Natalie MacLean accused of copyright infringement of wine reviews

Interesting blog post on Palate Press about Natalie Maclean's purported copyright infringement in publishing reviews without authorization or proper attribution on her subscription-only website. Basically, the allegations are such that she's taken reviews from various commercial publications (including Wine Spectator) and other sites, and provided access to them behind her paywall.

In other sketchy allegations, here's another post about requiring wineries buying subscriptions to her website before she'd review the wines, and another post reviewing her new book.

I don't know Natalie personally, but I do know she's posted here periodically. If she's stealing other peoples' reviews and reselling access to them, that's pretty sketchy and I would suspect there's a cease-and-desist at a minimum, and a lawsuit potentially beyond that.

I personally don't consider her reviews relevant because my palate doesn't align with hers, but who knows if she even tasted the wines she wrote about.

Discuss.

Edited to put a capital L in Natalie's last name. The least I can do is spell her name correctly.
Original Post
I think there's a clear distinction between retailers using shelf talkers to sell wine (which is done with attribution) and taking critics reviews without attribution or permission and selling access to them on your website.

I'm not a member of WineAlign, so I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty sure the reviews they publish are from their own critics. Can anyone that's a member comment on this?

I'd be interested to hear what Thomas Matthews has to say on this matter, since surely WS knows about this. Harvey Steinman, specifically, was mentioned in the blog post.
quote:
Originally posted by futronic:
Hah! Seriously though, read the comments section. Jancis Robinson and Allen Meadows chime in. It adds a whole other level to the post.


nm i see the post now

still the same yawn, can I have my waste 8 minutes back please ;-)
A few months ago I had the opportunity to tell someone:

"The world needs a whole lot more journalists who become wine lovers and write about wine and a whole lot less wine lovers who try to become journalists."

I don't think there's anything here other than someone who way over stepped their area of competency.
Paul - she really overstepped.

So tacky.

But I think from this latest fiasco, she's probably picked up more readers than she ever had. Before this, did anyone know who she is? Or care?

All I know about her comes from a few years ago where she was called out for doing crap like this. Joe Dressner even posted about her on his blog.

Fully agree that it's far better for the reader if a writer becomes a wine lover than vice versa.

Read the posts on this forum for examples of the latter!
Devilish
I find it hilarious that she commented on the negative aspect of the review of her book in such positive and glowing terms, thanking the reviewer. This she wrote and signed the comment with her own name.

Then she writes a later comment under the name "Kevin Johnson". KJ harshly criticizes the reviewer of her book in very strong and negative tone. Kevin then sings her praises above all and provides a link to her website / newsletter.

Unfortunately for Nat, the site publisher realized that Natalie Maclean and Kevin Johnson both published their comments from the same computer. Ooops.

Would you find this dishonest?
This is becoming even more interesting as others such as Randal Graham, Alice Feiring have weighed in on Twitter (search #natnabbed)..

John Szabo also writes on the topic in a WineAlign article:

http://www.winealign.com/blog/...or-january-5th-2013/

The interesting thing is that in terms of using other's reviews, ie: Spectator, Parker, etc. they have been guilty of the EXACT same thing and funny enough, seems to have quietly changed their practice while dumping on Natalie..

I don't defend her, but it seems that the practice of using other's reviews (perhaps without permission) is probably rampant and it's funny how she has become the lightening rod..
quote:
Originally posted by IT:

The interesting thing is that in terms of using other's reviews, ie: Spectator, Parker, etc. they have been guilty of the EXACT same thing and funny enough, seems to have quietly changed their practice while dumping on Natalie..

I don't defend her, but it seems that the practice of using other's reviews (perhaps without permission) is probably rampant and it's funny how she has become the lightening rod..


Interesting and serious accusation. To be clear, are you saying that Spectator and Parker have lifted complete verbatim reviews from other authors without attribution? Can you cite a specific example?

I've been an intermittent subscriber to Spectator over the years, and a long-time continuous subscriber to Wine Advocate. I can't recall reading anything suggestive of what you are claiming.
quote:
Originally posted by DBG:
quote:
Originally posted by IT:

The interesting thing is that in terms of using other's reviews, ie: Spectator, Parker, etc. they have been guilty of the EXACT same thing and funny enough, seems to have quietly changed their practice while dumping on Natalie..

I don't defend her, but it seems that the practice of using other's reviews (perhaps without permission) is probably rampant and it's funny how she has become the lightening rod..


Interesting and serious accusation. To be clear, are you saying that Spectator and Parker have lifted complete verbatim reviews from other authors without attribution? Can you cite a specific example?

I've been an intermittent subscriber to Spectator over the years, and a long-time continuous subscriber to Wine Advocate. I can't recall reading anything suggestive of what you are claiming.


No, WS or Parker have done no such thing - Related to this thread, the publication in Ontario 'WineAlign' has lifted WS and WA reviews under the auspices of the biweekly 'Vintages' magazine produced by the liquor monopoly in our province, the LCBO...

They've stopped the practice I believe as a response to the Natalie MacLean 'scandal'..What peeves me is that they are taking a 'holier than thou' approach to her situation whilst they've been doing the exact same thing - And then some, as I clearly have seen examples of them posting WS reviews when the Vintages mag had only posted a Parker review...

I was under the assumption that based on the profile of 'WineAlign' in Ontario, they must have had some arrangement with WS and Parker...I now believe this to not be the case as they have now stripped their website of any 'non-staff' reviews...

Once again, although 'WineAlign' is now doing what's right, they are taking an approach of complete innocence when I know for a fact they were doing exactly what Natalie has been accused of in relation to copyright infringement.

Hope this clarifies...
If I understand correctly, the complaint about Natalie McLean is that she quotes other reviewers without attribution. WineAlign always attributed tasting notes and scores to the source.

But I gave up reading anything that Natalie writes a long time ago so I'm just going on hearsay. If the rest of you did likewise, there would be no offence.
Also funny that she thanked GD instead of CF.

But thinking about it - set aside the laziness and classlessness demonstrated by using other people's reviews.

Different critics have different opinions on individual wines. How does she establish any consistency if she copies a review from this one and another from that one? And for the five or six people who might act on those recommendations, wouldn't they just end up confused as all hell?
Futronic:

Wine Spectator never cites reviews from other critics. And we do not permit other wine writers to post Wine Spectator reviews, except with explicit permission. You can find our policies regarding the use of our reviews here: http://www.winespectator.com/d.../show/id/ratings_use

Unfortunately, there's a lot of unauthorized use and it's difficult to police the internet. However, Natalie Maclean has agreed to remove all Wine Spectator reviews from her site.
Hi Thomas,

I never suggested that Wine Spectator cites reviews from other critics. What I was referencing was the article that stated Natalie Maclean's website was citing reviews from other critics, including those from Wine Spectator.

The reason why I mentioned your name was that, as Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, you probably knew about this issue and were taking appropriate action.

Regardless, I wanted to post the link to the blog and situation because of the number of Canadians (and specifically Ontarians) on the forum that would find this of interest.
Futronic,

Right, sorry if I gave a wrong impression; my reference was to other posts in the thread. I do appreciate it when readers bring these situations to our attention; we can't keep up with everything.

The same applies, by the way, to cases where restaurants who have won awards from Wine Spectator for their wine lists may have misrepresented what they actually offer their customers. We appreciate assistance in ensuring that we maintain our standards.

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