Food Bloggers Fight Firestorm of Abusive Facebook Pages

Apr 022013
 

A group of food bloggers on Google+ has formed a group called PIPO, for Protect Intellectual Property Online, to inform each other of pages they’ve found that scrape recipes and photos. Susan Powers of Rawmazing wrote this guest post about the situation:

“Something ugly is happening on Facebook, and as a food blogger, I am not only disturbed, I am alarmed.

People are starting Facebook pages that copy photos and recipes from food blogs and repost them on their page, either without attribution or improper attribution. Some even go as far as to claim the photos and recipes are theirs. And some are actually threatening the food bloggers who contact them.

Typically, these page administrators create recipe collectives and post photos (even watermarked ones!) and complete recipes without permission. This is a copyright violation and violates Facebook’s Terms Of Service.

If this wasn’t bad enough, administrators of these Facebook pages encourage followers to “share” the recipe, which engages Facebook’s Edge Rank and throws their pages to the top of the pile. This sharing gets them thousands of “Likes” in just days. Some pages already have tens of thousands of followers after only a few days.

Some of these page administrators truly don’t understand that they are doing anything wrong. They, like millions of Internet users, wrongly assume that if it is on the Internet, it is free to use.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The minute an author, photographer or artist creates a work and hits publish, that work is automatically copyrighted. Many will go one step further and register their work, which makes legal prosecution easier, but it is not necessary. All photos are automatically copyrighted, not just the ones that are watermarked.

Food bloggers are finding out about these Facebook recipe collectives and taking exception to their work being stolen. They start by asking the page administrators to please link properly. Most bloggers don’t mind if the photo is linked to the recipe on their site. What they do object to is when the photo is scraped and the recipe is copied.

As we know, food bloggers work extremely hard on their blogs. It can take days to create and photograph a recipe, not to mention the cost of maintaining a blog. Some bloggers (me included) depend on readers coming to their blogs to create ad revenue. These Facebook pages encourage just the opposite. Why would you go to the blog when the whole recipe is right there on the page?

We all know that blogs are illegally copied. But now, food bloggers have been called called trolls, uglies, venomous, money grubbers, jealous, and so many other vulgar names I can’t repeat them here. Fans of the pages are ignorant of proper and ethical sharing, and they have written hundreds of comments vilifying food bloggers . The fans believe that any content published is free for the taking, and the page administrators are doing nothing wrong. Because the page administrator often deletes any comments that explain copyright or ask for proper linking, the fans see only one side of the story.

Some page owners are posting food bloggers’ personal information and the food bloggers are receiving threats. Many of the food bloggers who have complained have to monitor their blogs and pages as they come under attack. Some page administrators actually call for followers to go cause problems for these “terrible” bloggers who “just have evil in their hearts.”

These pages have hundreds of thousands of “Likes.” This isn’t a small problem.

Food bloggers who are fed up with the violation of their work have bonded together on Google+ to fight this problem. Some report the abusive pages to Facebook and have a little success. Unfortunately many are afraid to confront the violators because they become the target of abuse by page owners and the fans.

Food bloggers are working hard to have their work respected. The pages, however, are popping up faster than we can keep track. So if you’re a food blogger and you’re concerned, how do you find out if your food blog content is lifted? What can you do?

If you do find your recipes out there, first assume the person has no knowledge that what they did was wrong. Kindly ask them to link properly. If that doesn’t work, then report the post. Whatever you do, don’t stoop to the level of the people who are causing vicious smear campaigns by writing hateful emails or comments in return. The goal is to enlighten, not to enrage.”

(DJ: Thanks also to Jackie Garvin of Syrup and Biscuits for alerting me to this issue.)

(Photo by Freedigitalphotos.net)

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  200 Responses to “Food Bloggers Fight Firestorm of Abusive Facebook Pages”

  1. Thank you for this post and I am SO SICK of these groups taking my content and the content of other bloggers. It happens to me every day lately it seems. I am alerted from various readers, members of the group that has formed to combat this, and sometimes I find it on my own, but I am constantly reminded how much of my hard work is being reprinted and republished without permission. And all of our work. It’s happening soooo much.

    And then, not only does it happen on FB, but then other websites post it on their smaller sites claiming, well it was on the XYZ Recipe Page on FB. The if it’s there, it’s free for the taking mindset. It’s a negative time, energy, and resource suck on all levels. Sometimes I just have to let it go b/c I can’t control it all, nor can any of us. And it sucks up our time, good energy, and our creativity to police it.

    Thanks for this post, Dianne!

    • I know you have struggled with this issue for a long time, Avery. It does suck up a lot of time and energy. Some people are fierce about protecting their content, though. Probably it’s too much for people to deal with it every day.

      • Thank you so much for this eye-opening and provocative piece, Dianne. Two things come to my mind: first, I think a lot of the people who engage in this type of theft justify their actions be thinking of it as a ‘victimless crime’, which obviously couldn’t be further from the truth. Second, what makes me crazier than crazy is when social media sites, such as Facebook, become complicit in this stealing, or at least turn a blind eye because of what the sharing that these pages generate does for their bottom line, traffic-wise.

        I think it is really important, as much effort as it does take, to continue to remind the people that steal other’s work, that they ARE, in fact, breaking the law. And also remind social networking sites that they need to protect the VICTIMS of these crimes, no matter what it does to their traffic stats.

        At the end of the day, that’s the only way to make it stop.

  2. Dianne,

    Thank you for using your powerful voice to spread the word about this pervasive, disturbing trend. It seems to be growing by epic proportions. I hope every food blogger reading this will join PIPO and their efforts to report abusive pages. Dealing directly with the offending page owners will get you no where. In fact, it will work against you. The mindset of the readers who think the offending page owners are all sweetness and light and the content owners are bullies, is sad and disappointing. But, that is reality. FB has to police this situation AND take action. That’s the only remedy.

    • The question is, will Facebook really do anything about it? Is it based on how many people complain?

  3. Thanks for this. It gets a little disheartening when I see my friends called everything from jealous to satan while these pages are praised for bringing all the wonderful recipes to the fans.

  4. Wonderful article. I’m too small to get much notice for the most part but I’ve found a few of my photos strewn about the web and been called some lovely names when I asked for them to be taken down. Peoples ignorance about internet laws and etiquette is amazing.

  5. A much needed post. Thanks Dianne. Sadly, this is not unique to the food community. People will steal because it’s freely available online. Just because it’s there, does not mean it’s yours to grab and claim as your own. It’s a shame that it has come to the point where people feel the need to claim others’ work as their own.

    I agree that it takes an enormous amount of time developing a recipe that works well. In addition, it takes extra time to photograph our work and write up the words to go along with those processed photographs. I’ve never understood the current state of recipe attribution (or food blogs in general) and how people simply post the entire recipe on their blogs (even if they did bake or cook it and photograph it), some claiming it as their own whilst others including a hard-to-find link to the original post and stating they “slightly adapted” it. Those people then get featured and linked and praised as having the most awesome recipes on their site. Somehow, changing the amount of sugar from 1/2 cup to 1/2 cup+1 tbsp doesn’t count as your own recipe. You might have baked it, cooked it, and photographed it, but you did not create it. Although I’m guessing that’s another issue altogether.

  6. Such a fabulous post, thank you for saying everything I’ve been wanting to say for the past 2-3 weeks!

    • I’ll let Susan take the thanks! It’s wonderful to have someone who’s been involved with the Google+ group write this guest post.

