Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dear Food Blog Thief - More Blog Thievery... Again

Photo Credit: The Free Dictionary

It's happened again. Someone ... a food blogger ... is going around taking other folk's recipes and photos and claiming them as their own. Hundreds of them.

You may recall I dealt with this earlier this year after finding a blogger who had taken 30 of my recipes, verbatim, and all of the photos with them and created her own blog with them, using them as if they were her own. And I wasn't the only blogger she stole from. I was just the one she stole the most from.

I'm sorry, but I just don't understand what possesses somebody to do this!

Does it start innocent? Do they think,
"Well, I'll just start off by taking a few non-photo recipes featured on All Recipes, or Recipe Source, or Taste of Home - you know... just to get a blog started. If they are there on those sites, they are bound to be good, right? So, I'll just switch up a couple ingredients - a little more of this, a little less of that, or this instead of that - and then, since somebody is bound to have made this at some point in the past, I'll Google that recipe name on Google Images until I find a real pretty picture to put with that recipe. Oh, that copyright notice on that blog doesn't really mean anything, and heavens no, I'm not actually gonna make this recipe! That's just too much work. Who has time for that? Look how easy this is?? And then I'll just change the name a little bit and make up some little general blurb about this dish and nobody will ever know whether it's true or not."
Hmmm.... yeah. What about those pretty teenage girls of yours? I hope upon all hopes that they don't know what you're doing, but do you not think one day they won't see your blog and think "hmmm... I don't remember my mom making that, or that, and certainly not that..."

Yep. It's doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that is exactly what this blogger has been doing, just a bit of Goggle investigation. There might an original dish or two on her blog, but I doubt it. I'd even venture to guess that 99% of the recipes, tips, and photos there are stolen content.

This person took one of my low carb dessert recipes - this tiramisu recipe that I made up using Dr. Atkins original Revolution Roll recipe - a recipe that consists basically of whipped egg whites and cream of tartar.

I made layers using that, some cheese and homemade whipped cream. I admit, it was mighty good. This blogger stole my picture and then paired it up with someone else's recipe that used angel food cake and called it "Diet Friendly Tiramisu." Sorry, Dear Food Blog Thief, but there is no cake in that photograph you stole and are still using, despite my request to remove it.

Oh and by the way, that is my Mama's china up underneath that slice. My DECEASED Mama I might add.

And she took my New Year's platter of cream cheese & pepper jelly too and acted as if it was her picture.

Yep. That's the bottle of wine I bought. And that is my Mama's platter. Yeah, my DECEASED Mama. And the decorations from my party box. Dear Food Blog Thief, you should be ashamed.

And then once you get yourself in that deep and actually have people following you, is the only way that you can keep up the farce is to keep stealing?

How can you sleep at night knowing you are participating in such a fraud? Well, Bernie Madoff did it I suppose over much more serious fraud... I suppose this would be minor in comparison. Still morally wrong though.

So.... what is proper food blog etiquette anyway?

Well, of course y'all know I have a few thoughts.

*Please don't try to be a food blogger without actually cooking anything! It shows. You may fool some people, but you won't fool very many food bloggers. And you'll make a lot of them mad by using their hard work.

*Don't use other people's recipes and photos. Just don't. It's a violation of copyright and it's just wrong.

*Don't think you'll get away with theft long. Maybe a few months at best, but food bloggers are a tight-knit group, and once you are discovered, the word will get around about your blog. And while some food bloggers won't fool with filing a complaint for copyright infringement, some certainly will.

*If you make a recipe that was inspired by another blogger, even if you change up the ingredients or directions a bit, give them credit! Afterall, they inspired you. And link back to their original recipe post.

*When you do actually make a recipe, use your own photos. If you don't have a camera and want to use the original person's photo, first send them an email and ask for permission. But don't do this if you haven't actually made the recipe yourself. And if they give permission, you should always make a note of the photo credit and link back to their original recipe.

*If you use a photo and/or a recipe from a corporate or company website, a public site, or charitable site, always give them credit and a link back to the original source.

