Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Biased Opinion - An Open Letter to Judith Griggs

I have no sympathy for you whatsoever. You brought this on yourself. And every time you open your mouth, you just dig yourself deeper into the hole. After your non apology received such a cold reception, you'd think you'd have figured out that the villain in this piece is you. But no, rather than face up to the fact the being a serial copyright infringer makes you the source of all the problems you have faced, in what can only be described as an act of colossal hubris, posted this whiny defense of and attempted justification for your sleazy business practices. (Note: Cooks Source's website appears to have gone dark. I can only hope that someone thought to mirror their whiny rant before it vanished for all time). Not only that, you attempt to blame Monica for your woes, when the person you really should be pointing the finger at can be found by looking in a mirror.

You say that the problem is that Monica Gaudio contacted you when you were traveling all day and you were tired and overworked. I'm sorry, but that excuse just doesn't wash. This was not an aberration. Aside from your claim in your e-mail to her that everything on the internet is "public domain", and she should pay you for your slapdash editing hack job, it has become clear that misappropriating Mrs. Gaudio's work was not a mere oversight, but just one instance of a standard business practice for you. At this point, you have no credibility, having thrown it away by your repeated transparent lies and attempts to evade responsibility. You aren't even a very good liar, as evidenced by the fact that you've been caught red-handed in so many of them. Your attempted defense about "how" the article came to be in your magazine is laughable at best given the clear pattern of infringing that you have engaged in - and exposes that you remain ignorant of basic copyright law because copyright attaches to a work the instant it is produced, regardless of whether there is a copyright notice on it or not. Unless specifically noted otherwise, all work is copyrighted. I also find it amusing that you claim you were too "bleary-eyed" to type in an article from one of the multitude of books sent to you (which would have been copyright infringement in itself), but you apparently considered yourself bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to "improve" Mrs. Gaudio's article with some editing.1 You further indicate you have no idea how copyright works by insisting that by leaving Mrs. Gaudio's name on her work you didn't "steal" it. But by leaving Mrs. Gaudio's name on her work you merely avoided plagiarizing it, by publishing it without her consent you misappropriated it by violating her copyright.

As with everything else in your letter, your additional attempts at justification and empty and hollow. Your assertion that other writers have written for you for free is meaningless - you didn't do them a favor, they did you a favor - you cannot compel someone to do you a "favor" by misappropriating their work. The fact that foolish organizations send you books and press releases doesn't justify lifting other material. In fact, unless they actually gave you permission to reprint their content, it doesn't give you the right to reprint their stuff in your magazine even if they mailed you a copy. I notice that although you offer as a defense that a mean nasty reporter who "grilled you seriously" (and with good reason) was shown all of these promo books, and clip art, and the allegedly mean e-mails that Mrs. Gaudio sent you, you don't indicate what his reaction was? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that is because he didn't accept these as any kind of justification for your sleazy, slimy, unethical , and illegal business practices and kept right on grilling you.

Your attempts to shift the blame for your troubles onto Monica Gaudino are odious. She did nothing wrong here. You claim she "blasted" you on the internet, but quite frankly, given your offensive conduct, she was quite tame in her reaction. Once again, your assertions about how she "didn't give you a chance" just don't carry any weight. You've got no credibility left remember? And as Mrs. Gaudio has been more than willing to put all of the exchanges she has had with you on the record, it seems that you've been caught in yet another lie. Your repeated plaintive whine that you paid her as she asked is particularly offensive, as it is clear that you only actually offered to pay her as a desperation maneuver to try to save yourself after it was clear that you were caught stealing from her and the personal consequences you would suffer as a result of being caught stealing were going to be unpleasant. The problems your magazine has had, and the supposed negative consequences your advertisers have suffered, have as their genesis only one source: You.

You complain that this has forced Cooks Source out of business. I can only say: Good. The world will be better off without a magazine that seems to consist primarily of misappropriated content run by a sleazy editor who thinks that she has the right to misappropriate other's work and then has the temerity to complain when there is a backlash against her misdeeds. You seem to think that by running a commercial enterprise you are somehow providing an irreplaceable public service. The simple truth is, your fly-by-night operation could probably be replicated easily if there really is a need for it, and by people who aren't crooks. Given that you misappropriated material from so many organizations, I suspect that you aren't going out of business because of the opprobrium you've received from irate netizens, but rather because of the mounting tidal wave of legal action you probably face from places like NPR, Food Network, and Disney.

You cannot shift the blame for this onto Mrs. Gaudio, or the evil denizens of the internet, or anyone else. The blame for all of the troubles you complain you have had heaped upon you since this whole fiasco began rests upon your head, and your head alone. The troubles you allege have been faced by your advertisers are because they associated themselves with your slimy publication. The communities you say you are so concerned about will suffer, to the extent that the loss of a business built upon criminal practices will cause them suffering, because of your actions. In the end, you are going out with an unconvincing, self-serving whine that is unlikely to convince anyone that you are anything but a thief who is only sorry she got caught. The only thing we can be certain of is that you are really only sorry you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Quite frankly, the world is better off with your magazine out of business and you on the unemployment line. I hope you have an extended stay there, and never work in publishing again.

1 As an aside, despite your repeated assertions about how experienced you are as an editor, I am amazed at the volume of grammatical errors in the material that you have put up on your website. For example, I'm not sure what this sentence is supposed to mean, "[w]hen putting together a magazine, a publishing firm usually has a staff of many, a stable of writers and proofreaders. Cooks Source doesn't, it is just us two . . . and believe me we would if we could use more help." If this is an example of your crackerjack editing, then not only should you be forced out of business because of your sleazy ethics, but also because your editing work is slapdash at best.

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