Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why You Shouldn't Copy and Paste Recipes to Your Blog

Food blogs are a lot of work.  More work than other blogs; you don't just sit down and write a post when you blog about food.  No, you are researching food trends, scouting out new recipes, then planning, shopping, and cooking the food.  You work on plating it, taking photographs, then downloading and tweaking the photos.  Sometimes I have to shoot things twice if the first batch don't turn out, which is pretty common this time of year when the light is bad.  Often my weekends are full of shopping, cooking, and taking photos so that I have content both for this blog and Yummy Mummy Club.

Afterwards, I sit down and write the recipe, and post.  Often I'm up very late at my laptop, typing well into the wee hours.   In total, each recipe on this site represents hours of work.

Many people are unsure about copyright laws and how they pertain to food blogs, and since I've had a number of people come and help themselves to my work here, I'm going to explain what readers are allowed, and not allowed to do with my work on Chasing Tomatoes.

You are allowed to:

-try the recipes in your kitchen (in fact, I hope you do!)
-post the recipe on your blog if YOU write the instructions in your own words and use your own photos.
-link to my site.
-print the recipes for your own personal use.  It's hard to cook in a kitchen via laptop!

Many of the recipes on my site are adapted from elsewhere.  This is because lists of ingredients can NOT be copyrighted.  Help yourself!  Make the recipe, re-blog it elsewhere.  I don't expect you to write "adapted from Chasing Tomatoes" if the recipe is something that I sourced from elsewhere and changed very little.  It would be nice of you to mention me, but I expect that you'll credit the original source, which is who I've credited.  However, there are recipes that I have come up with on my own, and with those it would be nice to be credited.

But read on to the ONE thing that stops you from straight copy/paste even if you include a link back.


-use my photos without my written permission
-copy and paste entire posts or recipes without my written permission

Here's where it gets trickier.  While you CAN use the ingredient lists, you can NOT just take the written instructions.  Those words are absolutely mine and protected by copyright.  Don't be lazy, write your own!  The photos are also protected by copyright, and belong to me.  I do NOT want them used anywhere without my written permission.  Ask!  If you are doing a post where you feature other's work, just let me know what you are doing, include a link back to the recipe, and many times, I will say yes.

Do not take posts, then leave a comment telling me "Thanks for sharing. I reposted this on my blog with a link back to you."  I have had this happen a bunch of times in the last year.  Asking after you've already take the post is still stealing.Then, it becomes awkward because I need to write you and convince you to take it down. Even if you have no malicious intent, it feels like my work is being held hostage and the likelihood of me ever giving you permission to use ANY of my work ever again is nil.

Is that the kind of blogger you want to be?

The first time this happened, a reader took an entire post and photo. When I protested and tried to explain copyright, they said that they just "borrowed it" to "make things easier for their readers".   Copying posts is not borrowing.  It doesn't make things better for their readers, it makes things easier for the blogger who is too lazy to come up with their own work. When I continued to protest, they removed the photo but kept the written recipe which is, in fact, mine.   They altered it slightly, probably so that I'd leave them alone.  In place of the photo they left a blurb which made me sound mean because I wouldn't let them use it.  If they had just asked first, I would have.  I even offered to guest post and write the beginning of the post to better suit their blog and allow them to leave it.  I wanted to be nice, really.

The second time, a reader took a post and when I emailed to explain copyright, they removed it and then began asking me for blogging advice on how to increase their traffic.  SERIOUSLY? Perhaps one should start with not using other people's work.  If you want advice about how to get traffic just email me, but don't take my words.

Someone else didn't leave a comment, but instead copied a post and added it to Yes, she did leave a link.  But those are MY words, not hers and she didn't ask me.

Another has left a comment saying they have re-posted one of my recipes on their blog with a link back, but no such link is to be found.

The bottom line is this: 

Just because things are on the Internet doesn't mean they are free for the taking. I will not be grateful that you have chosen to feature my work on your site, no matter how famous you are or how much traffic your site gets.  It doesn't matter if you add a link back and tell me after the fact, taking other people's work is stealing, plain and simple. 

Besides, I'm sure that you have a ton of fantastic ideas that I could never come up with.  You are fantastic and creative on your own, and the last thing you need to do is sell yourself short by copying someone else's work.  I will freely offer advice and support to people who are trying to establish themselves in the blogging world, but I won't give you my work.   That is personal.  It's the food shared around the table by my family, it's hours spent tweaking photos and words until they are just right, it's recipes perfected so that my readers will enjoy them at home.   It's a piece of ME.

Don't steal it.
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