Yet, if Theodore’s philosophy is that unsourced compilation is the same thing as collaboration, it hasn’t stopped him from displaying the standard legal—copyright and trademark—protections for Reader’s content as well. You will be prosecuted for plagiarizing the plagiarizer, apparently.
“It’d be nice if there were some recourse,” says Vincent Zandri, a freelance journalist and author of fiction whose feature, “One Man’s Victory Against All Odds” by RT in May 2009— was republished in Reader’s November/December/January 2010-11 issue. “If one of your stories is being reprinted and you’re not paid for it, that’s plagiarism and money out of your pocket—especially for me; I’m a freelancer.”
Zandri says his work has been pirated numerous times, and he was not terribly surprised to learn he had been plagiarized and republished in a Southern California direct mailer:
As great as the digital world has been as a journalist and fiction writer—especially with lucrative ebook sales—it has been just as troubling because people are pirating me left and right . But as a journalist, I’m on to the next story and I’m working. I just don’t have the time or the resources. I don’t know what I could do—I’m powerless and as long as it is out there digitally, it can be hacked.
Zandri promotes a lot of his work on his website, a strategy he says he is beginning to question as a result of his continuing battle against piracy and plagiarism.
And so, what to make of this all? Reader Magazine is just a coupon magazine, mailed to 150,000 homes in Southern California—and promoted, with mixed success (thirteen Twitter followers, but 8,516 likes on Facebook) on the Internet. It’s design and layout are crummy and crowded; the product of someone that has gone crazy—color! fonts!—with newly affordable and accessible home publishing programs. It’s quite likely more people toss Reader out than actually read it. And when they do, they’re reading stories that are sometimes years old—what is that really worth?
Yet before waving away Reader’s editorial misdeeds, with a ‘Why bother?,’ it’s important not to forget the principle of it, nor the fact that while Reader rips off other print media—an industry we’ve heard isn’t doing so well these days—Reader’s operations hum along on the backs of others with ad revenues that appear to be growing and are celebrated on the Reader’s Facebook page:
From humble origins, The Reader Magazine has grown to become today one of the largest circulation publications in Southern California, reaching a readership that earns $8 billion.
The Reader is also getting fatter. Its latest Redlands edition was 40 pages, up from the its usual thirty-two.