Note: I do not claim to be an expert on this topic so excuse my inevitable flaw/typo. This is just what I know thus far in the field and how I perceive the issue. No attacking or evil shenanigans, please. Unless, of course, those evil shenanigans involve White Russians and Jason Bateman. Mmmmmm…
Why a post about copyright infringement on a recipe blog, you ask?
A few months after I started blogging (Also known to the common man as, “So what are you planning on doing for a real job?”), one of my recipes went viral. I was ecstatic, and very lucky.
Sadly, I was so wide-eyed and naive at the time.
Whilst basking in the euphoria of my site’s new-found growth, I started to see this viral recipe pop up everywhere. Not just the photo, and a nice mention of where to find it. The recipe was copied and pasted. Interesting…
All of my photos from the post were being grouped together in one large image. This way, people could see how to make it one, simple glance. Sure, that is super convenient and all, but now everyone who sees it will never visit my site EVEN if a link was thrown in at the bottom.
Let me show you what I mean.
Often referred to as intellectual property in the real world.
In this image, someone placed all of my photos and pasted my recipe verbatim into their post:
My photos. My exact writing. Even if this person posted the link, would people care to visit my site? Nope. The information is already there, so no need to.
Look at this example:
That’s Nerdalicious posted my photo with a link to my recipe. They also included the via site, Bon Appétit, where they originally found the link.
This is much better. Also, guess how much traffic funneled back to my site? A lot more!
IF YOU COPY AND PASTE SOMEONE’S WRITING WITHOUT PERMISSION, IF YOU USE/POST SOMEONE’S PHOTOGRAPH WITHOUT PERMISSION,
IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE BOTH THE PHOTO AND RECIPE. IT CAN BE ONE, THE OTHER, OR BOTH AND IT IS STILL COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT.
THROW THE LINK TO THE SITE IN AT THE BOTTOM, IF YOU WANT, BUT IF YOU DID NOT GET THEIR PERMISSION TO USE THEIR PHOTOGRAPH AND/OR WRITING THEN IT IS STILL AN INFRINGEMENT.
By high school, this was common knowledge for all of us. Do not copy someone else’s work. Plagiarism and copyright= wrong. It’s that simple.
The internet is actually fairly similar, like it or not.
In fact, not only are you breaking the law, you are affecting someone’s livelihood. My job is to generate traffic to my site. When people visit my site, they purchase things, see or click on the advertisements. I can only make that income if they come to my site. I am also a freelance writer and photographer for other companies, and that can be affected as well.
Some sites use my photo without asking, but as long as they write about my site and link me without posting the recipe, I am happy as a clam. Still, technically an infringement to use a photo without permission, but they are boosting my site and directing traffic.
I personally am totally fine with posting an image with link without permission from source. This is only MY opinion, though.
Not ALL feel this way, but from my discussion with fellow bloggers/artists/photographers/writers, the MAJORITY consider a link or link and photo with brief description the proper etiquette. To be safe, contact the source.
The Decorated Cookie is an awesome blog. She posts links without the entire recipe on her Facebook page. Win.
Here are a couple of sites who used my photo without permission. No recipe, just my photo.
See the photo of the LEGO mold? I took that.
Lot’s of eBay sellers love to use that image.
This was perhaps the most bizarre:
Yep. That’s my photo. Of myself. On PrettyWomenPictures.com. I’m a brunette, but somehow ended up in the redhead category. That’s another story.
At the end of the day, people who work their tails off to develop recipes, write, style and take photos deserve R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It’s hard work! Give props to those who deserve them. It’s the patriotic way
I want to begin by saying, some people don’t know any better. I didn’t myself once. I am still capable, in my hectic and chaotic work schedule, of slipping up by not citing an image. I have no issues if someone writes me an email correcting me or asking for removal altogether. I want to follow what is right so I hope for that kind of communication. Forgiveness is cool.
That being said, I have sent out more than enough emails saying something like this:
“Hi I appreciate that you shared my recipe, but copying and pasting it is an infringement. Could you please replace the text with a link and you may keep the photo?” The reaction is rarely, “Sorry I didn’t know.” Usually it is met with douchey hostility. I rarely get angry at ignorance. Falsely held arrogance is another story.
Let’s start with a few recent incidents that exemplify how sorely misguided people are.
“I don’t know what your problem is, I am doing YOU a favor.”
Let’s look at an incident a few months ago,
[*Note: I added my watermark post screen shot of this image to protect my work. The Tumblr account did not post this image with the large watermark.]
This lovely Tumblr account took two of my photos and collaged them together. It is technically copyright infringement to be posting anyone’s photo without permissions, but I do clearly state on my site (in TWO places) one photo and link is okay for my content. ONE photo, not two.
Although she/he did provide a link, these are my photos at the end of the day as the owner I decide. It just didn’t tickle my fancy as the process was clearly displayed, as from my experience traffic from these posts are minimal.
