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Palate Press accuses MacLean of copyright infringement

US online wine magazine PalatePress.com has accused Canadian wine writer Natalie MacLean of copyright infringement on her website NatalieMacLean.com.

Natalie MacLean
Canadian wine writer Natalie MacLean

MacLean, whose website boast over 145,000 members, publishes a paid for subscription newsletter offering “exclusive wine reviews” for US$2.10 a month.

In addition to her own reviews, she includes reviews by professional wine writers often without attributing them to a publication or providing a link to the review.

Instead, they are all accredited to “Vintages Wine Catalogue,” a Liquor Control Board of Ontario publication that runs fully accredited reviews, including information on the author, date, and publication.

“There is a simple phrase for this practice in which MacLean has engaged – copyright infringement.

“Just because someone is writing about wine rather than politics or foreign affairs does not absolve him or her from adhering to journalistic ethics,” Palate Press wrote in an open letter addressing the issue on its website.

“Intellectual property theft is a scourge on journalism and cannot be tolerated. We cannot sit idly by while a colleague brings discredit upon any of us by flouting ethical standards,” it added.

Responding to the accusations, MacLean replied on the Palate Press website:

“I am in the process of adding the information, including names and publications, beside the quotes that has been requested, beginning with the most recent reviews and going backwards.

“I welcome and listen to feedback from both colleagues and readers and make changes as a result, including all that has been requested in this case.”

Screen grab from NatalieMacLean.com
Screen grab from NatalieMacLean.com

The online magazine contacted a number of the wine writers who have been featured on MacLean’s site, including Jancis Robinson MW, James Halliday, Jamie Goode, and The Wine Advocate’s new editor-in-chief Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, none of whom had given their permission for her to include their content.

On learning reviews from her Purple Pages website had been used on MacLean’s site without her permission, Palate Press reports that Robinson was “horrified.”

“I am horrified, Natalie. Not just by the general lack of proper attribution, but by the appropriation of reviews from Purple Pages, which is a members-only publication.

“Please take steps to remove all reviews appropriated from Purple Pages immediately,” Robinson wrote to MacLean.

“There is a qualitative difference between a retailer’s quoting a review for sales purposes and a fellow wine commentator’s publishing it on their own personal website,” Robinson later told Palate Press.

The magazine is currently investigating allegations that MacLean has asked a number of wineries to subscribe to her website before she will accept their wines for review.

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