Thursday, November 04, 2010

Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism--Potaytoe, Potahtoe...

Well, not exactly potaytoe, potahtoe, but copyright infringement and plagiarism are close relations, like first cousins.

The ongoing local plagiarism issue isn't done yet, and I'm following it with interest because, really, if a judge can say that when he wrote what he did, even if it was copied from another source without attribution, and that he did so without "malicious intent", and get away with it without punishment, then that opens up an easy excuse for anyone to copy anything. We may soon be hearing a lot of stuff like:

"Yeah, I copied the lyrics of his song, but I had no malicious intent."

"So I copied his poem for homework, but I really had no malicious intent."

"I copied from a book by an author from abroad for my thesis, but I had no malicious intent."

"Yeah, I copied that piece of video scene-for-scene, character-for-character, dialogue-for-dialogue, for my own film, but I had no malicious intent."

Well, you get the drift.

For what it's worth, the judge in question's excuse was that one of his aides honestly forgot to put down the attributions, and frankly, this can happen easily, given the voluminous documents one has to handle everyday in the legal profession; but nevertheless, is that a legitimate enough excuse? For the Philippine Supreme Court, it is. For the UP law professors, a number of other legal personalities from abroad, a lot of people in the academe, and many, many creatives, it's not.

And now, we have this: a case of copyright infringement abroad, as seen via the blog of illadore. An excerpt:

My 2005 Ice Dragon entry, called "A Tale of Two Tarts" was apparently printed without my knowledge or permission in a magazine and I am apparently the victim of copyright infringement.

The story:
I was contacted early last week by a friend of mine who lives in the Northeast about my "As American as Apple Pie - Isn't!" article that was published in Cooks Source magazine, mostly to inquire how I had gotten published. This was news to me, as I hadn't ever heard of this magazine before.

However, some basic Google-fu lead me to find them online and on Facebook. In fact, after looking at the Cooks Source Facebook page, I found the article with my name on it on on "Page 10" of the Cooks Source Pumpkin fest issue. (No worries, I have screencaps.) The magazine is published on paper (the website says they have between 17,000 and 28,000 readers) as well as being published on Facebook as well.

So. I first phone the magazine then send a quick note to the "Contact Us" information page, asking them what happened and how they got my article. (I thought it could have been some sort of mix-up or that someone posted it to some sort of free article database.) Apparently, it was just copied straight off the Godecookery webpage. As you can see from the page, it is copyrighted and it is also on a Domain name that I own.

After the first couple of emails, the editor of Cooks Source asked me what I wanted -- I responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism.

What I got instead was this (I am just quoting a piece of it here:)

"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!"
Whoah. Talk about 'tude. Head on over to read the comments in the entry.

So this is another case on something similar I'm following with interest.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what happens next??? Im interested on how you pursue this... may angas pa yung editor! hmp!

2:17 AM  

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