The road to hell is paved with best intentions.
Knitting is supposed to be fun, right? Not this week. I have become embroiled in a scandal involving two knitting mailing lists, a major knitting magazine, and a craft board. Let’s see if I can recap this coherently. (Names are, of course, obscured to protect the innocent – not that there are any.)
It all started when one person, I’ll call her B, sent a forward to the knitting list I’m on. It was a cute little humorous piece which B was forwarding on from another list. She also said that it had been written and posted by A, and that A had given her permission to forward it on to us. I took that to mean that the piece was in the public domain, since it had already been forwarded to two separate mailing lists apparently with the author’s blessing. It turns out that was a slight mistake on my part, but it’s fairly understandable, don’t you think? When you get a forward, you assume that you’re safe to pass it along.
Anyway, I posted the text on a craft board I belong to, of course crediting it to A and mentioning that I’d gotten it from my knitting list. The next day another person, C, e-mailed me asking where it had come from. C’s e-mail address indicated that she worked for a prominent knitting magazine, so I was eager to help. I was happy to think that I might be helping A to get her great work published. I replied to C explaining that I had gotten it on a list from B, who in turn had gotten it from a list from the author A. Then I e-mailed B to let her know that someone was trying to track down A. B wrote me back and said she’d heard from them and that she’d be happy to hook them up with A. She also mentioned that she’d contact A and let them know that the knitting magazine was interested. That’s when the shit hit the fan.It turns out that A had actually already submitted the piece to the knitting magazine as “unpublished” and wasn’t supposed to share it with anybody. C had spotted it on the craft board and wanted to track down how many knitters had actually seen it before her magazine paid for it. A was pissed and evidently gave B hell, because B posted a long screed to our mailing list about the importance of copyright and how A, a free-lance writer, was going to be hurt by the fact that her text had suddenly appeared “all over the Internet”. In damage control mode, I quickly deleted the post from the craft board and all references to it on w-g. I even e-mailed Google and asked them to purge it from their cache. I felt like a complete ass.
Today I got another message from C apologizing for getting me into trouble. That was appreciated. She pointed out that what I’d done was an honest mistake and I shouldn’t beat myself up over it. More importantly, she made me realize that I’m not the ultimate one to blame – A is. A wasn’t upset that her piece was getting circulated; she was upset that the magazine had discovered that she’d shared it at all. I was merely the last link in a chain and ultimately it was A’s responsibility not to put it out there in the first place, especially if she’d represented it to the magazine as “unpublished.” So that made me feel a little bit better. I mean, even if I hadn’t posted the text elsewhere, C just as easily could have been a member of either of the first two mailing lists and found out that way.
The final chapter: B e-mailed me today to let me know that the magazine has accepted the piece anyway. Whew. Now I’m going to go crawl in a hole and hide.