*If your blog is brand new and you already have hundreds and hundreds of recipes up, we know how you got them.

*It's obvious when photos are not your own. Why? There is no consistency in them. After awhile, you get to the point of where you recognize a food blogger's photography style. And certainly some of their dishes - after all, most of us don't have an unlimited supply of dishes and accessories in a "prop" room of a studio set.

*Please don't think that just because you now have one digital image of a recipe that you can say you have the original. Food bloggers take a lot of pictures to get that one perfect shot. A lot. So we have many pictures with that same set up, background, placemat, linen napkin, silverware, plate. Sometimes dozens of them. So, while you may now be in possession of one of our original digital photos, guess what? We have many more to prove you have stolen our content. Like those two photos up there? Guess what? I have quite a few unpublished shots of those recipes in my collection of digital images to prove that both of those are my original photographs.

*When you post a recipe that you have not even really made and talked about how "yummy, moist, delicious" it was, what are you gonna do when somebody actually tries it and it flops because all you did was make some adjustments on paper, but not in the kitchen? Even if people still think it was your original recipe that you made, your reputation will suffer.

*And for heavens sake, if you're guilty of doing this, JUST STOP. And, just fess up. Apologize to your followers and remove the content that isn't your actual recipe and photo and start over. Get in the kitchen, cook, take pictures and do a legitimate food blog of recipes and images that are yours, not other peoples. If you've made friends with your followers, most of them will appreciate your honesty and they will forgive you.
Okay, so my fellow bloggers, let's unite! Stand up against this kind of theft and take the time to file a complaint if you have had material compromised. If you do nothing, they will keep on stealing. Go here for a sample letter and instructions on what to do.

And, please feel free to add your own two cents & advice here in the comments.

39 comments:

  1. Oh no! Not again!

    It's probably because you make so much delicious food Mary. Hope they make them take down the blog.

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  2. Hi Kim!! Long time no see!

    Yeah, this is pitiful. I honestly do not know how people who do this can live with themselves honestly.

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  3. Bummer. Hate that. I just don't understand why people think it's ok to steal someone else's photos. I take over 150 photos sometimes of a dish to get that perfect one that gets published, and then someone just grabs it and used it. Thanks for alerting us to this thief.

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  4. YOu need to put a Watermark on ALL of your photos...no matter what!! That way they can copy them, but your name is smeared all over it.

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  5. RG, I take it you got my @reply with the link to your photo? Pretty bold huh?

    DP, I know. The software for that is on the Mac desktop and I'm usually on the PC laptop. Such a hassle!! And I already have so many photos up to go back and watermark. Watermark or not, I can prove copyright, and this just angers me so much for somebody to do such a thing.

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  6. Seriously people, if you aren't creative enough to do your own stuff, then don't blog. What's the point? I just don't get it.
    Sorry you have to go through this again!

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  7. I wonder what food she really eats, if she's not making those recipes. WHAT'S COOKING at her house? lol

    Anyways, it's a big shame. *tsk tsk*

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  8. It's appauling behaviour at best; illegal at worst.

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  9. I'm glad your around to catch people like that Mary, I wouldn't even know what to do besides leave a nasty comment about taking my picture AND recipe off their blog!!

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  10. I have started adding a copyright statement on most of my food pictures. I haven't been stolen from yet that I know of, but I'm just trying to get into a habit of it.

    SO sorry this happened to you.

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  11. I don't know, I became a blogger because I saw so many nice people and good food. And now this person, who has no life...just had to go and do this.....Is this your happiness? So, so sad. There's always one idiot who likes to ruin it for others. Too bad all of us honest bloggers can't put your big fat name on our blogs so everyone can see who you are. Oh well, you can run from Mary, but you can't hide!!!!!!

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  12. Wow! Great blog!! (I came over after you commented on my blog- thanks by the way)I'm so sorry about the nasty thief!! I will be checkin' out your blog for recipes I love to cook!

