Monday, November 15, 2010

DiceCast Episode 12: Interview with Monica Gaudio

Monica Gaudio is a medievalist who recently became a reluctant Internet personality when she was embroiled in a controversy. Two of her medieval pie recipes were copied from a web site where she posted them for free by Cooks Source (sic), an advertiser-supported food magazine, without her permission. She protested to the magazine's publisher and the answer that she got was not what anyone would expect to get under those circumstances. She posted a part of the response to her blog and that was where things got interesting.

Neil Gaiman, Will Wheaton, John Scalzi, and thousands more people on the Internet took up the cause of protesting what happened, and the result of this massive outpouring of support was a victory for Monica Gaudio. Rather than discuss the issue and the fallout surrounding it ourselves, we decided to interview Monica Gaudio and get the story from her, in her own words. We caught her while she was on the road, so the sound quality is not perfect, but it is clear enough for you to hear what she has to say.

This is essential listening for anyone who writes, who is interested in writing, or who wants to know about the legal disposition of anything that they write that is posted online.

Notes on full disclosure

Monica Gaudio requested that we guard her privacy and we agreed to respect that. No information regarding where she lives, the kind of work that she does, or other associations that she keeps are part of this interview. We are not linking to the original recipes or to Cooks Source's web site, nor to Monica's blog. Our purpose is to inform our listeners, many of whom are writers, about an important issue related to their intellectual property rights that was made current by an interesting event; not to exacerbate an Internet phenomenon that has already taken on a life of its own.

As we say in the introduction to the podcast, we exhausted every available means to contact Cooks Source so that they could give us their side of the story, to no avail. Contacts by e-mail bounced or went unanswered; with at least one address returning an automated message that the account in question had been disabled. Attempts to contact them by phone were similarly unsuccessful, because the number for Cooks Source has been disconnected.


Two points of law are mentioned in the cast. Links to the actual sections of the relevant statute are posted here for reference. We also include a link to Brad Templeton's famous list of myths about copyright.
Although this incident took place in the United States, we post the relevant passages of the copyright laws of a few other countries where we have writers and listeners. Various international treaties signed by most countries in the world guarantee that the copyright laws of most countries have a similar scope and a similar range of exceptions.
Other links

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