  7. This has been a problem for many years. I see my photos all over the net for example. Unfortunately policing it is a huge time commitment with questionable results. Like Averie commented it is a huge waste of good energy and the problem won’t even be solved. In fact as has been mentioned policing it probably creates more problems in terms of brand negativity than is solved.

    One way we’ve turned this to our advantage is to use a service known as Tynt. With Tynt you install a line of code on your site and when someone copies your content an attribution link is automatically added. A good percentage of copiers leave the link in and now your blog has more links in, therefore improving your SEO position which increases your traffic. Tynt also has a lot of tracking data that comes from these attribution links. Go to tynt.com, it’s a free service. We have gotten tons of links in this way over the years. I installed Tynt years ago and have not given copying a second thought since.

    Another solution that we’ve done is moved to video. Video can’t be copied and if a blogger embeds our YouTube videos we get the ad revenue. If they rip the video, than they still can’t remove our logo or change Stephanie who presents the content. So we still get the branding credit and they likely will come to our site or YouTube channel for the recipe and more videos.

    • Wonderful to hear about this resource, Rick. It sounds like a terrific solution. It won’t stop anything, so you might as well get the benefit of increased traffic.

      As for video, it’s definitely the way of the future, but I don’t think most food bloggers are into it yet.

    • Tynt sounds like a great idea. I went to the site and signed up only to find that it doesn’t work on the wordpress platform due to limitations. Guess my little blog has to grow first :(

  8. thanks, Dianne – I will be sharing this post with everyone I know! we need to continue to publish and share these explanations, because as you said it is VERY clear many people need to know the right way to share, and stop being so fiercely loyal to the wrong way.

    • How wonderful of you, Kristina. Thanks. The right way to share is covered in the links Susan posted too.

  9. This was very well said. And, like Averie said, it does suck up needed time and energy that should be going into creating more content for our blogs – instead of monitoring content that already exists. Thank you for this wonderful post – it’s best to spread the word to end it! :)

    • Thank Susan — she has been sending me endless emails about what’s going on. So I asked her to write it. Definitely it was sucking up her time and energy, and I benefited from that!

  10. Thank you. Your posting this adds a lot of credibility to the issue.

    • I haven’t written much about stolen content, so it was good of Susan to cover this for me. She has been deeply involved in it.

  11. Thank you! i just wish Facebook could stop these thieves!

  12. Thank you (standing O) for this post!! I have shared it on my Facebook page. We have to get the word out and this is a wonderful way of doing it!!

  13. Thank you for this well written article. I actually dealt with this last week. One of my readers alerted me that my photo and recipe was copied verbatim on a Facebook page with no recognition. Once, I contacted her, she spammed my page and offered many threats including suing me! I filed a complaint through Facebook and she in turn took down my recipe. Since she has almost 200,000 likes, her followers support her to the fullest and blame the bloggers. Her page was full of many other bloggers recipes as well, who in turn filed complaints, too. This epidemic is really sad. I am prayerful that soon, we can stop it in its tracks.

    • Wow, what a mess, and very stressful. I hope all the other bloggers complained to Facebook as well.

  14. Thank you for this post and the info about PiPO–I just asked to join. To my horror, I found my content used without my permission on Facebook. I reported it *and* am glad to say this page’s content was removed. Not just mine–ALL of it. However, I have learned that this page admin intends to take the group underground and keep doing the same. I did notice she started attributing work with backtrack links, but she has also said she is putting all the pics back up after she “watermarks” them. I posted a comment over there that regardless of what she tacks on, metadata and EXIF data can always prove who owns the rights. Hopefully that got through to her. I seem to doubt it…

    Anyway, I have started visibly watermarking my pics with a faint almost transparent watermark that goes right through the centre of the photo, so that will be hard if not impossible to remove AND I have disabled right clicking on my site. That probably will stop the less tech savvy of them, but it won’t stop it all. I would urge all of you to adopt this practice.

    • Interesting idea. I’ve heard that some people are posting the photos with watermarks visible! That takes nerve, eh?

  15. @tiajuana–I suspended letting the public post on my Facebook fan page after some nutjob, who obviously did not know how Pinterest worked, unleashed an all-cap tirade that I was “cyberstalking” her. Now only comments on posts are allowed and you have to “like” the page to do that.

    I refuse to let these thieves intimidate me…and no one has….yet.

  16. Amen! It has turned into an epidemic on Facebook. Not sure why Facebook has not shut down their page. They are pretty quick to shut down others who violate their terms. If they would just post a picture with a linkback, most bloggers would not mind (I know I don’t mind) and the extra traffic to the originating site would be appreciated.

    • Well, it’s not just one page. It’s dozens of pages, and maybe they don’t do anything about it until several people complain.

      Yes, the solution is quite simple, isn’t it? Obviously they don’t want people to leave their page.

  17. Hugely informative post and comments relevant to all writers/editors using Facebook for their creative output. Question: Does copyright only begin when something is ‘published’? Or is that a U.S./Canada difference. I am pretty sure that in Canada that the producer/creator has copyright from the moment you paint a picture, compose a piece of music, write a short story or article or blog. No publication required. Fight the good fight, PIPO.

    • Yes I believe that is true here as well. That’s what Susan said in her post. Except of course that recipes are much more complicated, as only parts of them are copyrightable. Thanks Caroline.

    • Let me jump in here. That’s a very good question, Caroline. I have posted a longer post below explaining who I am, so I’ll skip that here. US copyright laws automatically protect a recipe as soon as it takes shape in written form. It does not have to be published to be protected. For anyone who is interested I recommend Circular 1 Copyright Basics at www dot copyright dot gov.

  18. What a great article! I’m a corporate writer and have been an ally for food bloggers on Facebook during this firestorm. I’m very familiar with copyright laws as it pertains to my fields of writing, photography, and graphic design.

    The US Copyright Office (copyright dot gov) has a page devoted to Recipes. A quick search will find it. I highly recommend reading it. In a nutshell, it says that ingredient lists cannot be copyrighted, but directions and photographs are protected. (Why not ingredients? Because facts cannot be copyrighted, and ingredients are considered to be facts.)

    The information given by the Copyright Office about recipes is difficult for many people to understand. In fact, some people will actually assert that the Copyright Office’s says that recipes are not subject to copyright. Instead of arguing with them, I recommend pointing this out: The US Copyright Office GIVES DIRECTIONS ON HOW TO SUBMIT RECIPES FOR REGISTRATION. Therefore, recipes are subject to copyright protection. Period. I guarantee you that the US Copyright Office will not register something that is not copyrightable. This is the definitive answer on the subject.

    Some people may tell you that directions cannot be copyrighted because methods are not copyrightable. It is true that methods are not copyrightable. However that really isn’t a problem for food bloggers. Let me give you an example of a method: there is a method to cracking an egg. Once that egg is cracked there is another method for separating the yolk from the white. No one owns the method. You don’t need permission or have to pay royalties to crack an egg, or write about cracking or separating an egg. But how you describe that method in writing is protected by copyright, as long as it is in your own words and not copied from some other source.

    Bottom line, copyright is all about protecting the person who did the work, wrote the book, took the photo, composed the music, or developed the recipe. Other people cannot make money for themselves off your hard work, without permission or payment of some sort. This is the difference between a private person downloading your recipe for dinner tomorrow night, and a Facebook page that presents other people’s recipes as their own and talks about publishing a cookbook of “their” recipes. Copyright protects your hard work and future revenue, whether or not you make any money, ever.

    And last but not least: When your report copyright infringement to Facebook, be calm, do not resort to name calling, and give Facebook screen shots of the recipes side by side, as well as any other pertinent posts. Also, if this applies, mention that the person is also spreading misinformation about copyright laws to their fans. This shows the seriousness of the problem and Facebook is more likely to step in sooner rather than later.

