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Monday, November 8, 2010

Patents, Trash Mobs, and Apple Pie

First a short note first on those who love Apple (no, not pie, computer) here.  If you like to guess what Steve Jobs is up to this site may be quite a bit of help...

But on to trash mobs and Apple Pie.  About five years ago Monica Gaudio wrote an article called "The Tail of Two Tarts" about the history of Apple Pie.  Several years later Ms Gaudio was notified by a friend that her article had appeared in Cooks Source - a for pay on-line and print publication.

The lifted article had appeared here, but now its no longer available at facebook - no doubt due to the pummeling provided by the trash mobsters.

According to this when Ms Gaudio contacted the Cooks Source editor, Ms Judith Griggs, this is the reply she got (she asked for a published apology and $130 to be sent to a specific charity cause):

“Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut oman 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!”

Well there you go!  Ms Griggs want's to be paid for editing the original article.  How nice!

The picture at the beginning of this article was taken from the Cooks Source facebook page.

It looks like its the result of a trash mob that has shown up to give Cooks Source and Ms. Griggs what for (from the Cooks Source "Wall" at facebook).

Well this is all fine and good....

But wait!  Not so fast...

What's this?  A parody of Ms Griggs (image at the top of this article, link to facebook here) superimposed on a "Dummies" book.  Now as far as I can see the "Dummies" book format is Copyright © 2010 & Trademark by Wiley Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Hmmm, it would see that not only Ms. Griggs is serious about considering the web to be "public domain" - apparently a "Maggie Gorn, whoever that is, also believes things like the "Dummies" model is public domain - unless Wiley gave her permission to doctor up the cover of a Dummies book as a parody.  (Though this is possibly a "fair use" case under copyright.)

To me the big to do here is a little like the pot calling the kettle black.  I scrolled through a bit of the trash mobbing of Cook Source and while there were a few like Maggie most just posted text comments on how vile and evil Cooks Source is.  Since I did not find the use of the original Tarts article in context its hard to tell if there was or was not an offense committed (perhaps it was parody as well).

Even more interesting is that at the site of the original Tarts article there are a number of pictures.  These are not links to other sites but actual images housed on "" - the place where the original Tarts article was published.

However, these have been taken (with credit listed as "Gathering Apples. From Tacuinum Sanitatis, Paris, 15th c.") from another original work:  the Tacunium Sanitatis, which is a physical book, that looks like this:

According to Wikipedia a whole series of these books was published starting in 1531 - several complete copies survive today as well as parts of others.  I imagine that the French library in which these reside owns the copyright to these books.

In the original "Tale of Two Tarts" an image from this book is used.

Did take these photographs themselves?

Was permission to use these gotten from their owners or copyright holders?

If not, how is this different from Ms. Griggs supposed offense?

While "trash mobbing" might be fun and even necessary in a case like this, everyone needs to be careful that they themselves are not guilty before casting the first stone.

EDIT: I posted a link to this on the Cooks Source wall...

1 comment:

  1. Parody is permissible under US copyright law. The books from 1531 are well beyond copyright.