Letter to NPR’s “On The Media” about the Cooks Source controversy.

Here’s what we sent to NPR’s On The Media yesterday about their coverage of the Cooks Source controversy:

In today’s piece (14 Nov 2010) about Cooks Source’s unauthorized use of Monica Gaudio’s story about apple pie, you referred to the episode as an example of “plagiarism”. It is not.

Cooks Source preserved Gaudio’s name on the article. It was unauthorized use, but it was not misattribution, and only the latter is plagiarism. Plagiarism is unrelated to copyright infringement: you can plagiarize without infringing (for example, if I claimed to be the author of a public domain work like Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”), and you can infringe without plagiarizing (what Cooks Source did: publish someone else’s work with their name still attached to it).

Many in the publishing and recording industries deliberately try to confuse these two things — I give some examples below — because they know that people feel stronger moral revulsion toward plagiarism than toward mere unauthorized copying. But there is no reason for NPR’s On The Media to assist in this confusion. The distinction between copying and plagiarism is clear, and important to make.


Thank you,
-Karl Fogel
 Editor, QuestionCopyright.org

I hope they read it on the air, or at least summarize the point. If anyone hears it, please let us know.

2 Comments on "Letter to NPR’s “On The Media” about the Cooks Source controversy."

  1. I hope they do.  I don’t listen to NPR, so . . . I don’t know how I can help there.


    Elton J. Robb.

  2. I’ve actually heard them give corrections and clarification on the air on subsequent shows plenty of times – NPR is usually pretty good at that, it seems (maybe it depends on the host) and I’d be surprised if they didn’t address this.