So, if you didn't know already, the chairman of pub chain JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, has become one of the UK's most prominent voices pushing for the hardest possible Brexit.
Martin is everywhere. He gets interviewed on all the top BBC news programmes, he attends rallies alongside Nigel Farage, and he absolutely HATES the government's Brexit deal.
And while Martin goes around the country loudly advocating for a no-deal Brexit, he's also been replacing EU-sourced drinks in the 900 or so Wetherspoons pubs around the UK.
Anyway, if you're a Spoons regular you may have noticed Martin is also producing a new in-house magazine called Wetherspoon News. According to a spokesperson, the magazine has a circulation of 350,000(!!!!!).
If you open up Wetherspoon News, you'll quickly find that along with news about the pub chain, there are columns about Brexit lifted entirely from some of the nation's most well-known newspapers and magazines.
In Wetherspoon News' winter edition, for example, the magazine used columns from the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator, and the Financial Times, with accompanying pro-Brexit commentary from the tycoon himself.
For example, above the FT's October column from Philip Stephens about Boris Johnson, featured on page 83 of Wetherspoon News, there's a “Tim Says” commentary reading:
Tut, tut, Philip. Calling Boris a liar is a bit harsh. Like you, Boris is a successful writer. He was also, for eight years, a very successful editor of the famous Spectator magazine – not an easy gig in the Internet age. He was also twice elected mayor of London – not easy in a Labour city and he also led the successful Leave campaign in the election. In contrast, the Financial Times has participated in the surreptitious transfer of democratic power from the people of the UK to unelected apparatchiks in Brussels. Who is the most moral, Philip? A good question for a debate in the cerebral FT…
A Wetherspoons spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News the magazine did not get permission from the publications or enter into a commercial agreement to reprint the columns.
Suffice to say those publications are not impressed. The Daily Telegraph said it's investigating the matter, while the Financial Times described the situation as copyright infringement.
"More than 400 clients around the world pay for the FT's global, independent journalism through syndication agreements," an FT spokesperson said. "Wetherspoon News isn't one of them and we take any cases of copyright infringement seriously."
The Spectator editor Fraser Nelson also said the magazine has sent Wetherspoons a "please explain" letter: "We have written to them inquiring about this, and they didn't ask permission."
"We're seeking compensation in the form of Spoons vouchers: my colleagues are keen Spoons customers and we'd settle for a wee end-of-Jan outing at Tim Martin's expense to celebrate the recent Spectator sales spike," Nelson added.
"They've said they'll consider."
A source said one publication has actually tasked a researcher with trying to find out how many other columns had been lifted in the production of Wetherspoon News.
Philip Stephens' name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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