    Good luck, and remember that your fans, like me, very much enjoy and appreciate your hard work.

    • Thanks for the great explanation of this, Tammy. Unfortunately many of the people who are doing the copyright infringement only read the the first part and think that they are completely in the clear. I wish more people had your understanding. :-)

      • Thank you, Susan. Unfortunately, the US Copyright Office uses very precise language, and the words they use have very precise definitions., so it’s not very user friendly. To make matters worse, the first six words of the very first sentence says, “Copyright law does not protect recipes … ” and that’s what people see and quote, instead of “Copyright law does not protect recipes **that are mere listings of ingredients.**” (Emphasis is mine.)

        Your article is excellent, Susan. Knowledge is power, and your article helps to empower your fellow food bloggers. Keep up the good work! :)

  19. Have you seen this blog post by Cookistry? I think it’s a really great post to share with people who might not understand the impact of what they are doing. Not everyone, but there are a lot of users who share without realizing they are doing anything wrong. I think Cookistry’s blog post puts it in an analogy that anyone can understand. Thought you might like it:
    http://www.cookistry.com/2013/03/can-we-talk-about-sharing.html

  20. Thank you so much for bringing this up. I face the same problem of people stealing my recipes and pictures from my blog and on FB. People just dont realise that what they do is wrong and that they are actually stealing our work which takes so much time, effort, hard work and a lot of research.

    • Exactly, Bridget. Now you have to decide what you want to do about it. It’s a question of time, energy, stress level, what you think is right and morale, etc.

  21. What I want to know is how these “recipe” pages get so many fans so quickly.

    • I was wondering the same thing. It almost sounds like they’re buying them, but why?

      • I think I figured out how she/they make money….after gaining the trust of her readers with sad stories and bible verses, she shares with her readers her “Favorite” kinkade-esque painter/photographer….a few times people will ask her where THEY to can purchase one of these masterpieces! She connects the link directly to his site…commission? I also saw a post about “her” “beautiful” fire screen…..she saw the SAME fire screen on amazon for sooo much less! Guess what? There was a link to amazon. I have no problem with affiliate programs…but state it up front! What do you think?

        • For real? That’s almost funny! It makes we want start an experiment. What if I just reposted all her stuff–puppies, prayers, and bad paintings. (One of my tech colleages says their click-through goes up an astronomical amount if they preface it with a funny/cute/sad cat or dog pic.) Once I get 200,000 Kincaide lovers, we can go storm her gates! Sounds like fun times, and I should make some money in the process. Shall we forge ahead?

          • I also think she’s feeling the heat about her stolen “precious sleeping baby” photos. I think she suspects that it’s only a matter of time before the pros photogs start busting her, because she has a “new and brilliant” idea! “I know! How about if I give YOU guys bragging rights and you can start sharing YOUR precious baby pictures?!” want to bet as soon as she gets plenty of her fan’s pictures, the stolen pics come down?

  22. I have to say that I truly had no idea about all of this. I am a food blogger, I do put a lot of work into what I do and while a lot of my recipes are original, I always try to link back to the blogger who gave me the idea for that recipe, if that’s the way it plays out and my friends say I’m ridiculous for it, but I don’t think so. Thanks for the info…now I know what to look for. Oh…if someone stole one of my food photos, they would have to be truly desperate because I photograph inside with RV lighting and it’s not pretty, but, on the other hand, if it happened with one of my recipes that I busted my butt to create, I’d be super hacked.

    • Laurrie, it is a huge problem. I think it helps to understand just how many food bloggers are experiencing it. Linking back is a wonderful way to acknowledge where your inspiration came from.

  23. As Natalija said, this is not unique to the food community, nor is it a problem that began with online content. This is piracy, which is an issue that has been going on for a long time, even with print books.

    In addition to being a food/non-fiction writer, I’m also a fiction writer and this is something that I’ve been dealing with in that world as well. People actually have taken print books (when digital ones weren’t available) and scanned EVERY page and uploaded them for piracy. Considering that in many cases, the pirates were not getting any money for these copies, I couldn’t understand why they would go to so much trouble.

    It goes to show you that people will do what they want to do regardless of laws, rights, ethics, or anything else. There’s not much we can do about piracy but we try to make it as difficult for the pirates as possible.

    • Roberta, you are correct. As a professional food blogger and a professional photographer, the theft of IP is rampant. I agree. Addressing the situation is a place to start! Thanks.

  24. I think that Facebook has a right to enforce its own terms and conditions…but it doesn’t seem to have the will. I reported an infringement of a brand name for a client the other day. Some one had set up a personal page using their company name and the logo. The process to report this via Facebook is frankly opaque and I kept getting the option of writing to the page owner only. In such cut and dried cases as these (and the frankly shocking cases you report) surely Facebook should take the site down with immediate effect. This post really made me think about blogging in a way I never have before. It’s extremely depressing.

    • Facebook does take action but it can be slow to none in some circumstances. The person who’s brand is being infringed will have a much better chance of having it taken down if they report it. FB doesn’t usually respond to third parties.

  25. Last night my copy and paste report came in from Tynt (see my comment above on Tynt) and I thought I’d share some of the numbers. In the last 30 days content was copied and pasted from our site 115,078 times. I had actually forgotten how big this problem is. That means that content left our site close to 3 times per minute over the last month. Now I ask, what it would take to adequately police that much copying? That’s why I concluded years ago that policing copying was a waste of time.

    Bloggers thinking of fighting this could spend every waking minute fighting copying and not even put a dent in the problem. My conclusion was and still is that it is better to build your brand to a point where your audience doesn’t want to get your content anywhere else. But that too takes a lot of work and if you spend all your time searching for and calling out copiers you won’t be working on things that will really make a difference to your success. To be frank I think the chances of this group having any impact on the problem is like trying to stem a rising tide with a thimble.

    • The good news is that they are having an impact. A huge national corporation has instructed their sales force in the proper way to share. Many pages have changed how they are doing things. I agree that it is important to keep doing what we need to be doing but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed. No major change ever occurs if people just look the other way.

      Much of our most important social change had to start somewhere. The power of a few voices can be immense. As more and more people become educated on how to share, more and more people will do it correctly.

      • I agree that is is feasible to stop companies from taking content. Companies are very concerned about negative press and legal issues. But from my experience that represents only a very small portion of the copying. Individuals that don’t care about PR and being shamed are the problem and I don’t see how that can be stopped due to the shear numbers. But I wish you luck!

    • “My conclusion was and still is that it is better to build your brand to a point where your audience doesn’t want to get your content anywhere else.”

      I have come to this conclusion as well. That old Steve Martin quote: be so good that they can’t ignore you….

  26. Great post Dianne, thanks for bringing more light to this tough and heartbreaking issue!

    • Thanks for the comment, Casey. It is a heartbreaking issue and I am very appreciative of Dianne for encouraging me to write about it here and supporting the cause by posting.

  27. Though it is an incredible time suck, I think it’s important that all food bloggers pursue this issue when they find their content has been stolen. For the most part, it is pointless and even detrimental to go after them yourself – because they do so often send their followers to mess with your blog. Simply report them to Facebook. Facebook will apparently remove the content you tell them about, but to have the whole page removed takes a LOT of complaints. It is going to take persistence on our part to see this problem resolved.

    • Donalyn, you are correct. It can be an incredible time suck but I have found that compartmentalizing helps. I set aside a period of time when I want to deal with this and try to keep it out of my daily schedule. But, I don’t always succeed. Thanks for the comment.

