Friday, February 20, 2009

Blog Thievery or Somebody's Stealing My Content, So What Do I Do?



All that is necessary for the triumph of evil
is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke



Newsflash:  The larger percentage of people who steal the work of others is done so that they can use your work to drive traffic to their site and get clicks on their advertising. They don't have to do any writing, but they get to collect advertising dollars off of your work.  Be sure to check the site that has taken your content and images for advertising sources - such as Google ads with Adsense. There are other similar affiliate advertisers so check their ad sources and file a complaint with the sponsor.  If the violator is running Google ads, file a DMCA complaint right here also. If it is a blatant violation of multiple incidents across your work or the collective works of others Google will suspend their ability to earn income through their ads.

Update: Images - particularly those of food - are pretty easy to prove copyright violation on since the original photographer likely has substantial unpublished photographs of that same basic image taken from different angles.

But some people out here in the internet world apparently have little to no morals, and think that by virtue of the fact that you are putting recipes up on a blog, that it is perfectly acceptable for them to take your recipe, often verbatim, and then post it at their own blog and generally by simple omission, lead their readers to believe that recipe is their own original work. I even saw a "so called" blogger make that claim - that if someone puts their recipes "out there" and somebody else takes them, it's all fair game. Wrong. Bottom line is, that if you are doing that, it is THEFT.

It's no different from going into someone's house and stealing something from them. And unless you are a narcissistic psychopath with no conscience, you know it is wrong.

With very few exceptions - such as very old and widely used recipes that have long lost their original source - if you use somebody's recipe - without making substantial changes in the ingredients and/or the instructions - then credit them with a mention in your blog post, AND a link back to the page where their original recipe is located. Technically, you should not be reprinting their recipe at all unless you made substantial adaptations from their original, but most bloggers, recipe sites, and corporate sites don't mind you reprinting their recipe at your site (along with your own original photographs and not their photos of course) so long as you provide a link back to their original recipe - a direct link to the recipe you used. Oh. And by the way. Even if you make minor adaptations, and unless you did make substantial changes from the original recipe, then you should still credit the original blogger for the original recipe. Think about how you would feel if it were reversed.



Here it is a year later and I am sad to say that I have had to deal with blog thievery several times since making this original post. In fact, in the last 2 weeks, I have had 2 instances.

The first was a blogger who had made a minor adaptation to one of my recipes but had essentially copied my recipe verbatim otherwise and posted it on her blog without crediting me. I felt that it was a simple case of being new to food blogging and not understanding linking etiquette when using someone else's recipe, so I wrote to her, she corrected the issue by linking back to my original recipe, and she wrote back to me and apologized.

Shortly after that, I had another blogger take an image from my blog and post it on her blog, and she took a recipe from my blog and used that on another post at her blog. I have to say that she did a great job with my recipe, posting a step by step tutorial and the end product looked fantastic. But, the problem is, she did not ask me in advance to use my image, and she did not credit my original recipe, even though it was taken verbatim.  I recognized the recipe as being one of my own original recipes right away, so I wrote and asked her to remove my photograph and to credit my original recipe on the other post. She took immediate action, removing my image and crediting my site for the recipe - though she did not credit the direct link to the recipe, only to my home page.  But what surprised me was this.

This blogger makes a living as a ghost writer. Meaning that she ghost writes articles for other people to purchase and use under their own name. And, she also sells some of her own photography on her blog. Yet, she felt it was okay to lift an image from my food blog and then steal my recipe, and while yes, she corrected it after I contacted her, she did not even bother to write me back to apologize.

I wonder how she would feel if that were reversed. Just sayin'...



As far as images go, and in particular we are discussing food images with recipes here - just don't take them without prior written permission - or you may find your blog shut down for violation of your host terms of service policies - namely that relating to intellectual property. No matter who your host is, go read those policies. DMCA violations are always outlined in there and can result in shutting down your site.

And, by the way, even if you "borrow" images from sources like Google images or similar sites, for regular blog posts that aren't food and recipe posts, always include not only the name of the source but a link to the source in your post. It is the right thing to do.

But, back to recipes... Some people seem to think that recipes aren't protected under copyright. WRONG. Yes, they are.

