The Opposite of Free Culture – Cooks Source

Monica Gaudio brings us a sordid tale over at her LiveJournal.  Cooks Source, a give-away mag about cooking, lifted Ms. Gaudio’s article, “A Tale of Two Tarts,” and reprinted it without permission.

These things happen in the world of the internet.  Maybe the editors were snowed by someone claiming it as their own.  Maybe their file of “things to inquire about” got mixed up with “things we can print.”  Monica took the very reasonable step of contacting the magazine to ask how it happened.

They copped to using the article without permission, but their response was unusual to say the least.  Instead of offering compensation ex post facto, the editor (Judith Griggs) told Monica she should be glad that they had edited it for her without demanding payment.

Really, the email exchange is entertaining in a horrible way.  You should go to the LJ link above and read it. [Waits]

Not surprisingly, John Scalzi, Nick Mamatas, and other Internet visible writing personalities have jumped all over this and boosted the signal through the roof.  Freelance writers from here to Timbuktu have descended in droves on the Cook Source Facebook page and phone lines.

As an artist and creator, this sort of crap drives me insane.  It also really gets me steamed as an Open Culture advocate.  Too many people think that Open Culture and information sharing is this kind of thing: the belief that everything online is Public Domain.

In case you are one of those people, let me spell it out for you: Open Culture is not about taking other people’s things without their permission!

Open Culture is about the free exchange of resources and ideas.  Free.  Not compulsory.  Not forced on any creator.  The people who created and use the Creative Commons licenses are not interested in forcing the same on anyone else.  People who are advocates of copyright reform are not (generally) advocates of abolishing copyright.

Every creator has the right to the fruits of their labor, and to decide for themselves how best to make use of it.  For some, it is to keep it fully under commercial copyright, requiring payment for any use.  For others, it is to share freely but ask for licensing in cases where the other party wishes to make money.  Still others give work away without limit, confident that this will give them a way to meet their ends.

All of these methods can work, and each one suits different people.  The most important thing is – it is for the creator to decide.

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