The Web is Not Public Domain

Ten years back, I had submitted some short tips to a computer magazine.  At the time, I was trying to use them to build a relationship with the editor so I could submit longer articles (and get paid!).  One day, after emailing him another tip, I got a strange email back.  He asked me if I submitted the tips anywhere else.  I hadn’t, and he explained that another site had taken content from his site, including my tips.   But the damage was done.  Though I had some tips in submission and submitted a few more, the editor never used any of them again nor did he communicate with me again.

The web makes things easy to access, and a lot of people out there think that everything is automatically public domain.  It isn’t.  Cook’s Source magazine apparently lifted an author’s article from another online magazine and published it, then suggested the writer was lucky they didn’t charge her for editing.  As the Washington Post notes:

Anyway, within hours after Gaudio posted that last night, her story of copy theft had begun richocheting around the Internet. The magazine’s Web site is mainly a placeholder, directing people to its Facebook page — and that’s where things got ugly.

I did visit the Facebook site–it is pretty ugly.  I imagine the site will be coming down in the next day.  The most troublesome thing out of this is that the editor has posted additional comments that suggest she doesn’t think she did anything wrong.  There’s a lot of that going around.  People just seem to think that it’s not big deal and it is.