms. Griggs should run and hide as Monica was just the one that blew the whistle, not the only victim.

The best article I’ve read so far was by Edward Champion

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

I hope Ms. Griggs has a backup vocation. Here I thought they just ‘reprinted’ an article or two and she got called on the carpet. From the above article, they’ve ‘borrowed’ images, articles, and basically the bulk of their content. Granted that they had ‘some’ permissions but wow.

Maybe the RIAA is looking for an editor?

FattyCatty (profile) says:

Ms. Griggs' Misdemeanors

Boy, she really juiced the piglet with this stuff. Just as well the magazine is closing down. And why hasn’t anyone mentioned that (at least according to what I read previously) she had used other people’s copyrighted work in the magazine? This wasn’t just a single instance. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ms. Griggs' Misdemeanors

After reading articles and comments on this and other sites, I now completely understand why “hearsay” is met with skepticism in a court of law.

…and to think that the mob mentality began when a single individual threw a hissy-fit by taking a private matter and turning it into a public one.

FattyCatty (profile) says:

Reply to Anonymous Coward

Anonymous Coward, Nov 17th, 2010 @ 5:37pm
After reading articles and comments on this and other sites, I now completely understand why “hearsay” is met with skepticism in a court of law.

…and to think that the mob mentality began when a single individual threw a hissy-fit by taking a private matter and turning it into a public one.
=======================================
My previous post wasn’t based on hearsay, but on other people’s investigations. Go to the website mentioned below for more information.

From Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits at http://www.edrants.com/the-cooks-source-scandal-how-a-magazine-profits-on-theft/

[QUOTE]But a Thursday investigation revealed that not only is Cooks Source in the practice of stealing articles and publishing material without permission, but the magazine often pilfers the images which accompany the content. Such was the case with two entries stolen from the website, Simply Recipes. In Cooks Source?s July 2010 issue, the Simply Recipes entry on tandoori chicken was taken wholesale from the website, with the photo merely flipped over in print. (On the same page, a sidebar item on garam masala recycles text from the Wikipedia entry.)[/QUOTE]

Anonymous Coward says:

To be frank I see nothing wrong with what she did if it stopped at using the article or recipe.

The problem really is how she handled the whole thing, first I do believe everyone have a right to recognition, but I wouldn’t want a law for that, society can deal with that. Now when you come out as a jerk nobody is going to stand for you, have the lady just apologize and put credits on it I doubt this thing would escalate the way it did.

Craig says:

List of "lifted" articles...

At some point in thirty years of publication “experience” she surely must have known what she was doing was “wrong”.

I’d check with her past employers as to her duties and what her separation status was..I think that would be fascinating.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AmTaIPHPnkSedGFhbHo1d1FIR2oxNWJLaDZLeXhEVEE&hl=en#gid=0

joel goldstick says:

copywritten?

This story is really a riot. I noticed in the final message on the cooks source web page on intuit that the writer used the word ‘copywritten’. I’m not an editor, and I spell pretty poorly, but the root is ‘copyright’ as in right to copy. It has nothing to do with ‘write’. I am guessing the proper term would be ‘copyrighted’.

Yaro Kasear says:

Ms. Griggs' Misdemeanors

One does not need to register a copyright, not even to win an infringement lawsuit. All that accomplishes is establish a more clear proof that you are indeed the copyright holder. Under the Berne Convention, you AUTOMATICALLY get copyright in a written work once it reaches a certain length or it results in something significant or useful.

Copyrights are not like trademarks or patents. Where trademarks and patents require regisration with their respective authorities to legally be recognized, copyright does not. Further, if no copyright is explicitly invoked, along with no license, then it defaults to a “use with permission” basis of usage.

Because Monica did not explicitly use a license such as creative commons or any sort of share-alike license on her work, Gibbs did NOT have permission and therefore was not authorized to reproduce the article. Period. It doesn’t matter if Monica was throwing a “hissy-fit” or not. If anything Monica had legal justification to do just that.

To sum up, unless a work is explicitly licenced under “copyleft” such as the GPL (For software.) or creative commons (For any other kind of work.) you can’t touch things like an article without permission. Period.

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