Let me introduce you to Cooks Source.

It will be today’s Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Here’s the timeline:

  • Somebody wrote up a couple of medieval apple pie recipes for a website. Being a medievalist, this writeup included the original recipes, which means that they included the original spelling.
  • Cooks Source went onto the Internet, pulled the recipe, and printed it in their magazine. No, they didn’t get permission.
  • When the author found out about it, she emailed the magazine. Her – very reasonable – demand? Apologies on Facebook and in print, and $130 to the Columbia School of Journalism (well, it’s her call).
  • Instead, she got… this.

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!”

  • Remember: the original article had literal transcriptions of the original medieval recipes. Those were the targets of the rewrites, apparently.
  • Also, that ‘web is public domain thing?’ Umm… no. Just… no.
  • Alas for Cooks Source, the author is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. Which means that she is fully plugged into the geek community. Which means that this story got picked up all over the Internet (because geeks and members of the SCA can be found EVERYWHERE*).
  • Hi-jinks ensue. And ensue. Oh, how do they ever ensue.

And that’s how Cooks Source made a corporate poor life choice – and I’d like to note that while the specific details of this story are perhaps not as weighty as some, the point here is rather serious. This sort of thing is precisely why RedState requires that people reprinting articles from elsewhere reproduce only their own pieces (or pieces that they are explicitly authorized by the original author to reproduce); that the pieces be reproduced in full; and that links to the original be provided. Fair use is sometimes tricky, but respecting copyright generally means that you don’t have to worry so much about raising the ire of the entire online world.


Although the arrogance there certainly didn’t help Cooks Source much. “…you should compensate me,” forsooth.

Moe Lane (crosspost)



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