Several years ago, I got the only takedown notice I’ve ever received. The person objecting to me posting a short quotation of hers (with full attribution and link to the original) is now in the news herself:
An Ottawa wine writer used reviews from other writers on her website without properly crediting them. And as if that’s not ripe enough, a U.S. online wine magazine says she requires some wineries to buy a subscription to her website before she’ll review their wines.
Call it a tempest in a wine bottle. Writer Natalie MacLean has uncorked a debate about journalism etiquette and ethics online and touched off an oenophilic flap that’s produced underlying acidity and a bitter aftertaste in the usually genteel subculture.
“It’s all very tawdry,” says wine writer Tony Aspler. “The wine writers’ community is very close and collegial. To have someone behave this way, to take reviews and not attribute properly, it’s not done.”
MacLean, who writes at nataliemaclean.com, says she was surprised when Michael Pinkus, president of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada, objected to her use of others’ reviews. She got legal advice, she says, and has now gone back through past postings to fully attribute the reviews. She denies that wineries must pay to subscribe to her site to get reviewed.
“It’s been extremely painful,” says MacLean, named the World’s Best Drink Journalist in 2003 at the World Food Media Awards. “I’m more than happy to discuss the issues, to focus on the facts, but this has gone well beyond that. There’s been a lot of personal attacks. You can look for yourself on the blogs.”
So the person who objected to me quoting her was actually engaged in ripping off her fellow wine writers without attribution? That made my day.