Controversy continues over alleged theft of SCA member's article

Dona Illadore de Bedegrayne, mka Monica Gaudio, received a partial apology from Cooks Source magazine editor Judith Griggs, but the firestorm continued amid allegations (by others) of a pattern of bad behavior. A deeper apology followed, and Cooks Source has changed its editorial policy as a result of the incident.

The Cooks Source web site published the following apology as a part of a longer public statement:

"Last month an article, “American as Apple Pie -- Isn’t,” was placed in error in Cooks Source, without the approval of the writer, Monica Gaudio. We sincerely wish to apologize to her for this error, it was an oversight of a small, overworked staff. We have made a donation at her request, to her chosen institution, the Columbia School of Journalism. In addition, a donation to the Western New England Food Bank, is being made in her name. It should be noted that 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."

The Cooks Source statement (linked in full below) also indicates that the publication has removed their Facebook page, but that the then-unclaimed identity was taken over thereafter by parties unconnected with Cooks Source. They also allege that posts on Twitter attributed to them are not genuine, as they do not have a Twitter feed.

Cooks Source stated that they have made significant editorial policy changes as a result of the incident, including requiring release forms from authors and refusing unsolicited contributions:

"Starting with this month, we will now list all sources. Also we now request that all the articles and informational pieces will have been made with written consent of the writers, the book publishers and/or their agents or distributors, chefs and business owners. All submission authors and chefs and cooks will have emailed, and/or signed a release form for this material to Cooks Source and as such will have approved its final inclusion. Email submissions are considered consent, with a verbal/written follow-up."

The full statement is linked below, on the Cooks Source web site.

What started out as a dispute with a single author gained much broader attention as a result of Ms. Griggs' statement to Ms. Gaudio that Internet content was "public domain" (which is, of course, not correct). A blogger, Ed Champion, wrote an article entitled "The Cooks Source Scandal: How a Magazine Profits on Theft" that alleges multiple other copyright violations by Cooks Source and includes links to photos that Mr. Champion alleges were published without permission.

The controversy caused some advertisers to drop Cooks Source as a client, and the Cooks Source public statement describes "hate mail" and other abusive behavior directed toward them and their advertisers. Gaudio has asked people to follow the "Golden Rule" and not to boycott or otherwise punish the Cooks Source advertisers.

Ms. Gaudio's LiveJournal blog (also linked below) indicates that she has retained an attorney to advise her, but it does not state whether any litigation is contemplated. Her reaction to the public statement from Cooks Source was restrained:

"I have, in fact, seen the post on the Cooks Source page with the apology. I think that is about the best I am going to get. I am; however, completely unsure whether or not any donations were made either to the Columbia School of Journalism or the Food Bank -- but -- I have made some phone calls to look into it and I shall let you know, one way or another."

The controversy has caught the attention of national and international media, including PC Magazine, Slashdot, CNet, and even CNN's online news. National Public Radio reporter Melissa Block covered the story, and her article indicates that NPR itself had work illegally reused by Cooks Source, and that NPR has filed a cease-and-desist letter with the magazine.