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  13. I guess some peopel are just plan lazy, or dont' have any abilities of their own.

    I think you should out her and not be so cautious about protecting her. Then perhaps we can cancel our subscriptions to her blog. Just a thought.

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  14. http://housewifecooking.blogspot.com/ is the blog. If you google the recipe names in google images you'll see a bunch of the images come from other blogs or sites. Google the directions or ingredients to that same recipe and it'll usually pop up on one of the recipe sites. Sad.

    Jenny

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  15. I know, this is ridiculous. Nobody should do this to create a blog. It's just dishonest - and how can they think they won't be found out eventually?!

    Denise, I'm not necessarily trying to "protect" her so much as me. I'll let Google Legal deal with her if she doesn't remove my pics, but I'm happy to provide info to anybody who asks via email.

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  16. Mary, would it be possible for you to email me? I've found several references to your recipe and some of the references credit this other person for YOUR recipe and photo. I can send you these links privately.

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  17. Well dearie since this is your comments I'll keep it clean, but what a creepy little sneakthief she is, and how DISGUSTING!!! She's as fake as a $3 bill, UGH!!!

    YOU are the real thing, the real cook, the real creative genius in the kitchen and she is just a hairball. The nerve of her.

    Karma is going to up and bite her good one of these fine days.

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  18. I went to that blog spot cited and she must have removed everything because nothing came up when I searched. She isn't the one i found.

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  19. Hi Linda, I didn't see an email on your blog but you can email those links to me at mynew30 at gmail dot com

    Penniwig!! You go!!

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  20. Correction, there are titles to pages: Low fat tiramisu and Pepper jelly appetizer but the pages aren't loading! How low can someone go!

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  21. Ok! I sent you an email with the links from my yahoo email.

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  22. That is the craziest thing I have ever heard. Why would anyone want to steal your recipes and start their own blog. That's just nuts!!!

    I do take your recipes and make them though....

    Thanks for sharing them... I have been making Southern Sweet Tea all wrong... and I've lived here all my life. I have left the tea bags in.. go figure.

    Be blessed!

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  23. I just found your blog and added you to follow on Twitter PLUS I added you as well on my own blog's 'foodie' blog list. I, too, live in the South.

    The truth is there are very, very few authentically "new" recipes. How can one tell where the origin is for every recipe that is passed down?

    What really, really irks me is when people like the famously fat queen, Paula Deen uses a recipe on her show that I know for a fact was featured in Bon Appetit magazine in 1995, plus it was on the cover! I know this for a fact because I subscribe to B.A. and actually MADE the very same recipe for a party --- to the 't' she copied it out of the magazine. SHE NEVER GAVE the magazine credit. She also claims to have a recipe that she serves in her restaurant for peach cobbler that has been passed around for YEARS! It goes without saying that I refuse to watch her show any more!

    If you know that folks are stealing from your blog, than I'm ALL ON YOUR SIDE with shared disgust....but the problem is that the pros (like Ms. Deen) do it all the time and no one points them out for their wrongdoing.

    I do what Cook's Illustrated does....I look at a gazillion ways to make a recipe and then make my own.....this is what I post on my blog. Cook's Illustrated publishes its own versions of recipes that are researched from the plethora of recipes 'out there' and feels it is OK to then publish their version. Is that plagiarism? I don't think so. I'll continue to follow their (highly respected) example on recipe creation and publishing.

    I would like to know how to put a 'stamp' logo/name on each photo that I upload....do you know how to do that? That way photos always have it on them and cannot be erased if someone steals and re-posts them.

    Hope you stop by to my little blog in the blogosphere. I really like what you write on yours --- it is a very refreshing change! Thanks for giving your readers a heads up on theft!

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  24. Oh Julie, I'm sure your tea was just fine!! I here to share recipes, I just don't want people taking my images and attaching them to other recipes!!

