Tag Archives: copyright

A quick word on Copyright and Recipes on this Blog

Dear Everyone

I don’t really want to get involved in the current debate, I wrote a post a long time ago about my views on this which you can see here. I have been thinking a lot about it lately and after various conversations with a couple of good friends of mine, I have been back and taken out sections of posts which I think might be considered to be in breach of copyright. I haven’t quite finished doing them all so bear with me while I do. I could take the whole blog off line until I have done it, but that would be a bit much.

For the time being I am leaving the Hamelman ones as they are, some of which have lists of ingredients with suggested quantities. I am going to look at them all as I go through my back posts. The Hamelman ones are slightly different in that, for nearly all of them the recipes have been scaled down or converted into grams. Jeffrey Hamelman has generally given bloggers to understand that he doesn’t mind them writing in detail about his recipes. If however, I hear from him to the contrary I am perfectly happy to take down, edit those posts too, or anyone else who contacts me about any post I have written.

A very long time ago I queried the ‘adaptation of recipes’ with a famous blogger, Susan of Wild Yeast. She wrote to Jeffrey Hamelman at the time, and then receiving an answer, wrote a post about it.  Since then I too have been guilty of the ‘well everyone else does it, so I guess it’s all right mentality’ and have sometimes written out adapted posts.

I can’t say whether or not this has discouraged readers from buying the books for themselves. I would hope that my enthusiasm for books that are not always visible in shop windows and on displays has encouraged some of you to buy them. I would be really pleased if readers bought books on the strength of my recommendations, but that isn’t why I write posts. I am not a professional reviewer after all.

I have never cut and pasted the text in full of any recipe, but that doesn’t meant that posts where I have maybe changed one or two things in the ingredient list are not ‘derivative works’.

I would hate to think that I was part of the problem and not part of the solution so in order to protect the livelihoods of the authors who work so hard to produce the books I love I have decided to do this. It is a moral issue for me, not a legal one.

WordPress of course, encourage bloggers to include recipes in their posts, if you read what they say about getting recognition and lots of traffic to your blog that is one of the things they recommend but they don’t specifically say write your own recipes. Anyway I don’t need lots of traffic, I don’t gain financially from writing a blog, it isn’t linked to any book, or TV show. I get roughly three to four hundred hits on this blog a day at the present time, most of whom never comment or hit the Like button so who knows what they are looking for? If they are looking for published authors’ recipes then they will either have to follow the links to where they are officially published on the internet or buy their books.

I think in the years I have been writing this blog I have received four bottles of food essences and a jar of honey from Bakery Bits as a thank you for helping them by making loads of suggestions as to what they should buy and offer to the baking community and for helping write a piece about caring for bannetons. I like to think that everyone has benefited from them stocking the hard to find items that I wanted.  I wrote about my relationship with Bakery Bits back then in a post here. I am not on their staff, and have bought every other item that I have used from them. I get a 10% discount as a friend.

I received some rye flour yesterday from Felin Ganol, they are experimenting with trying to produce a fine dark rye flour for English home bakers  at my request that is something similar to German 1150. I will send them the postage for the flour and I will bake with it and see what it’s like, doing test baking as best I can.  I might write about it too here if it is interesting but I will always tell you what the background is to something like that. That’s the sum of my financial gains from writing this blog.

‘To live outside the law one must be honest’ Bob Dylan

This is something I aspire to even though I don’t succeed usually. Or as WordPress reminded me just now on publishing this one. (They like to give you an encouraging word these days each time you publish a new post….)

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.Tennessee Williams

I compromise on my morals in so many ways and this is one of them so to feel comfortable in my skin and continue with this public blog I am doing this. If I wanted to write out all the recipes for myself as a record I could easily make this blog ‘private’. WordPress give you that option of course. A blog is more than a diary, it is a public document and as such I have responsibilities.

I am turning off comments on this one. It’s not a discussion post just a statement.

Peace be with you all.