  28. I’ve spent the last week reporting copyright violations to Facebook. FB takes the offending photo/content down but they’re not doing anything to the pages who are posting the content as their own.

    The thing that pains me the most is the reader comments. These pages are painting themselves as the victims and their followers rally behind them saying things like “if the bloggers didn’t want it shared, they shouldn’t have put it on the internet!” and “recipes don’t belong to anyone’85 they’re all handed down from mothers and grandmothers!” or “just because you cook something and take a picture of it, doesn’t make it yours!”

    To address these most common sentiments’85 Regarding sharing ’96 the very best thing in the world to a food blogger is for our recipes and photos to be shared but shared properly where credit is given where it’s due. Our goal is to drive traffic to our blogs so poaching our content without simply listing a link to our blog cuts our feet out from under us.

    Regarding recipe origin ’96 it’s true that many of our recipes were inspired by another recipe but that’s our story to tell. All of us either cite the source of inspiration (whether it be another blogger, a family recipe, etc.) and that’s part of what we offer ’96 the story behind the recipe. And some of them are 100% original recipes that we conceptualized and attempted and tested and perfected.

    Regarding the recipe/photo being ours ’96 ummm’85 yes, it is. I explained it to someone like this the other day’85 Suppose you planned a baby shower for your sister. You spent weeks researching party themes, recipes, games, etc. Then you spent your time and money to buy all the supplies and bring your party to life. You printed the custom invitations, you cleaned your house, you decorated, you bought the flowers, you cooked the food, you imagined how you wanted it to be and you made it happen. You took dozens and dozens of photos of the big day and picked that one perfect picture that encompassed all your hard work and shared it on your Facebook page. Then a few days later you discover that a Facebook page had shared your photo and implied that it was their idea, their party, their home, their photo and their sister. And then you read all the reader comments like, “Your home is beautiful!” and “Those cupcakes are precious!” and “You and your sister are gorgeous!” and “You’re going to be an awesome aunt!” and “I wish you could plan MY baby shower!” And the page owner never corrected anyone and took all the credit. How would that make you feel?

  29. The last week in February, LinkedIn Food Bloggers Connection had a ton of back and forth on this very subject. Extremely useful. (I just rec’d your post this morning, so have not read all the comments; perhaps someone has already mentioned this. I saved the most pertinent info, if you’re interested.)

  30. Actually, here’s the problem. Recipes can not be copywrited, only the literary expression of that recipe (the way the instructions are worded and any pictures or diagrams with it). You can have the exact same exact same ingredients list, but as long as the wording on the actual instructions is changed and they don’t use your pictures or diagrams, anyone can copy your recipe legally. I’m not makign this up…it’s right on the US copyright website: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl122.html

    It does protect the pictures used with recipes, but not the recipe itself. Of course I think it’s good manners to link to and credit your source, even if you do reword the instructions to comply with copywrite. I don’t often post recipes on my own sites (I’ve only posted three…one was an old family recipe, one I asked permission to use, and one was a recipe that was used in ancient times I used on a Squidoo page about life in Bible times, and I did reword it as well as adding historical info, and I linked to and credited my source.

    • The list of ingredients can not be copyrighted but any expression of the ingredients (how to make the recipe, instructions) and photos are. So, when these sites copy the ingredients and instructions, they are violating copyright.

    • It’s a common misconception that recipes cannot be copyrighted. The US Copyright Office website page listed above actually gives directions on how to submit a recipe for registration. Therefore, recipes are protected by copyright, otherwise the Copyright Office would not register them. What confuses folks the most is that the list of ingredients cannot be *protected* by copyright as they are considered to be facts, and facts are not copyrightable. Technically, the title is not protected either. But the written instructions, photographs, and drawings/illustrations are indeed protected. If someone chooses to register their recipes they would of course include the ingredients list. But there is nothing illegal about someone taking the very same ingredient list and creating a recipe with their own instructions, photographs, and drawings.

      • The problem is that she is cutting and pasting recipes VERBATIM and attaching the photos(not hers) to the recipe w/o a link. I use recipes all the time, but I always credit, and use the words, “based on”, “inspired by”, “adapted from”, or something else, depending on how much of the recipe I’ve changed. Even if I change a recipe a lot, I still credit the original source, unless it’s a classic that I learned in cooking school…and then I state that.

        • Using a recipe verbatim without permission or credit is absolutely copyright infringement. No question about it. I’m not a food blogger, but I’m an ally. I spent the better part of last week standing up to Facebook bullies and reporting copyright infringement.

          • Unfortunately she’s going to take her thieving ways underground now!

          • Cynthia, I saw that too. I’m blocked now for my efforts, as are many other people, and she’s cross-checking group members against her block list. Let’s hope for a whistleblower.

          • Please note that there are MANY sites that are doing this. And more are springing up every day.

  31. Has anyone considered getting a copyright attorney to shut this down? Cease and desist letters are only about $150.

    • Hi Nancy – Yes, I have, but fortunately, I haven’t had to take it that far just yet. Usually, a few strongly worded emails or a reach out to a website’s legal team (if it is a bigger site) have resolved the issue.

      You might want to consider having a friend who is a lawyer to help you draft a few emails that you can send out to cover these issues. What has not been mentioned here is that your web content is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which I site in my emails. That also gives you grounds to reach out to an offending site’s web host service to get them shut down for stealing your material.

      Kathy

      • What I sight is site used instead of cite.
        Don’t you just love a homonym.
        I thought this discussion needed some light relief,
        or is that lite?

  32. What about people who take pictures of other people’s work and then post them on Facebook as their own work? I find this just as alarming, but does it fall under the same guidelines? I’m a culinary student and we have this problem with some students and we want to stop it but not sure what to do? A lot of the students are starting to make web-sites to show their work to prospective employers but some are now hesitant, we also wonder if they are showing our work to employers!

    • @Mary, it is both illegal and unethical to claim a photo as one’s own. I too, went to culinary school, but in the early 80’s, long before the Internet and sharing. And yes, we often took photos of finished dishes for future reference. May I suggest a super simple way to protect your own photos, especially those you quickly snap with your iPhone? Get the Camera plus app or some other camera app for your phone, add a simple border and use the caption area to add your name/watermark. I do this for my page when I am sharing a quick photo or idea…I once snapped a water pic/recipe and it got something like 70 shares, but my name was not on it…now even my iPhone photos are watermarked.

      • If I understand correctly, you are talking about a creation you made, let’s say a cake. Someone takes a picture of your cake and then posts it on the web as theirs. I know this is completely unethical but I honestly don’t know if it would fall under copyright. Dianne?

        • Seriously? I think I’ll start taking some professional food photographers photos…’cause, you know they are WAAY better at taking pictures of food than I am….and in any case, I went to cooking school so I CAN actually cook…and maybe I made that cake before….but it wasn’t quite as pretty as the one that Joe Pro took…what differences does it make? It’s called stealing!

          • Cynthia…taking professional photographers pictures is a violation of copyright and can land you in a heap of trouble. What I said is if Joe takes a picture of the cake that Mary just made (not Mary’s photo) and publishes it as though he made the cake, that isn’t ethical. I do not know if it violates copyright because nothing about the cake was ever published. If anyone knows, I would love to hear.

  33. Interestingly, I ran across this clip of a Tina Brown interview just after reading this column. So readers don’t respect content, and the business side doesn’t respect content … who’s left?

    http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/tina-brown-we-do-not-have-enough-respect-for-content-anymore_b79825

    • Excellent clip, Howard. I think you have a point. But as long as the creators of the content are willing to stand up and be proud of what they created, we have a chance.

