Mar 182014
 

Recipe-RobberI’ve written many times about how individual  recipes can’t be copyrighted here in the US. But did you realize that you can defend a copyright if parts of your recipe contain “substantial literary expression?”

What exactly is that, and why should you bother?

“Substantial literary expression” establishes the information in a recipe as yours. That could be just as important as copyright, when it comes to theft.

Let me explain. US copyright law defines substantial literary expression as: Continue reading »

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Nov 192013
 

Time-Gods-Of FoodIf you’ve read the news on who’s a top US chef, they are all men, according to a male food editor and a male restaurant critic.

Two features stirred the wrath of many: a cover story on “The Gods of Food” in Time magazine; and a list of Rising Stars from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Eater interviewed the Time magazine food editor about why female chefs did not appear, and here is his reply:

“We discussed that for a while, we actually thought about it. We wanted to name a couple. Another reality: none of them have a restaurant that we believe matches the breadth and size and basically empire of some of these men that we picked. They have the reputation and all that and it’s an unfortunate thing. The female chef is a relatively recent phenomenon, except for Alice who has been around for a long time. None of them have the recent breadth that these guys have.”

Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer offered this defense of his choices in a follow-up piece (in 2011, the first time he chose only male chefs — and this is his 4th year running), saying Continue reading »

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Mar 192013
 

Should writers write for free, for exposure, or for fun? Or maybe all three? Everybody has an opinion, sometimes heated.

An argument about getting paid for online work erupted recently, when a respected journalist blogged about an Atlantic Wire editor who asked to repost a long article online for free.

What’s unbelievable is that just a few years ago, the Atlantic magazine offered him $21,000 per article for original reporting, and now they’re offering him nothing in exchange for “exposure.”

Here’s the scoop from Reuters blogger Felix Salmon:

“The exchange has particular added poignancy because it’s not so many years since Continue reading »

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Feb 052013
 

Your book just came out, and it needs reviews on Amazon. Not just any kind of review, but positive ones.

Do you rally your supporters on social media? Ask friends and family to post (implied glowing) reviews? Email anyone who’s ever complimented you and ask them to post?

According to Amazon, all of the above methods lead to “manipulated reviews.” The company is deleting thousands of them, says this story in The New York Times.

If you’ve already employed these strategies, don’t worry about it too much. Most of the time, Amazon is not looking for small fry like us, but for authors with huge followings who can incite people to write reviews on the first day of publication, sometimes without reading the book. But even so, we smaller authors are not immune. The article includes Continue reading »

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Jan 292013
 

Lori Lange of Recipe Girl is in her 4th year of writing sponsored posts. (Photo by Amy Boring)

Lori Lange‘s food blog, Recipe Girl, made last year’s list of one of the top food blogs in the US, according to The Daily Meal. Upbeat and energetic, Lori never seems to run out of easy meal ideas.

One of the things that interests me about her blog is the way Lori works with food companies. As you know, I’m a hard nut to crack on the subject of sponsored posts. I’m no longer opposed to writing them, but I get frustrated by how few food bloggers write about products well.

Lori takes a professional approach, writing directly to potential clients in a “Work with Me” page, and creating straightforward, non-advertorial posts that always disclose she’s been Continue reading »

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Jan 222013
 

In advance of my talk on ethics for Food Blog South this weekend, I’ve been researching product posts and thinking about what motivates people to write them.

I’ve been trying not to get annoyed when I see so many problematic posts, but it’s not working. So I thought I’d get this subject off my chest.

Of course YOU don’t make dumb decisions like this. But I bet you’ve read lots of posts that make you shake your head. What were these people thinking? I bet I know:

1. This came in my email. I’m so humbled and honored to be chosen! This explains why a food blogger raves about a car, or frozen peas when her blog is about candy.

2. A company gave me this for free. I owe them so much! Other than a polite reply and a responsible discussion, bloggers don’t owe Continue reading »

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Oct 232012
 

While preparing for my trip to Australia for Eat.Drink.Blog next month (I know! So lucky.), I came across this article in the daily paper there. It portrays food bloggers as naive amateurs willing to flog products, people, and restaurants.

A PR firm invited a handful of Australian bloggers to a demo of dried soup stock by Chef Marco Pierre White. The author of the article ridiculed food bloggers for writing about the event and endorsing the product, as did several others he quoted. A sample:

“Do you know how many newspapers ran [news] stories on Marco Pierre White during his visit?” asks Ed Charles, a prominent Melbourne blogger and freelance journalist (who did not attend the event). “None. Firstly, because most people under 40 haven’t heard of Marco Pierre White, given he hasn’t cooked in a commercial kitchen since 1999. And secondly, because what PR people have realised is that bloggers are a nicer audience to deal with than journalists. Very few bloggers are critical and if you give them something to write about they will just publish it.”

Ouch.

But then, I say the same thing when I speak at food blogger conferences. I am tired of Continue reading »

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