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Androvett Blog

by Dave Moore at 4:13:37 pm

Recipe for a copyright dispute: Editor steals article about medieval apple pie

Who knew the humble apple pie has been around since the Medieval times, with recipes appearing in period cookbooks  in Italy, France, Germany and even England, no less? When Gode Cooke blogger Monica Gaudio analyzed some of those recipes in a bylined article, editors at Cooks Source magazine found  “A Tale of Two Tarts” so interesting that they took the article and published it as if it were their own.

After Gaudio confronted Cooks Source about the pilferage, she received an unapologetic response via e-mail:

“Yes Monica, I do know about copyright laws. … But honestly Monica the web is considered ‘public domain’ and you should be happy we just didn't ‘lift’ your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. ... We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!”

Stories about this foodie tussle made more than a few news outlets. Munck Carter trademark and copyright lawyer Dyan House says the folks at Cooks Source were out of line when they failed to obtain Gaudio’s permission to reprint the article. She says it’s a common misperception that Internet content is public domain.

“The copyright owner -- in this case the author of the article -- has the right to distribute her work,” says House. “However, she did not transfer or lose any of her rights when she published it online.”

The run-in is just one case that demonstrates the lengths culinary experts will go to get different takes on an old recipe. According to the New York Times the pie has replaced the fancy cupcake as the latest in-demand dessert, and landing original recipes the delicacy is a serious business.

Suddenly, New York and San Francisco are national centers of pie innovation. In Brooklyn, a pair of sisters from South Dakota are integrating sea salt and caramel into their apple pie and inventing aromatic fillings like cranberry-sage and pear-rosewater. In the East Village, at Momofuku Milk Bar, the pastry chef, Christina Tosi, has transferred the buttery, caramelized flavors of apple pie into a layer cake, with apple filling between the layers and crumbs of pie crust in the frosting.

Some of the experimentation has led to oddities including pie milkshakes, pies baked in canning jars and a monstrosity called the cherpumple: three pies (cherry, pumpkin, apple) baked inside three cake layers, all terrifyingly stacked together with cream cheese frosting. (Yes, it is a turducken for the dessert course.)