  34. WOW, I had no idea. That is really scary. Like you said, it takes days to create a good post and image of a recipe. To have someone do that without any consideration to the maker is totally and unequivocally wrong. I am an LLC, which gives me further protection but that won’t stop someone from doing something like this. I am heart sick over this.

  35. One of the members of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance posted this to our group page today (thanks Vindaloo) and I hope everyone reads this. AFBA promotes ethical blogging and this would be a good resource for our members. Thank you Diane and Susan!

  36. The topic of copyright/plagarism/content theft was also widely discussed at the most recent Roger Smith Cookbook Conference. The panels are available to watch on video at http://cookbookconf.com/.

  37. Thanks for this article. I guess I fly under the radar because as far as I know this isn’t happening to me. But I do know that the photographer/writer owns copyright when they publish something. I have a copyright note on my site but I think I need to put a little more legal on it. Watermarks become useless now because if people want your image they will photoshop it out. People think they are entitled to get anything they want for free. I don’t know how this can be stopped at this point but I hope someone can figure out a way.

    • The bloggers in the PIPO group are working on that, Linda. And then Rick Jaworski has a different approach where he manages the theft with free software, so take a look at his comment as well.

  38. Re my previous comment, I should also add by way of full disclosure that I spoke on the panel at that conference regarding content theft from the point of view of a blogger who has had photos and entire posts lifted off of my page. The panelists discussed their best practices and how attribution should be made for using previously published content and what they do when they find their material has been lifted by another source.

  39. Question: if you find a recipe that inspires you but you won’t use half the ingredients or follow all steps because of your family preference (i.e. spices, beans, etc..) and than blog about that (because it truly is a great recipe/idea!), cite in the opening paragraph who gave you inspiration for the recipe (with a link), use your own photographs, your own wording is this okay?? Or does this violate copyright rules? I just want to make sure I am doing this right!

    • I think you are pretty safe, Carla. But it is always nice to let people know what recipe inspired you.

      • I try to as much as possible, some recipes are so fantastic (and creative!) that you have to tell them. I have not done this often (only twice where a recipe really inspired me to make my own version) but really want to make sure I am doing it correctly if I do so. Thanks!

  40. So…where did you get the “fire” photo for this post? Is it copyrighted? I’ve always found it dismaying that photographers ALWAYS get credit (in magazines anyway), but recipe developers do not. It’s not a copyright issue, but…

    • Rita, to answer your question, Dianne posted the photo and credited the source at the end of the article. And please don’t be dismayed…photographers work is stolen constantly and used without permission. As a professional photographer, I am well aware of this.

      And much of what you see when magazines give credit to the photographer, well let me just say, there are a ton of magazines out there now that don’t even pay photographers. They offer “credit” for the photo. Unfortunately, it is really hard to pay the bills with that credit.

    • There is a whole mega-industry called “Stock Photos.” It’s world-wide and exists to serve the publishing community — newspapers, magazines, and even websites, to name a few. Some of the photos require payment to use, others can be used for free, and some can be used for free under certain circumstances. Stock photos are often more economical than hiring a pro photographer to custom shoot a photo for you. I don’t know where this particular photo came from, but it certainly looks like a stock photo. Stock photos do not necessarily require photographer credit. The terms of usage are typically listed under “usage” or “licensing” at the website.

  41. I am glad someone has brought this topic to the table but sadly it is not just food blogs. It is also in the farming/homesteading arena as well. It is sad that others knowingly take and do not give credit. I work hard doing what I do and yes, I do it for me, not to get rich (cause I don’t make anything LOL) but to have someone just take from you is like a slap in the face.

  42. I apologize, since I am not able to read all of the comments on this post, therefore what I have to say may be redundent. I imagine that recipe bloggers must realize their recipes are up for grabs whenever they post them on the internet. I’ve been amazed at the identical recipes I’ve seen posted on several different blogs. This is nothing new–it’s been going on for years. Sometimes, the lifters change the list of ingredients. Sometimes they don’t. Same goes for the method. It amazes me. Some rarely give any credit at all. All I can say is that this fire is already out of control. There is probably no way to put it out at this stage of the game.

    • Candace, we have been making huge strides. And educating people to understand that just because something is on the internet doesn’t mean it is “up for grabs” is the first step.

      Thanks for the comment.

  43. I’ve been a photographer a lot longer than I’ve been a food blogger so this is definitely not a new issue for me. But two weeks ago I attended a day long seminar on business for photographer with three internationally known professional photographers and the question of on-line theft came up several times. All three said that unless it’s a major corporation using their work for ad purposes, they let it go. All three would rather put their energies into doing new work. One did mention however, that under new Canadian Copyright Law, removing a watermark from an image without permission now has a minimum compensation award to the photographer that makes it worth pursuing legal action. I don’t know the details as of yet (I am Canadian) but that seems like a step in the right direction.

    I can’t help but wonder why nobody has pursued legal action against some of the bigger offenders. I know it’s expensive but, perhaps having a lawyer write a notice of infringement to Facebook on behalf of a group would carry more weight than just reporting the situation as individuals.

    • Thanks, Melissa,

      As a photographer, I know that photo theft is rampant. And hugely misunderstood. Baby steps are being taken and legal action has not been ruled out. You are right about the price tag, though.

  44. I have been following this whole thing since one of the worst offenders was called out on a professional FB group. Has anyone noticed that a prolific cookbook author/blogger has apparently joined forces with the WH site? Mercenary or self defense? Ack.

    • Jeanne,
      I’m guessing it must be mercenary. There was another blogger who ‘befriended” Marty as well, Marty made a HUGE public post about how terrific she was, and how all her 180K followers needed to like her FB page to show “the vultures” (us) how they could have had all those followers if they’d just played nice. She posted many of her pictures and recipes with the links after the copy and paste…when XYZ blog gently tried to corrects her…she was GONE from the WH site. poof!

      • Ack. Bad behavior all around. This is a mess. Before last week, I had no ideas these FB pages existed and were so popular.

  45. Diane,
    That is exactly what I’m saying. There is a particular student that takes pictures of everything and has been seen taking credit for someone else’s work. She was confronted, but denied it.
    I have taken cookies, cupcakes… In to share with other students, they were highly decorated and took a lot of time and effort, this student took pictures, I’m kind of waiting to hear that she has been seen taking credit for them. Not only did the student take pictures but took “extras to take to family”. Students are getting very angry and it is going to lead to some big problems. No one wants to complain to the Chef’s because the solution is going to be NO PICTURES, and that will unfair to those who are ethical!

    • I forgot to mention that I have looked up this persons FB page and conveniently all the photos except a few family pictures are blocked/private. There are albums that says there are hundreds of pictures in them but I’m unable to view them. The person seems to know the game of not getting caught by fellow students!

      • Hi, Mary, This is Susan, the woman who wrote the post above. I added a comment to your question above. I will look into it but if the pictures aren’t being published anywhere I even though it isn’t ethical, I do not know if it is an actual copyright violation. I will see what I can find out.

        • That’s part of the problem also, we think that she puts it on her page immediately and we would like to use photos of OUR work for OUR page for prospective employers to see. If she puts a picture out there first, is the person who the work belongs to going to get in trouble for trying to publish their own work?
          Tonight at school I had one of the instructors approach me about some work I possibly going to do over the summer under the states cottage law, the person who we have the problem with was listening. After the instructor walked away she ran to me telling me I didn’t have follow the laws…This gave me the opportunity to ask her some questions about how she does things. I found out she does block her photos from certain people, and she has “followers” Not ” friends”. She didn’t give up to much information but enough to tell me she has no ethics whatsoever, which is a subject that we are lectured on very often by all the Chefs!