If the originator of the recipe can show that you used their recipe in the form of primary ingredients, measurements, order, etc. and/or their methods or specific instructions - again without any substantial changes on your part - they can generally pretty easily prove a copyright violation. Trust me, I develop a lot of recipes and I can usually spot one of my original recipes right away.

Now, of course, if you develop your own recipe from multiple sources, say you take my recipe, and 3 or 4 other recipes, and you sort of meld them together and then rewrite your own list of ingredients and your own instructions, essentially creating - and making - a whole new recipe, it is then your original recipe to post as your own. Please make it though, don't just write a recipe without giving it a trial run! But if you essentially duplicate someone else's ingredients near exact or with only a minor adaptation, or you use their specific instructions, again, without substantial changes, then you should call your recipe "adapted from" and credit the original author and give an appropriate - and obvious - link to their recipe.

If you didn't develop an original recipe on your own, give credit where credit is due. It's the right thing to do.



In a nutshell...

Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.

Protection under the copyright law (title 17 of the U.S. Code, section 102) extends only to “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form (a copy). “Original” means merely that the author produced the work by his own intellectual effort, as distinguished from copying an existing work. Copyright protection may extend to a description, explanation, or illustration, assuming that the requirements of the copyright law are met.
http://www.copyright.gov



Please note. While the information below applies to a Blogger violation and working with Google Legal Department (the owner of Blogger), these rules apply across the board to blogs, and even those with custom domains, and to ALL hosts - Wordpress, Typepad, AOL Journals, Windows Live, Xanga, Live Journal, Vox, Facebook, MySpace,Go Daddy, and other hosting services, across the board - any company that is hosting the website or blog of the violator.  Just find out who the host is, and locate their terms of service for the violations relating to intellectual property and follow their procedures for reporting violations.

Etsy Policy
Go Daddy Policy



On a personal note, I'm a pretty easy going person by nature and I play well with others so I'm easy to get along with because I prefer peace in my life, but understand one thing.

I work very hard on my blogs - especially my food blog. Very hard. If you steal my recipes and/or my photography, I will go after you with everything that I have.  And, if it's blatant enough, I will expose you for the thief you are. I don't care who you are, where you live, or who your host is. I can be relentless and I will seek justice with a vengeance both for me, and for my fellow bloggers. Yes, I will report you to another blogger if I see you have taken their content. You are warned.




Now back to the regular scheduled programming, or in blogging terms, the original post. 



Well, I suppose it was bound to happen.

If you put your work out on the internet, somebody is gonna come along, snatch it up and try to make it their own.

They visit your blog, snatch up your posts and your pictures, and then post them on their own blog. They don't ask for your permission. They don't give credit to you for being the person who worked their tail off to develop the recipe, to cook it, to photograph it, never mind the time to type it up in Blogger, upload all the photos and do the editing. They don't write up stories about how they tried your recipe (because they haven't), and they don't provide links back to your blog.

Why?

Because they want to build a blog off of all your hard work. Without doing any of the work on their own.

Thankfully, they are few and far between and most bloggers respect one another's work too much to dream of doin' such a thing.

And frankly, it takes a bit of work to report an infringement on your copyright material. Work that many bloggers simply don't have time for, because, well, we bloggers are already spending a lot of time putting the material on our blogs in the first place, visiting and responding to comments, and making the rounds to visit the other blogs in our blogging communities.

But, if we don't report offenders when it happens, well, there isn't any cause and effect, so the offenders keep offending. And I'm all about justice.

This person who took my content took 30 posts from my blog. Yep. That's 30. Three-0.

And then they took every picture of every recipe. My pictures. My hard work. And they posted all of that to their blog as if it were their own.

I can't even begin to express how much work was behind those 30 posts, but y'all know that. It just made me sick.

And it was worse.

I wasn't the only blogger that this person was lifting recipes and photography from, because I immediately recognized the majority of the entire blog were posts that had been lifted from other people's blogs too! Food bloggers that I know or visit fairly regularly. It's funny how you start to recognize a certain style. Or even certain plates.

But ... none of us really knew what to do.

Well, I'm a paralegal by trade. I can't sit by and let this happen. I put on my research hat.

