As mentioned by james_nicoll , the mighty John Scalzi has this wonderful article about a stupendously idiotic editor who committed the gravest sin in publishing -- taking and publishing someone's material without permission or payment -- and then tried to excuse the conduct by, in part, the following stunningly condescending statement (taken from the LJ of the writer in question):
"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. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"
The name of the magazine in question is Cooks Source, which at first glance would seem to be a wholesome mag which wouldn't even have the interest or reach to steal other people's stuff. But they apparently have a world-class self-important idiot in the editor category.
Let's be clear: EVERYTHING I, OR YOU, OR ANYONE ELSE WRITES ON THE WEB OR A FO
What this person did is wrong legally, and wrong morally, and their self-congratulatory condescension above makes my teeth grind -- and I'm not the person from whom they stole the work.
Anyone who thinks "On the Web" means "public domain, I can take it and use it without permission", I cordially invite to go to this site and take any of the images thereon -- let's say that one with the smiling cartoon mouse. Put that up on your website or use it on your letterhead. And then, when The Mouse's legal team comes for you, tell them "it was on the Web, it's public domain!". I am sure that Disney will instantly apologize for troubling you and leave you to your mouse-covered stationery.
[EDIT] It appears that most, if not ALL, of their articles have been plagiarized -- some from sources including Sunset magazine, NPR, and (dear God Above have mercy on her soul) Disney itself. Welcome to Hell,