So, I contacted the Tumblr account user and nicely explained that they were more than welcome to keep one photo.
1. Notice the smiley faces. Nothing like using emoticons to avoid nuclear war.
2. Wow your 4000+ (which is actually more like 2000+) re-blogs must mean your doing me such a huge favor? Well, I looked at my analytic stats and only about 100 clicks came from your 4000+ re-blogged post. That’s 2.5%. Incredibly low when I compare to sites with an even smaller audience.
That isn’t even including those eyes that saw this without re-blogging. Or the dozen or so other sites who copied and pasted this exact thing onto other websites (this started a massive reposting all over the internet, with no link back to my site). But no, really, thanks.
You are doing yourself a favor, not me.
“The Internet is Fair Game. You Don’t Own Anything Once It’s Online.”
Remember the Pizza in a Jar image I posted at the beginning of this article? I asked nicely in the comment section (it is better to email but some Blogger sites have no contact information) to remove the recipe and replace with link. Deleted and ignored my comment.
This is what ensued.
You’re right I don’t own the internet, but the writing and photos are still mine.
Are you saying that if dozens of other people got a tattoo of Justin Bieber’s face then it’s cool for you too? Without question? If other people commit this hideous act then it is suddenly justified or acceptable? (Get it? Justified? Aiyeee)
Remember when your parent(s) mentioned, “If all the other kids jumped off of a bridge…”
Child porn is illegal in real life, but if some of it ends up online then it’s okay and fair game? Infringement is wrong in the concrete world and it is wrong online too.
The post is obviously no longer there.
“I’m Going to Make Up Whatever Irrational Reasoning I Can to Justify My Ignorance”
Too many misconceptions and myths to sort through, so I lumped the rest into this last category.
A blogger wrote to a Facebook page that was copying and pasting text from recipe sites with photo. No citation or link provided.
Here is an example:
Chef in Training did NOT give this page permission.
Another blogger contacted the page and the admin actually posted this:
If I post my own photo to Facebook, they do have certain rights over that photo. If YOU post a photo to Facebook it does not make it Facebook’s property. They will in fact, remove it if she reports it.
Other nincompoops’ comments in the comments section:
Doesn’t matter if you claim it is your recipe or not. If I copied a chapter out of Catch 22 and turned it in to my English teacher for homework, what would his/her reaction be? I could say, “I never said any of it was my own. I just found it somewhere, liked it and wanted to share it with you.” F.
<- How about I copy your profile photos and post them on a lonely person dating website without your permission. Who cares, where it really comes from, right?
I can’t go there. That is just NUTS.
Nope. Pinterest is intended for photo with link BACK to site for recipe. This page was not “sharing,” technically. It would have to be her property to share.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for a link on how to search the internet for your photos.
Stay tuned on a post on how report those infringing uses of your work as well.
I would get more into the technicalities of intellectual property and copyright, but there is already a plethora of other bloggers who did a better job than I could (see links at bottom for those as well).
Here are some resources:
- Sara of Saving for Someday breaks down copyright for us. Super simple guide.
- Oh Cake explains how to properly share a recipe from a blog: The Butcher, The Baker, the blogger~ Copyright & You
- i am baker wrote about the issues concerning sharing on sharing using Instagram
I have less of an issue with Pinterest. Only if someone posts the recipe in the caption. Other bloggers do have concerns, however, so here are a couple of links on Pinterest.
- Bob explains the risk of using Pinterest.
- i am baker is also i am author. So popular, in fact, that she has had to deal with infringement issues on Facebook as well!
Check out, What Every Facebook User Needs to Know.
Infringing Acts On Other Blogs and Sites:
- Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. Her experience with a larger site posting her work with no citation: It’s Called a LINK- Use It Correctly or Don’t Use It at All
- Everyone pretty much knows the Oatmeal. Read about some serious drama he had with FunnyJunk.
Because drama and the jerks who start it tend to draw these things out for too long, read the update here.
Think it ended there? Not so much.
It’s Not Just About the Law, Have Some Manners Too:
Like I said, it’s about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Even if you are following DCMA guidelines, there is still a certain etiquette to follow. You can be doing everything legally, and still be acting like a jerk.
- The Decorated Cookie perfectly explains how “stealing” (plagiarizing) ideas themselves is a crummy and shallow thing to do.
Recognize this adorable cookie? Read about The Journey of Mr. Melty.
- Confessions of a Cookbook Queen offers us the perfect Bloggers’ Code of Ethics. This should apply to non-bloggers too!
- If you are a food blogger, photographer, or writer who wants to be part of a community for support, request an invitation to
It is for bloggers only, in order to provide a place of safety and freedom to speak among those who can be trusted. Well worth it!
Remember, if someone else created the work you are posting, try your best to give props. Mad props.