I tried the "friendly" approach by commenting on every one of my recipes and requesting that they remove my content and photography. The only response I got to that was that they came and visited my website to see who I was. After they posted 3 more recipes they lifted from somebody else that very morning. Gosh ... seems they had forgotten me already. You'd think after lifting 30 of my posts and photos they'd be pretty intimately familiar with who My New 30 was.

But, the Google Legal team is awesome and as of yesterday evening, that blogger is gone.

So, here's what you do if somebody is stealing your content.

If it's happening somewhere other than Blogger, the procedure is going to be about the same.

Sometimes it's easy to find the info if it's a general recipe site such as All Recipes. Just look for the "legal" link, usually located at the bottom of the page. If it's not a general site like that, don't give up. It'll just take a little more research to find out "whois" behind the website, or you may have to delve deeper to find out who that site is being hosted by. Either way, once you discover who hosts the website or blog, then you'll have to locate their policy on the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and follow their instructions on how to report violations. A warning. It's gonna take some work. You will usually have to do this in writing. Actually in "writing" not over email, or by phone.



Update!

For Blogger violations, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - Blogger policy is outlined here.  The good news is that you can speed up this process by filing a complaint online now!!  I'll leave the info below in place, because you will still need to provide the information on this online form, but at least Google has made it easier.



Basically here's what you need to do. This is current as of today, so be sure to check the link for any changes between now and when you happen to run across this post.

1. Find the direct links for all the offending posts and paste them into a document. Note whether it is content, photography, or both.

2. Find the direct links for your original content that they pilfered.

3. Include both of the statements that are typed in below.

4. Sign the letter and fax it if you can to (650) 618-2680, Attn: Blogger Legal Support, DMCA Complaints. I faxed my letter (all 4 PAGES of it) and this blog was gone the very next day. Be sure to keep a copy of the digital copy of your letter, especially if like me, you had someone hijack 30 of your full posts and even more photos. The legal team will likely email you back for those links.

Now, type up your letter like this SAMPLE LETTER.


DATE

YOUR NAME, ADDRESS
EMAIL ADDRESS and BLOG ADDRESS

Google, Inc.
Attn: Google Legal Support, Blogger DMCA Complaints
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

RE: NOTICE OF INFRINGEMENT

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

Links to my original copyrighted work that has been infringed upon:

[here list all of your original content hyperlinks that were copied]


Material that is infringing the copyrighted work listed above:

[here enter all of the hyperlinks for the scoundrel who stole your stuff]


[paste in both of these paragraphs]

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted material described above on the allegedly infringing web pages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.


I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.


Sincerely,

[be sure to sign]

Fax a copy. Mail a copy. And bust the scoundrel.

If you find a blog that is stealing content, take legal action. Yeah, it took me some time. Including typing up this post to hopefully help somebody else on down the line.

But my content is gone from that blog, and if your blog was snagged, by default, so is yours. And will I do it again? You BETCHA!

Remember .... all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

P.S. Drew from How to Cook Like Your Grandmother stopped by and left this link that might be helpful also.

Some good info here at http://www.famousbloggers.net also on how to find out if your work is being stolen.
 

20 comments:

  1. Good Morning Mary,

    Just would like to know how you caught them.

    Thanks for your hard work letting us know so that we can beware!

    Joyce

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Joyce I'll email ya w/details.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, good for you Mary. I love reading your recipes because I, too, love cooking. And it totally sucks that someone could have the gall to not only steal your content AND pictures but to actually post them! It's incredible that you found out. Go girl!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am SO SO sorry that happened to you!!! I cannot believe someone would do that!!! I'm glad you took action though!! :) Thank you for sharing what to do in that situation!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Jan! Thanks so much - I'm glad you come by and visit me. THAT is the reason I do this - to share my cooking. It's unfortunate that someone did that but I've always been a pretty darned good investigator! Thanks for stopping to comment.

    Hi Jennifer - I woulda took it personally but I wasn't the only one that was having content stolen. Me, I'm just a little corner of the net but on that site there were some Very Important Bloggers (that everybody knows) who this person had also stolen content and photographs from! It was a public service to file that violation I tell ya. And yeah, I thought I would post about it so that if someone goes looking for what to do it'll be easily available. Unfortunately I'm sure it'll be needed in the future. Thanks for your sweet comment!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good for you! What jerks...and that's putting it mildly.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Have you heard? Today is Day 1 of the Where in the World is Wenda? Contest. Head over to Three Bay B Chicks and Hot Chocolate Caramel Mocha to join in the fun. Can’t wait to see you there!

