Copyright

Unless specifically stated otherwise, all content on this blog is copyrighted by Donna Currie. For permission to republish any of the content here, contact Cookistry@gmail.com.

Feel free to link to this site from yours. You do not need permission to link.

In most cases, I am perfectly fine with a photo from my site being published along with a link, as you'd see on FoodGawker or Pinterest. If photos are being used for commercial purposes, by commercial entities, or to illustrate a story that is not merely a round-up of blog posts, contact me for permission prior to publication.

Some of the content on this site is republished from other sites and media companies that I write for. I have permission to re-publish here, but I would need permission to republish elsewhere. If that content is republished, it's not me who would be filing a copyright claim - it would be someone much larger and possibly with mean lawyers on their payroll.

About recipe copyrights:

While it's true that the formula of a recipe cannot be copyrighted, the creative interpretation in the description of the process is copyrighted. That means that while the ingredient list is for grabs, and anyone on the planet can use your recipe to cook dinner, the wording in the directions is most likely covered by copyright and should not be republished without permission.

Photos are always copyrighted.

It doesn't matter if a recipe is "all over the Internet" or whether the photo has a watermark or not or whether you found it on Google image search. It doesn't matter if a photo is on Pinterest. It doesn't matter if there is profit involved. It doesn't matter if someone admits it's not their own. If someone publishes something that is not of their own creation, there's a good chance they are violating someone's copyright.

If you're not sure if something is copyrighted, assume that it is until you find out differently. If you don't know where a recipe came from originally, or who took a photo, it doesn't mean it's up for grabs. Lack of sufficient research doesn't void a copyright.

Anything created after 1978 is copyrighted for the duration of the author's life, plus 70 years. I don't know too many bloggers who were blogging before 1978 or who have been dead for more than 70 years, do you?

The simple truth is that if someone photographed a clod of dirt and scribbled some words about it, they own the rights to that content. It doesn't matter if the photo is blurry and the words are nonsense.

When it comes to recipes, it doesn't matter that bread has been made for hundreds of years or that there are thousands of photos of cake. I could write a recipe for boiling water, and I would own the rights to those words in that particular arrangement. You could write a completely different version of the directions, and it, too would be copyrighted.

Unless, of course, your directions say, "Fill pot with water. Place on heat and bring to a boil." That's not copyrighted.

However, "Fill that sucker to the halfway point with the coldest water you can get from your tap. Drag it to the stove, hoist it to the burner and fire it up to burn-the-house-down-high, and let it sit until it bubbles like it means it," would  be covered by copyright.

Directions don't need to be that off-the-wall to be copyrighted. They just need to be something other than basic instructions.

Where a recipe crosses the line from "basic directions" to "creative expression" is a legal issue. No one wants to get lawyers involved, do they? But really, a little common courtesy and common sense should suffice.

Read on ...

About plagiarism, common courtesy, and linking:

Remember when they told you in school to do your own work and credit your sources? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

Even if you happen across a recipe that is not covered by copyright, copying and pasting it without a source is kind of like copying your older brother's homework from several years ago and turning it in with just your last name on it. Someone might say "well, I never said I created it," but generally they also haven't said they didn't create it. If you post a recipe on a blog, website, or Facebook page, people assume it's your creation unless you very prominently state otherwise. It's common courtesy to give credit, even if the copyright has expired.

If a recipe is covered by copyright, permission is required. It's not optional, and a link to, or mention of, the source is not enough. If you ask nicely most people will grant permission. If you take and don't ask, many people will have an entirely different reaction.

Try this. Go to your neighbor's house and ask for a cup of flour. No problem, right? Now go sneak into your other neighbor's house and get caught rummaging through their kitchen cabinets looking for flour.

See what I mean? Doesn't matter that flour is cheap. People want you to ask and not take.

While it's perfectly legal to copy someone's ingredient list and rewrite their recipe directions, the ethical thing to do is link back to the original blog and maybe even say a nice thing or two about that blog. A little kindness goes a long way.

The benefit of permission and attribution:

If someone asks permission to adapt a recipe, puts in links and mentions of my blog, and lets me know that the blog post has been published, it's very likely that I will promote the post on social media. I'm happy to share your work when you credit mine.

Used with permission. All rights reserved.

