Plagiarism Scandal, Version Web 2.0

As many an instructor will bemoan, the Internet giveth a lot to plagiarizers in terms of paper mill sites, Wikipedia and just an abundance of online text students can make off with for term papers. But as I found it in a post from colleague Robin Smail, the Internet can also taketh away from copyright infringers.

When an article on historic apple pie recipes written by Monica Guido was picked up by another cooking magazine without her permission…Ms. Guido expressed her outrage to the editors.

The initial result was a proclamation that the Web was public domain anyway. So Ms. Guido expressed her outrage via her blog. Outrage was also expressed by her friend Nick Mamatas and from there the story spread through out the Internet (as Robin documents so well).

The result for Cooks Source has not been good. Their Facebook page has been host to several obnoxious comments regarding the scandal and a report that at least one advertiser has pulled out. This is not good for business. As they say karma can be a mean, nasty lady.


Robin’s blog does do a good job at explaining the ramifications from a social media perspective. I think the interesting insight for me is that we are discovering a new way to evaluate “expertise” that will be beneficial in the long run.

Various information literacy seminars will include “source” as a way to evaluate the authenticity of information. Once upon a time a news story from the a professional publisher or media outlet would always triumph over an “amateur”…but that has really changed. Ironically, the Internet is gradually teaching us to evaluate information on its own merits.

On the face of it, Gode Cookery looks like a total amateur production (and it remains proudly Web 1.0), especially in comparison to a media-saavy enterprise who is trying to harness the power of Facebook. But I have always recommended it, and it has built up a reputation in the cooking world.

Part of it is the fact that it has been around since 1997 (that’s like 39 years in TV time). A more important part though may be (gasp) the complete bibliography included at the end. Ms. Gaudio claims to be a mere amateur, but she knows enough to cite your sources and carefully document your sources. She is equally detailed when explaining how she converts 14th century haphazard recipes to a modern version, up to an including if you can find authentic 14th century apple varieties (not very easily).

This is exactly what I find exciting about the Internet. Yes, we can pass along photos and updates to each other, but the dedicated hobbyist can now meaningfully contribute to the community of practice and really make a difference. And it appears that discerning viewers really may be able to hone in on what’s good on the Internet.

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