    • Ask the chef to speak with her, since whoever talked to her beforehand had no effect. Tell him all this. “No photos” is an extreme solution that will make everyone unhappy, so I’m guessing the school won’t go for that.

  46. If you find your texts and/or images in an iOS app for iPhones or iPads (check the recipes apps for your work!), you can report the application at
    http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/appstorenotices/

  47. Thank you so much for putting out this article, Dianne in behalf of all of us who genuinely work hard to produce good content, real recipes, honest to goodness real home cooking on our blogs. I have been enjoying myself on my blog creating recipes and recreating those that inspire me, then posting all of it on a weekly basis. Lately, it has become disheartening to post anything original from my mom’s archives because I find it is those that are sort of “from the family’s original recipes” that are prey to recipe scrapers (pardon the pun), lifters, plagiarists and what have you. A few weeks ago, I got an email from this person who wanted to “SHARE” every recipe post I had on my Facebook page (recipes from my blog) on her own Facebook page. That she had the courtesy to inform me was somewhat ok, but then her intention of merely “curating’ everyone else’s on her page seemed disturbing and downright lazy. I’ve ranted long enough and didn’t mean to. I commend everyone’s views on the comment thread here. I’ve shared your article on my social media, properly attributing to you of course. I hope that the people concerned get to understand that “just because it’s on the internet, it’s not fair game for anyone to take freely.” Thanks for sharing, Dianne!

    • Thank you, Betty Ann. I am glad you liked the article. I too thank Dianne for encouraging me to write it and for publishing it here. There are so many food bloggers that feel so awful about everything that is happening.

  48. It would be so easy if http://www.facebook.com would just have it optional to disable the Share button on facebook pages and give us the ability to disable the left and right click to copy (my website does this). Then it’s up to the blogger to decide whether they want to “Share” their photos or not. Simple.. Whatup Facebook????

    • Barbara, The share button is huge for Facebook. I doubt they would ever disable that. Especially since so many people use it correctly and love it. As far as disable right click…there are SO many ways around that. Screen shots, programs that let you pull anything off of your screen like jing…I wish it were that easy. It is not.

  49. Just a couple days ago, before I read this post, I spotted a photo from my blog on someone’s FB page, with no credit, no link. I added to “comments”, saying, hey, this is my photo, here’s the link to the blog. It didn’t seem quite as blatant as “piracy.” The FB page administrator “liked” my comment. Am I being naive? or can we educate folks, one by one, not to use photos/recipes/text without permission and credit?

  50. Many are being educated! That is the great part. Unfortunately, many have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar and are putting up a fight to try to prove their hand wasn’t in the cookie jar.

  51. Dianne this came just at the right time for me. I had my first every viral Facebook post (of a cake I created on the blog) and have seen it pop up on a few pages with no link back to my blog.
    I know some people probably don’t realise that they’re doing anything wrong but for the others, it’s just plain unfair of them. After using the Google image search I found yet another one. This one has 21000 fans and the image has been shared 57 times with no link to my blog :-(

    • Claire, congratulations on the wonderful recipe but believe me when I say, you are not alone. You can contact Facebook and ask them to take it down. Also, you can try putting up a link and a comment, but that is a long shot.

  52. These are the kinds of issues that we are blissfully unaware of when we start blogging. Once we discover them, oh boy, does it suck the joy out of blogging. Even when folks are not being horrific as some of these FB page owners are being (I’ve seen the exchanges and how awful we’re being made out to be), it’s extremely hard to get everyone to fully acknowledge responsibility and understand the issues. I just shared this post on both my personal FB and blog FB page and an apparently sympathetic person told me that unfortunately it’s hard to show copyright when you cut and paste. Aaaargh. So then you have to respond, the point is DON’T cut and paste. Ever. Period.

    Thanks for the post and the info on the Google+ group! Have sent off my request to join. :-)

    Shirley Braden

    • Hi, Shirley, It is frustrating and does take much of the joy out of blogging. Hope to see you in the group. The public is so blissfully unaware of what they are doing, but many do know. Hopefully my article will educate people.

  53. As if it’s not enough that we have to keep an eye open for content scraping onto other blog sites! I’m shocked at this sort of behaviour, and very disappointed. Food blogging should be fun and interesting – not a constant source of anxiety.

    • Amanda, I agree completely. It is becoming a constant source of anxiety. We are seeing new pages popping up constantly and somehow collecting obscene amounts of “likes” in days. Something is fishy and I hope by bringing light to all of this, we can start to curb it.

      • There is a blogger out there who did the same to me im not a bloggerbut i did take my own picture created my own recipe & shred it amongts my peers these bloggers hv banned against only to find that a bloggera a bushel.basketscraped the picture used my exact recipe & posted in her blog wheres the justice in that it wasnt watermarked before she used itbut my moms arm was in the picture so she def couldnt claim it as hers yet she did how is that just & right it doeswork both ways apparrently so idk whf to say

        • Sorry to read this, Cynthia. It’s a pretty common practice and it sure doesn’t feel good when it happens. I hope you’ve asked her to remove it.

  54. Heh, maybe we can paste this post into the comment section of a stolen recipe post. ;)

  55. This totally sucks and it is hard to fight but by banding together we are stronger. I will share this amongst my food blogging friends and facebook page and hopefully we can all help each other. Anyone with a blog knows the hours of unpaid work involved and this works against our chances of seeing a monetary return. Pasting this post into the comment section of a stolen recipe post is a great idea Stephanie.

  56. This is crazy, its amazing what some people will do!
    I am joining the Google+ Group PIPO now. Thanks for sharing this. :-)

  57. It is crazy. I am glad that you are going to join the group.

  58. I’ve found so much of my content stolen in the last year, and it’s infuriating. I actually had a guy steal the photo from the cover of my published cookbook along with the article in my post. He then asked ME to prove that I held the copyright and that the words in my article were mine before he would remove them from his site. It’s hard to believe that people like that are out there, but they seem to be multiplying faster than I can keep up with. Some days, I just have to ignore it and do what matters. Work on my blog, interact with my readers, and be thankful that the majority doesn’t abuse what I have to offer. Truthfully, I could spend weeks on end chasing down my content. But at the end of the day, you have to choose your battles.

    I only wish that Facebook would step up and enforce their own rules. The fact that they have been contacted about these pages and haven’t acted is just ridiculous. I know of one FB page owner that got so upset about being confronted that she decided to move everything into a private group where nobody could see what she was taking and sharing (without credit, of course). The fact that she is allowed to do that and FB hasn’t shut her down yet is wrong on every level. It almost seems that Facebook uses a lottery system to decide who they will go after and who they won’t. I find that very sad when the infringements are so blatant.

    • That is what is making so many food bloggers so frustrated. The lack of FB shutting down these pages. They have punished them (many have lost thousands of likes), and taken down reported posts but not the page when violation after violation has occurred.

      • I agree. It’s maddening. They won’t enforce their own policies.
        The only thing we can do is continue to educate and hope to change the minds of all those followers who defend the people who run these pages. The more people understand what’s really happening, the more of a chance we have at getting people to remove stolen content.

        I wrote a blog post on “how to steal a recipe” (I’m not trying to self-promote in any way) and it’s amazing the responses that I got. But I have to say that the majority of responses were from people who honestly didn’t know they were doing something wrong, and many were just confused, asking if it was okay to pin my recipes. I think as bloggers we have to speak out about this issue as much as possible and be very, very specific about what is okay and what is not.