    -Wenda

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Mary, I missed this post earlier and just found it. Wow, how did you find out they had stolen your work? I would like to know, it's got me curious 'cause I've wondered about that before. You put so many good recipes out there and I know they are your own creations or recipes you've tweaked to be your own. And I know how much it takes to take pictures while you are preparin' your food. I did copy your info on what to do in case it happens to me. I hope that's ok, I did before I thought, hey I just did what she's talkin' about! But I just copied to keep for my own info not to post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for the post. I found it very helpful. About to do this with a couple sites who steal ALL of my posts in full.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yay Lindsay for taking action!

    Nothing makes me angrier than to have someone steal my work for nothing more than to make money off of it. If I catch someone using my content to make money with I swear I'll file a suit against them to recover damages. Grrr.... best of luck in your pursuit.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm putting together a list of all the links to the stolen content and where they originally appeared on my blog. But I'm finding there might be 100 or so posts stolen. Do you recommend I list them all? Or should I just keep it to one page?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just want to thank you again. I emailed the hosting service of one of the four sites that have been taking my content and that blog is already gone! Woo hoo!! Thanks so much for your help!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sorry Lindsay, I was away from the computer all day and most of the night tonight, but yes, you should list all of the violations. For one, it shows how blatant the theft is. My complaint was several pages.

    BUT... YAY!!!! ::High five:: WTG. I know it's a lot of work but if more bloggers would file the complaints maybe less people would steal. Congrats on your success!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Pretty interesting,Thanks for posting, I very much liked reading your post.I think you should post more often, you clearly have talent for blogging!Mary.

    Thanks,
    Containers
    http://www.boxtcontainers.com/

    ReplyDelete
  15. hi,
    thanks for this blog. this just happened to me today. i posted my blog and within an hour it was stolen. i filed the complaint with the mdca with blogger, online (there is a form now) so i hope this will get taken care of soon. ill let you know how it goes. thanks for posting this!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi,

    I was searching the internet because I wanted to start a baking blog. I really don't have recipes of my own and I was planing on trying recipes form different internet sites and some cookbooks and post them on my blog and commenting on them. Ofcourse I would tell where the recipes came from and to who it belongs to.
    Do you think is a good idea? or do you have any advice? I really dont want to steal anything.

    Thankyou so much.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Moises - you didn't leave a way for me to communicate with you and your profile isn't set for public view, so if you'd like I'll be happy to help you - email me at mynew30 at gmail dot com and we can have a conversation!

    In short, you cannot take other people's recipes verbatim or their photographs at all, unless you have their specific permission in advance. This applies to cookbooks, individual blogs and corporate blogs, recipe and product websites, etc. It is a copyright violation. If permission is granted, then you need to link back to the specific place that features the original recipe to give credit where credit is due.

    Now. If you happen to use several recipe sources as inspiration and develop your own recipe from that, then it is your recipe to do with what you will. I usually give credit to whoever inspired me anyway.

    When they aren't using their own recipes they've used for years, or handed down recipes from friends and family, that is what many food bloggers do - we develop recipes inspired from many sources.

    Whatever you do, please only feature photographs that you have taken yourself, and photos that go with the actual recipes. To do anything else is illegitimate and wrong.

    Hope this helps! But feel free to email me also.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Mary,
    I have just found your site, can't remember how I got here, but I will save to my favs. The info about stealing from your blog was very informative. Thanks! I plan to get a website and I have a school blog. Maybe I will add more to that and get it hosted. Thanks again!
    Retta

    ReplyDelete
  19. Mary,
    Thanks for all the inforamation about stealing your recipes and blog info. I have just found your site and will save it to my favs.

    ReplyDelete

Welcome & thanks for taking the time to comment! From time to time, comment moderation may be activated due to comment spam. I also reserve the right to edit, delete or otherwise exercise total editorial discretion over any comments left on this blog.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE
All content and images, including any not yet watermarked, are ©My New 30 2008-2017, unless noted otherwise. You are free to print articles for personal use, but please do not republish anything from this site without prior written permission. All rights reserved.
Is someone stealing your content? Click here to find out what to do.