Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Biased Opinion - Was Dairy Goat Journal Simply Not Paying Attention this Week?

After the huge blowup over Cooks Source lifting Monica Gaudino's article without permission that seems to have essentially ended that magazine as a functioning entity one would think that other publishers would have taken note and realized that taking copyrighted material without getting the copyright holder's consent is illegal, unethical, and could very likely get the internet angry enough to overwhelm your website and destroy your business. Apparently, this message didn't get through to some people, because Dairy Goat Journal has been caught red-handed by Suzanne McMinn in the act of misappropriating one of her photos for their magazine.

I'm not going to go over copyright law again, since I did it in the original Cooks Source post, and anyone who wants to can just go read it there. The only difference between Mrs. Gaudino's story and Mrs. McMinn's is that one concerns printed text and the other concerns a photograph. Copyright law doesn't make a distinction between the two, however, so Mrs. McMinn is entitled to the same protections and has access to the same remedies as Mrs. Gaudino. Thus far, Dairy Goat Journal has also avoided making the outrageously stupid claims that Judith Griggs made concerning the nature of copyright law and the internet, but they have come close to matching Cooks Source for rudeness when caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Dairy Goat Journal also didn't even bother to give Mrs. McMinn credit when they reprinted her work. One also has to wonder if, like Cooks Source, the Dairy Goat Journal has made a practice of lifting material without permission and without attribution. I am cynical enough about human nature that I consider it likely that they have.

Mrs. McMinn says she will sue Dairy Goat Journal if necessary. I hope she doesn't have to and that the magazine will do the right thing, admit their error and compensate her fairly (including additional compensation to make up for their misdeeds), but if they don't, I really do hope that she sues them into oblivion. Publishers need to get the message: you can't take people's copyrighted work without their permission. One would hope that this message would get through without having to make an example of a couple by destroying them via massive statutory damage judgments, but I am not optimistic on that front.

In the interim, I encourage anyone who has the inclination to send an e-mail to the editors of Dairy Goat Journal giving them a piece of your mind on this topic. Their e-mail address (from their website) is [removed, because they later apologized and compensated Ms. McMinn]. Maybe if they get a couple thousand angry e-mails they will figure out that what they have done is wrong and won't be tolerated.

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