  59. I’m sorry…but I don’t think the offending sites are stupid…just immoral. Long before I knew what was, “legal”, I knew in my heart what was “right”. People know what’s ethical…they just choose to hide under a cloak of ignorance.

    • Cynthia, I agree. But there are the occasional people who honestly think it is ok. That is why it is important to approach kindly at first. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. If they are open, you can educate. Most immediately get hostile. That is the time to report.

      • Yes, Susan, I agree. Last October, I found a smaller page doing this same thing. I knew the photos and recipes were not hers. I began google searching and contacted about 10 site owners to notify them about their stolen work…they in turn asked her to remove or properly link back. She was hostile at first, but then she began to link and credit, realizing she could get just as much mileage doing it the right way.

  60. Thank you, Dianne. I forwarded this to my food blogger community in Austin, TX. I enjoy your blog and really benefit from your insights. Thanks so much for all you do and for sharing with us!

    • You are most welcome and thanks for the forward and for taking the time to comment. (This particular insight is brought to you by Susan Powers of Rawmazing, BTW. I rarely have guest posts and I’m glad you enjoyed it.)

  61. Diane, great post! As someone who writes about this from the legal side I’m always amazed at how many people just don’t know that what they’re doing is wrong when it comes to “sharing” content. I wonder how did they get through school not knowing what plagiarism is, even though plagiarism isn’t illegal. But surely they had to have been told at some point that taking another person’s work was wrong.

    Then, of course, there is a completely different group who just don’t give a rat’s tush what the law is they’re going to do what they want to do. Those are more likely the groups popping up on FB, Tumblr, Pinterest, and sometimes even their own sites. These people know the law, don’t care about it, and dare you to do something about it so they can turn it in to a giant flame war.

    The DMCA is a very powerful tool, but there are limitations. One of those limitations is website administrators being unable to process DMCA Takedown Notices in a timely manner. In addition, when incidents of (alleged) infringement of your work is showing up on several sites every day you have to decide what you are – a blogger or an enforcer, because policing these violations can easily become a full time job.

    We can only inform and keep providing factual information and useful tips on how to share in a supportive way. We can’t change attitudes of people who thumb their noses at the law, thinking it doesn’t apply to them and bloggers should be thanking them for “promoting” their work.

    Again, great job Diane!

    ~ Sara

    • Thanks Sara, for providing this valuable perspective. All the credit for this post goes to Susan Powers of Rawmazing, who’s been studying the situation.

    • Thanks for your perspective, Sara. I think one of the most frustrating things is when a blogger’s recipe gets 20,000 shares from one of these sites but the blogger or their site is never mentioned. So something that COULD have helped the blogger only helps the person that stole it. And you are right. Somehow the FB page owner thinks that the food blogger should be grateful? It is so frustrating.

  62. I’ve been blogging for years but as a relatively new food blogger, I’ve always given credit where credit was due. If I come across a recipe that I want to try out, I’ll link back to the site from whence it came. :) As for my photos, they’re definitely all mine. As you can tell, I’m no professional photographer *wink*

  63. I just posted my exchange with one of these Facebook site owners on my blog. Although it’s serious, I found her responses nothing short of ludicrous. It just shows the mentality of the people you are dealing with, they simply have no morals or ethics. I work with copyrights and permissions every day, so I am not worried too much about negative consequences. In fact, I just found another one on Facebook that has NO sources cited on any of its recipes or photos. Literally everything on there appears to be stolen…so bad ! I feel like I have a mission now to educate and correct this.
    By the way, the one I confronted posted something about being “busted”, but said I was mean to her, and acted like the “food police”. At least she got the point, she is giving sources, most of the time. But, if she doesn’t, it will be reported and pursued.

    • Lisa, the page you have talked to has had numerous people approach it. What I don’t understand is how they, after being informed time and time again, still try to claim ignorance or that they are doing it right even when you can prove without a doubt that they aren’t. I don’t know if it is that they don’t want to lose face, but it is really frustrating.

  64. [...] Food Bloggers Fight Firestorm of Abusive Facebook Pages [...]

  65. As a food blogger, and a freelance food photographer, this is a double whammy for me. Most of my blog pictures end up at the collection of the food photo agency I do work for, they are stealing from both of us. If they were a company, or somebody of some worth I could unleash the agency’s lawyers on them, as all the pictures are registered. As it is, they lawyers won’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, there is no blood to be extracted from those turnips.

    I have just sent my request to join the group. I have been contacting other bloggers about their pictures being stolen for years, and they frequently reciprocate. Am I glad somebody thought of taking it to the next level.

    Now on the funny side: Pipo is a strong expletive in the norther Dominican Rep. (where I hail from), the kind of thing you would shout if you stubbed your toes. How fitting a name. :)

  66. Aunt Clara, You made me laugh out loud. I love the PIPO reference. I am also a professional food photographer and completely feel your pain. And the people that can’t understand why they can’t just use my photos because theirs don’t look as good.

    I think the more we talk about this, the more people understand.

  67. This is an interesting article that references “like farming”, people who work together to amass thousands of likes, and then sell their page to someone else. Perhaps that is an aspect of what is at work here? It would certainly explain how quickly these pages amass followers. http://www.calgaryherald.com/technology/Budge+Facing+Facebook+scams/8176929/story.html

    • Stephanie, Everyone is convinced that something weird is going on. We have some ideas but are not completely sure. Mostly it seems that by encouraging people to share so they have the recipe on their page was really triggering a ton of stuff. Face Book is getting sensitive to that now. Great article, btw.

  68. I used to send people a nice note letting them know what they did is wrong, asking them kindly to remove the content. But I learned in 3rd grade not to copy things (there was a big note on the photocopy machine in our school library) – anyone who is an adult in 2013 should know that copying material (text and photos) is not only wrong, but it’s illegal. And I don’t like having to spend my time explaining to people (adults) nicely that they may be breaking the law and violating copyright. So now I send a pretty firm message that what they are doing is wrong and that they should not be publishing anything, anywhere. We all have other stuff to do – and having to police other people is a waste of time.

    When you sign up for Facebook, there is something that states that you can’t republish copyrighted material – so there is simply no excuse for these people who do that. (I signed up for Facebook because it was the perfect place to “share” information as direct links, but not to “take.”) I had a “celebrity chef” repost a bunch of my stuff on Facebook as his “Cooking Classes.” When I wrote a nice message requesting he take them down, he blamed some nameless assistant. When I wrote him back and said that may be true, but he might want to make sure it doesn’t happen again because his name was on the Facebook page and he was responsible. He wrote me a nasty (and kind of funny) message back that I was “stupid” and that I “…obviously didn’t understand the internet.”

    • David, that is what always amazes me. The accusations that “we” don’t understand the internet how the internet works. You would think that someone who does this for a living (as many of us do) at such an exposed level would be a bit more careful not to mention supportive of people in the same field. But I am probably dreaming, now…

      • It just seems to me that there is so much information out there; blog like Dianne’s, Facebook food blogging groups, etc..that it confounds me that people are unaware of laws or even the courtesy of proper attribution. So I decided that it was better just to be more direct about it as it isn’t really a subject of discussion – it’s fact, and US copyright law.

        • Agreed, it’s the law. But I don’t think the people who start those Facebook pages are part of a community that could educate them on copyright law. They start those pages from a desire to form their own community, to “share” with other Facebook folks.

