Harriet Monroe was a Chicago hero for creators

Harriet Monroe was a Chicago hero for creators
Chicago Tribune photograph.

There are thieves in this world. They steal works of others and publish them without paying. In some cases, they do not even credit the creators.

There is a continuing discussion among creators of how to handle thieves. Some claim they should not be called criminals- thieves- it is unprofessional. They should be treated with dignity and respect. That will stop them from infringing and hopefully get them to pay for using copyrighted material.

We live in a world beyond political correctness. It is a world of compelled speech. We are supposed to treat people kindly, even if they steal from us. Creators are not supposed to be bullies and shamers.

Harriet Monroe wrote an ode for the opening of the 1893 Chicago World Columbian Exposition. She fought the men who ran the exposition to recognize poetry as an art. She fought those same men because they did not want a woman poet creating the opening poem for such a prestigious city event.

Harriet Monroe prevailed.

The ode was seventy-eight pages long. It was a combination of poetry and performance art.

An intrepid reporter from the New York World, a Pulitzer paper, obtained a copy of the Poem. He sent it to the paper. It was claimed to be the longest telegraph sent from Chicago at the time.

The New York World published the poem without permission from Harriet Monroe. The poem had been copyrighted by Ms. Monroe.

Harriet Monroe sued over the theft of her work.

If there was one thing Joseph Pulitzer hated the most, it was writers who had lawyers. He threw the legal and political weight of the New York World and his media empire against Harriet Monroe.

The New York World was one of the most powerful newspapers of the era. Pulitzer believed he could not lose. Pulitzer was wrong.

Harriet Monroe won her lawsuit after it went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The ruling set a precedent for copyright law infringement. It is still used today in copyright infringement cases.

Harriet Monroe was awarded five thousand dollars. Pulitzer also had to pay her legal fees and court costs. Had Pulitzer or his paper asked permission to publish the poem, it would have only cost them two hundred dollars.

Harriet Monroe is a hero to creators. She stopped the thieves with her lawsuit. The ruling in her case protects creators to this day.

Harriet Monroe used the award, along with financial help from Chicago's elite, to establish Poetry Magazine, which led to the Poetry Foundation. This is what she is known for. The copyright case is treated as a mere footnote of her life.

Chicago Tribune Photo.

Chicago Tribune Photo.

Harriet Monroe matters. She took on one of the most powerful newspapers in America. She prevailed.

Harriet Monroe set the standard for all creators to stop the theft of their work and get paid.

Harriet Monroe is a true Chicago person. Tough, unbendable, and a fighter for what is right.

If the thieves steal your work, be like Harriet Monroe. Go after them tooth and nail. Be a bully and shamer. Get paid. Getting paid is what being a professional is all about.

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