Today, an obscure New England cooking magazine was catapulted onto the national stage. The magazine is accused of plagiarism and copyright violation, and the Internet is fighting back, even discovering that many, many of the publication’s articles were lifted verbatim from other sources. Check out the back story here, and view their besieged Facebook Fan Page. At Roundpeg, we had more than a few words to say about Cook’s Source’s crime, punishment, and hopes for redemption.

Transcript Excerpt

Well, for those of you who haven’t heard yet, there is a big brouhaha going on on a Facebook fan page right now. But those of you who have never heard of cooks, source, it is a small regional cooking magazine in the northeast, but they have suddenly found themselves thrust into the national spotlight.

So how did this little cooking source magazine and publication ended up with literally hundreds and hundreds of people posting on their Facebook page and not too happily?
This just proves that all publicity is not good publicity. Basically, what happened was the editor stole a an article that was posted online and published it in the paper version of her magazine. When the author found out about it, she wasn’t too happy and sent an email asking for a printed apology and apology on Facebook and $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism, pretty reasonable.

It was a very fair request that she’d be given credit for her work. What did the magazine do?

Well, the editor of the magazine came back with a pretty incredible email. They said that everything on the internet is public domain and that she could print anything she wanted. She also went out of her way to say that the article needed editing and that this person should be paying her for the editing work that she did. And

I’m guessing that didn’t go over well.

Well, shockingly, most people on the internet know that the internet is in fact not public domain. So this actually hits All of the big social media sites, Reddit, Digg, and the big one 4 Chan

Wow. And as people found this information on these other social media sites, what have they been doing?

Well, what they’ve been doing, they’ve been flocking to this website to the fan page on Facebook, to post their outrage with the plagiarism, the attitude of the editor, and also with the idea that the internet’s public domain, they’ve also been taking the time to find the phone number for the magazine, as well as for all of their advertisers.

Now, although this is very interesting, and it’s about a magazine in crisis in somewhere in the news, England area. How is this relevant to other small business owners? What can they learn from this example?

Well, this is a critical lesson to everyone that first of all, you need to be ethical in all areas of your business in this day and age, if you screw up, you will be caught and called out for it. The second is, you have to be proactive in your crisis communications on your Facebook page. Cook Source,  as far as I’ve seen, has not posted any reply to any of the comments on their page or an official statement.

So advice number one, there is a lot of great content out there if you’re going to reference it, reference it with credit back to the author. If you were their crisis PR manager what would you tell quick source right now,

I would tell cook source that they immediately need to post prominent apologies on both their Facebook and their regular web page. Additionally, they need to print a letter from the editor in their next issue explaining what happened and how they will make it will  never happen again. And finally, they need to make a much bigger donation than $130 to the Columbia School of Journalism.

And what happened afterward? Well that was the last issue of Cook’s Source Magazine.