          • Hi Dianne: I was referring to bloggers who take recipes and photos from elsewhere and put them on their own blogs, not Facebook users who do that. I assume (wrongly, I suppose) that if someone launches their own publishing platform, such as a blog, that they are familiar with rules of copyright and the ethics of attribution and so forth.

  69. Thank you Susan for bringing this to light! I told a blogging “friend” once that I thought I saw some pictures of theirs on a FB site. She found them and threw a fit! When the FB followers of the bad site began giving her a hard time, she folded and told them it was actually ME who caused the trouble and they then began threatening me – so much so I had to take down my community site about about 4 months. BUT – I work for the government so I got some of my IT friends to figure out who this “woman” was. They did this on their own time and seemed to have a blast doing it – come to find out, it’s not a woman at all it’s an automated machine like process meant to gather as many followers as possible in order to direct them to their blogs where they have advertisements that will be clicked on by a statistical number of persons – hence making them money! Thank you for bringing this to light and I hope to join the Google+ group soon.

  70. Thanks Susan for sharing my article and for informing everyone, it really is crazy and sad!

  71. Thanks Dianne and Susan for sharing this information. I’ve seen my posts and photos being used in many different places, without linking back, but just recently have seen one of my photos used on a company’s Facebook page. I generally don’t have an issue with recipes or photos used, as long as my permission has been asked. Thanks for the tips on how to find out when content has been lifted – I’ll certainly be looking into it.

    • Wow! I hope you contacted that company. I guess I have some expectation that companies do this much less often than individuals. I hope I’m right.

  72. Hope I’m not repeating a previous comment: Check out the website http://www.BlogWithIntegrity.com. I attended a session at IACP yesterday, given by Regan Jones R.D. on this subject. Several other sessions also focused on this situation.

    • Oh yes, I have seen this site before. Thanks for the reminder, Rita. I saw that class but I went to something else. There are so many choices at IACP.

  73. Two more sites that deal with the subject: http://www.RDs4Disclosure.org and http://www.WOMMA.org (Word of Mouth Marketing Association)

  74. Thank you so much for sharing the article. My blog is about a week old so I don’t think I’m really out there yet or even if I will ever be. It is not only about food, there is a lot on traveling among other things. However, it really scares me to think that there are people like that out there that have no morals or scrupulous in taking credit for other people’s hard work. I always give credit when credit is due and it is very hard to believe you wouldn’t know it is wrong. Anyway, it does put things in a not so bright perspective. By the way Dianne, I’ve read your book ‘a8Will write for food” and it really helped in so many ways! Thank you for that.

    • Congrats on your new blog, Maria. Yes, there are people who are crazy like this, but also others who are just clueless. I hope you don’t have to go through this kind of situation.

      Thanks for the kind words about my book.

  75. [...] Susan Powers of Rawmazing wrote this guest post on Dianne Jacobs’ site [...]

  76. Thank you for posting this, I’m only a fairly new blogger, but still can’t believe people would repost recipes and photos as their own!

  77. [...] need the Care Bear Stare, no joke. The past couple of weeks have been rough, and I know the trouble I face is nothing compared to what others are going through around the [...]

  78. [...] a great article explaining a little more about the abuse food bloggers are dealing with right now, please click here. Bookmark on DeliciousDigg this postRecommend on FacebookShare with StumblersShare on [...]

  79. This is a great awareness article I have been affected by this too, fortunately sites that have used my assets have removed them with no problem but God knows who else is using my intellectual property that I don’t know. Some alerts have come from my own followers whom I have thanked a lot. Let’s join efforts to protect our work. Have applied to the G+ group.

    Best,

    Adriana

    • Very good, Adriana. It is a big problem, in the food blogger community, to have your work stolen. This group has a good approach in making people aware and figuring out how to fight back.

  80. Well, this really makes me wonder how many times my friends have posted copyrighted recipes and pictures to my timeline! Upsetting! Everyone knows I’m a foodie, so they share recipes, and tag me all the time. There’s really no way of knowing either, is there?
    So, as a social media member, how do we avoid being caught up in this? I guess the only way is to not allow posts on my profile? Sad.
    I don’t have a blog yet, mine is under construction (because I am a terrible perfectionist!) but I do freelance writing and I know how much effort goes into creating original content.
    I am glad there is a group forming to combat this! I hope you all get this problem cleared up before my blog goes up :D hehe
    Dianne, wonderful website! So informative and entertaining!
    ~Kerri
    check out my friend’s blog: http://www.kellymacdonald.org/

    • No need to tell your friends to stop, Kerri. They can post a link to the recipe. It’s just that simple.

  81. so if i understand this right, as long as their is a link back to your blog, if anyone should like one of your recipes, then you food bloggers are ok if things are shared, providing that to get the recipe itself they must visit your blog.. Correct??

    • The recipe should not be produced in its entirety so readers have a reason to click on the link. And you can’t use the photo without permission.

  82. I am not a food writer, just a foodie. And I want to apilogize cause I may be unknowingly adding to the problem. I belong to several recipe groups and have wondered where all of those recipes come from. Usually when I hit share, I set permissions so only I could see it. Is there an easy way for me to check if a recipe has been pirated?

    • Laurel, how nice of you to read this post.

      If you are sharing full recipes online, where anyone in the public can access them, you are doing so without permission of the author or publisher. That’s what this post is about.

      I’m not sure what you mean about setting permissions so only you can see it.

      • When I hit the share button on facebook, I have the option of choosing who can see my posts: public (everyone), friends of friends (almost everyone), friends, or private (just me). Usually I set it to private since I’m just trying to save the recipe for me.

        • So no one sees the recipe except you? There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you got it off Facebook, it was probably pasted in by the people this post complains about.

  83. Thank you for writing this. I have been battling a page on Facebook which posts other people’s recipes and photos, up to 5 a day, without credit or sometimes as their own. They did it to me twice. I said they could use my work if they credited me but they chose to take them down. I started looking for where all their pictures were coming from and when I posted the real identities, I was blocked. So now I personally contact those people whose work is being misused. This guy knows what he is doing is wrong. But despite formal complaints, it continues. While people say they are outraged by this, no one stands up to fight it and I can’t do it alone. And as you wrote, I have been told my ego is too big, I should willingly share. I believe it’s the ego of the person claiming others’ recipes and photos as his own that has the issue. Anyway, glad to see others taking a stand. Thank you!

    • It’s so interesting that even when we try to talk to people sensibly about this, and suggest a way that it benefits everyone, we get banned, blocked, called names, etc.
      Keep fighting the fight!

  84. You know, facebook should change it’s policy on how copyright infringement is handled. Instead of taking down the page they should freeze it and put in big words across it “This page has been suspended due to copyright infringement.”

  85. […] 9. Most cookbook buyers use social media and read blogs. Some 49 percent said they read or used recipes from blogs. While 34 percent said they do not use a social media networking site, that means 66 percent do so. They like Facebook (62%). If they’re finding recipes on Facebook, that should make you nervous. See this post about Facebook pages that cut and paste rccipes. […]

  86. […] other people’s content in an appropriate and ethical manner and I think Louise Hendon and Dianne Jacob tackle the topic expertly. Tl;dr: 1) if it’s not you content, ask for permission, 2) if you […]

  87. I am new to both blogging and reading blogs, and am flabbergasted that this kind of thing exists and is apparently so widespread!! I am absolutely horrified reading the comments… I can only imagine how upsetting and infuriating this must be. I requested to join PIPA and Food Bloggers Alliance, I hope more can be done to fight this disgusting behavior.

    • I hope it doesn’t happen to you, Michelle. It’s best to be aware of these things, so it’s good that you’re educating yourself.

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