Last Friday, Politics of the Plate received the following email from the legal department of Condé Nast Publications, the company that recently shut down Gourmet magazine, where I was an independent contractor for a number of years. The email concerns a half-dozen articles linked to at the bottom of the left-hand column of this site.
Dear Mr. Estabrook:
I write on behalf of The Condé Nast Publications (“CNP”), publisher of Gourmet and its accompanying website Gourmet.com.
It has recently come to our attention that you have posted on your website, www.politicsoftheplate.com, several of your articles originally commissioned by our magazine, many of which can still be seen at our website www.Gourmet.com.
As you may or may not know, CNP has the exclusive right to publish such material. CNP greatly values the content commissioned from you and has every intention to continue publishing it going forward. As such, on behalf of CNP I must respectfully request that these articles be taken down from your website to ensure our exclusivity.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions regarding this matter. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this regard.
Very truly yours,
Leaving aside the fact that I am the author of and the copyright holder on the articles in question, one wonders why the company, a multi-billion-dollar operation that owns dozens of magazines, would bother with an unemployed writer who posts a few of his own articles on his own blog, which has revenues of absolutely zero.
I used to write articles similar to the ones that appear on politicsoftheplate.com for Gourmet’s website. When Condé Nast shuttered the magazine, I decided to create this blog because I’m a naturally curious sort, and I felt that there were not enough outlets for serious articles about the links between food and politics. I also wanted to make available a handful of my older articles that were still timely and, I think, important. They examine subjects such as:
–Florida tomato pickers being held in slavery (an on-going issue)
–The environmental damage done by salmon and shrimp farms
–The ecological havoc unleashed in California in the name of food safety
–The demise of a six-generation dairy farm
Over the past several months, Condé Nast has laid off scores of talented editors and designers. It seems sad that the once-great magazine company known for quality journalism can afford to keep lawyers on the payroll who have nothing better to do with their time than send emails like this.