Although some people perceive the internet to be an information free-for-all, I think most bloggers feel a little bit protective of their content, particularly if they’re making an income from blogging. As a blogger, it upsets me to see my photographs and recipes used in a way that I don’t agree with and I decided that I need to come up with some concrete rules for what I feel is acceptable usage of my content. I’m not a fan of posts that take a “Lo! I’ve come down from the mountaintop to tell you what you can and cannot do as a blogger!” tone; this is mostly about me and my content, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that most other bloggers would agree with many of my points.
I’m happy to allow you to use a single photo without permission for non-commercial purposes. What does this mean? If you want to write a round-up post about holiday desserts and include a photo of my Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches, that’s fine, as long as you credit me for the photo and include a link to my blog. Basically, don’t try to pass my photos off as your own or use them to misrepresent a different recipe, and we’re good.
I’m also fine with you reblogging my photographs on Tumblr. I’ve gotten lots of traffic from Pretty Balanced and other foodie Tumblr blogs, so again, as long as you’re linking to me and not misrepresenting my photograph, I love seeing my pictures show up on Tumblr.
When can you use my recipes?
This is a little bit trickier. I think the consensus is that it’s okay to use another blogger’s recipe if you make it yourself and use your own photograph. Personally, I think you should make some changes to a recipe if you’re going to publish it on your blog–at least write it in your own words. Otherwise, what’s the point of republishing it? And if you don’t make any changes to the recipe, you should definitely ask before you publish. Either way, be sure to link to my original post.
When can you use my recipes and photos together?
A few months ago, a small business took one of my recipes that involved their product and republished it, along with my photo, on their blog. I decided to use it as an opportunity and offered to develop original recipes for them and write for their blog. They were interested and everything was going along swimmingly until the subject of pay came up, and suddenly I never heard from them again–I assume they had expected that I’d write for them for free. (As a food blogger, this would actually end up costing me money, since I’d have to pay for recipe ingredients out of pocket–I’d be crazy to agree to this!) I felt weird about the whole thing and I never did ask them to take the recipe and photo down, but I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it happen again.
Last week, it did happen again. I found my recipe for Vegetarian Irish Stew, along with my photo of the dish, on a Squidoo page. Although I was given credit for both, I was upset over it. Why? Well, now when people search for vegetarian Irish stew with tempeh (yeah, okay, I know that’s probably not many people, but stick with me here!), the first result is the Squidoo page. So what are people going to click on? The Squidoo page. Who’s going to get the advertising money from the recipe? The “author” of the post on Squidoo, even though the content of the post is mine. Whether it’s credited to me or not is irrelevant–I make an income from my blog and by taking my content this way, someone is taking money out of my pocket and putting it into hers. Sorry, that’s just not right. I was absolutely appalled that this vegetarian “magazine” on Squidoo felt it was acceptable to take content from a blogger like this without asking. To their credit, they did remove the post, but if you’re a blogger, be aware that apparently Squidoo policy is that it’s okay to take content from outside sources without permission as long as the original source is mentioned.
And what about Pinterest?
Pin away! I only ask that you not copy and paste an entire recipe into your pin. Not only is this annoying to me as a blogger, it also kind of defeats the purpose of Pinterest–it’s a visual medium not meant to be clogged up with several paragraphs of text.
Oh, and another thing: if you’re pinning a photo you found on FoodGawker or TasteSpotting, please pin from my post, not from FoodGawker or TasteSpotting. Somehow I don’t think they need any help in the traffic department. The same goes for round-up posts–if someone is doing a round-up of pie recipes they found from other blogs and you really want to make the Dutch apple pie they’re linking to, go and pin the original Dutch apple pie post, not the round-up. This is good pinning etiquette and it lets the creators of the content, rather than the curators of it, get credit for their work.
If in doubt, please ask.
If you’re unsure about whether something you want to use from my blog is acceptable, please send me an email and ask. I think what really butters my blogging biscuits about all this stuff is that people seem to work under the assumption that taking content from blogs is okay unless they’re told it’s not after the fact. Please ask first!
The bottom line.
Don’t use my content in a way that diverts traffic from my blog. If I find my content on your blog or website and it’s used in a way I feel is unacceptable, I will email you and ask you to take it down; if that doesn’t work, I will send
someone to crowbar your kneecaps a DMCA takedown notice to your host.
If you’re a blogger and you’d like to learn more about this subject, here are some great resources:
Two Great Debates from Meals & Moves (I read this post about an hour before I discovered my content had been republished on Squidoo–so weird, right?!)
How to Deal with Copyright Theft from Food Blog Alliance
How To Get Stolen Content Removed from BlogHer
If you’re a blogger, have you had someone take your content? What did you do about it?