There are times when I use a recipe word-for-word from a cookbook. Sometimes it's because the publisher has requested it. Sometimes there are other compelling reasons. If the recipe is used word-for-word, I always have permission from the publisher to do so.

Adapting recipes:

There are a lot of interpretations of what an adapted recipe is, but in general it's a recipe that has been modified from its original version. Sometimes this is about copyright, which is a legal issue. Sometimes it's about entering a recipe in a contest, which is a contractual issue, and sometimes it's about when a recipe has been modified enough so you can claim it as your own invention.

Most of my recipes are original. I go into the kitchen, stare at ingredients, come up with an idea, manipulate ingredients, and emerge with a finished dish. For baking, I rely heavily on Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio, which gives the basic ratios needed to achieve a variety of products. So, for example, it will tell you that a particular baked good has 2 parts flour to 1 part sugar to 1 part fat. I can use those ratios to create a new recipe that doesn't rely at all on anyone else's published recipe.

I seldom use recipes from other blogs. It's just not my thing. When I do, I'm very unlikely to make the recipe exactly the same way. I really don't see the point in doing that. It's been done. Why re-run?

On the few occasions when I have adapted another recipe from a blog, chances are that the ingredients are not exactly the same (even though that would be legal) and for sure I have re-written the instructions. I also always give credit by naming the blog and providing at least one link and possibly more.

Adapting recipes from cookbooks can be a little bit different, at least for me. When I'm using a recipe from a cookbook, it's generally part of a review of the book. I'm trying to give my readers an idea of what the book is like and what the recipes are like. If I go too far off into my own world, it's not a good representation of what is in the book.

So ...

If I change ingredients, I tell people what the original recipe requested and what I substituted. I try not to make substitutions that will harm the formula. But I might substitute cauliflower for broccoli or marjoram for thyme, for example. And then I rewrite the recipe directions in my own words. I'll note where I did something contrary to the instructions or used slightly different equipment so that the reader knows what was originally intended.

My goal, in those cases, is to give the readers a good example of what they will see in the book, while still following copyright rules. So I change the wording but still keep the essence of what the author intended.

In some cases, it's easier to get permission from the publisher to use the recipe as-is. In other cases, particularly when I need to change an ingredient or piece of cooking equipment, it's better to adapt.

Conclusion:

Some people think that copyright is complicated. And it probably is, if a case goes to court. But it can be very, very simple if you follow just one rule: If you didn't create it, ask permission before you use it.

More reading:

Don't take my word for it. Here are a whole host of articles about copyright:

http://foodblogalliance.com/a/recipe-attribution/

http://www.roniloren.com/blog/2012/7/20/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-for-using-pics-on-your-blog.html

http://debmcalister.com/2012/02/02/5-easy-ways-to-get-sued-for-social-media-or-blogging/

http://tamaratattles.com/2013/01/11/housewives-blogger-sued-by-new-jersey-media-group-for-copyright-violation/

http://bethhawkins.com/guess-who-got-busted-for-image-copyright-infringement/

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/11/16/6-laws-every-blogger-needs-to-obey-so-they-dont-get-sued/

http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/2007/02/12/blogger-sued-for-copyright-infringement/

http://support.google.com/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=157170

http://www.wxii12.com/Local-Blogger-Facing-Copyright-Infringement-Lawsuit/-/9678472/4466308/-/q8h8yu/-/index.html

http://www.inboundmarketlink.com/blog-0/bid/58644/Sued-for-Copyright-Infringement-4-Ways-to-Avoid-it

http://www.blogherald.com/2011/04/08/5-copyright-facts-every-blogger-should-know/

http://blog.kw.com/2010/07/09/caution-cutting-and-pasting-could-get-you-sued/

http://bradlegal.com/cms/music/can-i-get-sued-for-blogging/

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/copyright/copyright-infringement-news-9-14801.html#.UWRVPKKG0fU

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/copyright/intellectual_property_writers-01721.html#.UWRVraKG0fU

http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/features/copyright/copyright-law-infringement-intellectual.html#.UWRV9KKG0fU

https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/IP

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/How_using_Google_Images_can_cost_you_8000_14912.aspx#

https://www.legalzoom.com/tips-trends/prevention-safety/is-your-blog-copyright

http://socialfresh.com/how-to-use-content-from-other-blogs-without-infringing-on-their-copyright/
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