Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Biased Opinion - Cooks Source Just Doesn't Get It

I have written previously about how Judith Griggs and Cooks Source misappropriated Monica Gaudio's article about apple pies and then Mrs. Griggs responded to Mrs. Gaudio's justified complaints by misstating copyright law, making an apologetic for plagiarism, and an obnoxious claim that she had "improved" the article with her unasked for editing and deserved compensation for that. Well, as one might expect, the internet dropped on top of Cooks Source and Judith Griggs, quickly overwhelming their Facebook page, inundating their advertisers with requests that they withdraw their support for Cooks Source, and uncovering multiple, repeated cases of Cooks Source lifting articles from numerous other sources and republishing them without the copyright holders' consent. Through all this, Cooks Source maintained a stony silence.

Well, today they finally issues what they probably think is an apology. (Note: Cooks Source has taken down their original apology and replaced it with an even sleazier "woe-is-me and blame the victim" post. A blog post by Lisa Gold that preserves some of the original apology text can be found here, and a humorous "corrected" version of the original apology that preserves all the original text in a roundabout way can be found here). I would call it a "non-apology apology". As with everything else that Cooks Source has done in this fiasco, they have shown yet again that they just don't get it. First off, the "apology" starts with four whiny paragraphs about how persecuted Cooks Source has been. That's right, the first thing they do in their "apology" to Mrs. Gaudino is talk about themselves and their trials and tribulations for four long paragraphs, including an appeal for people to "Report Abuse" to Facebook for people who have contacted Cooks Source's former advertisers. I'm not sure how they think that the "Report Abuse" link works on Facebook, but I'm pretty sure that they don't understand it. of course, this is the same crew that asserted that people who were posting negative comments on Cooks Source's Facebook profile were "hackers", so they clearly don't have a clue about much of anything.

After talking about themselves for a couple hundred words, Cooks Source moves on to "apologize" to Mrs. Gaudino, claiming that taking her article without her permission was an "oversight" resulting from overworked staff. Of course, the fact that they have been shown to be serial copyright violators makes that claim ring pretty hollow. Then, they try to cover up the fact that they were caught red-handed stealing Mrs. Gaudino's property by saying, "Monica was given a clear credit for using her article within the publication, and has been paid in the way that she has requested to be paid." This is like a thief offering to pay for stealing something only after he has been caught. Further, Cooks Source only paid up after attempting to stiff arm Mrs. Gaudino by asserting they were allowed to misappropriate her work. When a bank robber offers to give the money he stole back after he's been arrested, he doesn't get any praise, and neither should Cooks Source.

Cooks Source then announces that it is going to change its practices and actually follow copyright law by only publishing work that the original author has given them the right to publish. Then they try to weasel out of even that level of commitment by saying that they have a small staff and cannot check on every article and do the minimum amount of legwork checking to see if they actually have the right to publish something that every professional in the publishing industry accepts as the standard. They close with a mealy mouthed paragraph of whining about how this has damaged their business and a self-serving moan about how this has harmed their readers, all without admitting that the reason that their business has been damaged and their readers supposedly harmed were Cooks Source's own unethical and illegal practices. Their whining on this score is a little like a man convicted of murdering his own mother and father complaining that the judge is heartless for sentencing an orphan to prison.

Cooks Source finally closes by telling everyone to leave Monica Gaudino alone, although there has been no report that I have seen of anyone bothering her. They say she "did what she felt was the right thing", which is a long way from what she actually did - she did what actually was the right thing, and was far more tolerant of Cooks Source's illegal, unethical, and obnoxious behavior than they had any right to expect.

The end result here is that Cooks Source clearly still doesn't understand that what they did was not only wrong, but that it wasn't even a borderline case. They misappropriated property belonging to someone else, and when they came asking for a very modest amount as compensation for their misdeeds, they rebuffed her rudely. And then when this became public and they suffered in the shitstorm they had created for themselves, they had (and still have) the temerity to try to claim that they are the martyred victim. Through all of this Mrs. Gaudino has remained classy, for which I commend her. Cooks Source, on the other hand, has demonstrated that not only are they a sleazy and clueless organization, that they truly deserve the moniker "Crooks Source" that has been stapled to their foreheads.

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