Buddha with snowdrops

Copyright, blogging, mumble, mumble…

Timethief, a very experienced and honest blogger, writes a wonderful blog with the main purpose of helping people to become better at blogging. She puts very useful links in the sidebar of her blog as well as in her articles. She is a wonderful resource who I  cannot recommend too highly. I frequently follow her links and have learnt masses that way, though sometimes I get overwhelmed by it all.

Today I followed a link to something called Copyscape which scans the web in seconds to see if a page from a blog has been copied elsewhere on the internet.

Copyscape made suggestions as to which pages to check, it’s a very clever programme.

I ran the programme on a very early post of mine,  for the bread pictured above, one in which I had posted a formula for making a loaf of bread.

This bread  has the peculiar distinction of being baked from time to time by Andrew at the loaf as part of his amazing range of rye breads. I am sure he has adapted it to suit his own requirements and his customers’ tastes but he kindly refers to it as my bread.  It isn’t really my bread, just my rendition of an old technique used by German bakers.

Sure enough the formula and my text has been copied and pasted here. What is annoying about this is that the writer then says, in their post, oh but I don’t understand part of the instructions, can someone explain it?  I am puzzled why the author didn’t simply contact me? Is there any explanation? Is there any way to contact the author on their site to open a dialogue with them?  No.

Now, I know that it is possible to go through a process of responding to copyright infringement and I guess I could do that, but life is short and I think on this occasion I am not going to bother. Part of me wants to run that Copyscape check on each and every page of my blog, part of me thinks this way madness lies.

I know that one can copy and paste almost anything you see on the internet. I copy and paste recipes from my friends’ blogs  to print off and carry down to the kitchen, but I don’t repost their recipes in full, preferring to link to their blogs instead. But I am not pure as driven snow, I have adapted recipes from books that I love. If the recipe is shown by permission on the internet I try and link to where it is shown for preference.

This of course requires the blogger to do a little more work, and it requires the reader to use their mouse and click to another site. I can’t believe quite how lazy some people are in that regard, moaning about having to go to another site. It reminds me of people who want to park right outside shops and never walk anywhere!

I always credit authors and hope that people will be encouraged to buy the book, but I have my doubts as to whether I am doing the right thing.  I am aware that there are different copyright rules in different countries, which is one of the things that makes this whole business so complicated.

I hope that by offering a contact form [edit: please leave a comment on a recent post ] and an open invitation to anyone to use it to contact me, that if an author has any concerns about something I have written that they would contact me and I would then promptly remove anything that they considered unacceptable.  I have felt my way into this blogging world and probably like many people I tend to copy what I see others do. This of course, doesn’t make it right and it is easy to fall into the trap of saying, ‘ X writes out recipes from books so that must be all right then’.

Make up your own mind, have you really altered the recipe enough that it is now ‘yours’,  and ask yourself if the author has stated their views anywhere on how they feel about their recipes being shared?

You will find that authors have different feelings on the subject, some seeing it as good publicity, some seeing it as a straightforward breach of copyright.  I can furnish examples of this, if anyone is interested.

The good thing is that at least the person who scraped my content put a link to my original post.  But it would have been nice to be asked first and if that person really had a genuine query why on earth didn’t they ask me?

This post isn’t intended to provoke my dearly loved blogging friends into explaining their own policies on the subject. I’m just sounding off about how I feel. The plain fact is that if you write something original and put it on your blog, take great photos, pour your heart out here, the chances are that someone, somewhere will copy it and post it.  This isn’t going to go away. If your blog is getting older and more popular then the chances of this happening will increase, so think about how you feel about it and decide for yourself how and if you are going to deal with it.

I hope that, like the nice chap from the online Encyclopedia the other day,who emailed me to enquire about using one of my flower pictures,  people will feel free to ask about using content and images.  I like the idea of my stuff being of use, but I do really want to be asked first.

Related Posts :  My Baking Addiction’s post on how her whole blog was stolen – thanks to Ann for telling me about this.