    Bella, I sure will check your blog out. Besides my tried and true stuff, when I don't credit a magazine or cookbook or other blogger with a recipe, that's how I cook too. It's a combination of inspiration from family, friends, research and a gazillion cookbooks I own and years of cooking. I sort of combine ideas, give it a try and if it works well, I post it! To stamp your photos you'll need Photoshop - you can do it with the Elements program which is signficantly cheaper. It's just another aggravating step, but I guess I need to do that too. I've heard that you can undo it with the same programs but apparently it's not easy and not worth the effort for a thief. I'll be sure to visit you and thanks for the follow - I'll be sure to follow back!

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  25. So sorry Mary. My comment was really directed at the "problem" not you. I am sorry you, and it sounds like others, are dealing with this. Hang in there, sounds like she got the message.

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  26. That is Rude Rude Rude!!!! When I make your stuff I always refer everyone to your website! There is no way I could make up this fabulous food on my own! LOL!

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  27. wow...what a jerk!!! she sure needs to change her shameful ways!!! I kinda feel sorry for her being so pathetic that she needs to steal from others to make herself look good!!! I have had that happen to me too...my garden is MINE...and someone tried to pass it off as her own...until she got busted and the followers on my blog let her know it!
    Dirt Princess has a great idea there!!!

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  28. I read your excellent comments and came away with one major thought. The person who is stealing from other bloggers is pathetic. She is probably lonely, no friends, no life.

    Otherwise, why do this?

    How foolish of her not to think she will be caught. What a shame but the shame is on her.

    All you have done is share with us a beautiful blog with great photos and I thank you for that.

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  29. Tootsie, are you SERIOUS?? That's crazy! What is WRONG with people??!!

    The good news is that this blogger did take down my content finally. The bad news is she has tons of other folks content up and until they confront her, I doubt that she will take it down.

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  30. Chaya, thank you so much for your kind words.

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  31. Mary is right, until we contact the people/sites whose content she has copied--and it is a LOT, if not all of her recipes!--she probably will not remove any of it.

    I have sent this blogger an email directly asking if she did not know that all the material she has copied to her website is protected by copyrights and that she should always get permission to copy someone else's material to her website, even is she has made any slight change(s).

    I've also contacted allrecipes.com and tasteofhome.com with links to recipes she copied from their site and the links to those sites from which she copied.

    Yes, this can take a little time and effort, but well worth it. I've been copied myself--both web content and someone claiming to have made a quilt top I made & sold on ebay, so I know how Mary feels. It's like someone slammed you in the stomach!

    Even if you contact a site with just one example, they'll take notice!

    I've found one recipe she copied directly from a printed book! I intend to find the author's email addy or contact her through a friend of hers.

    And, I'm going to complain to blogger even though it is not my material she is copying because they have to be made aware of what is happening and need to be held to account.

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  32. Well put Linda!

    I am a paralegal by trade, so I get real self righteous when I see someone doing an injustice - whether it is to me or to someone else. Having someone just take your work is really like Linda said - like getting a punch in the gut. It's sort of like the same kind of violation you feel when someone breaks into your home.

    What troubles me more than this person simply copying recipes from different sources - apparently thinking they'd be obscure enough not to be noticed - is that to then go in search of other people's images of similar recipes, people who actually MADE the dish, and then attach those to the lifted recipe and act to your followers as if it is something that you cooked, and photographed, when clearly you did not! The underlying things about THAT kind of deception to me is disturbing on so many levels.

    Well that and the fact that it seems that there are still people out in the world who apparently think it is okay to lie, cheat & steal. THAT is pretty disturbing to me too. Where are out absolutes?? You know? The basics tenets of how we should treat one another?

    What a terrible awakening to how broken we humans still are this has been.

    Thanks to all of you for your sweet comments and for expressing your feelings. I don't know if the people who should see this will, but my hope is that if they do, they will received some conviction about their actions toward others.

    Thanks again.

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  33. This is ridiculous! I can't believe the nerve of some people! I guess all you can do is exactly what you've done and chalk it up as "imitation is the best form of flattery"- your photos are beautiful and your food looks delicious.
    This is my first time on your blog- and while Im sorry it was a bad thing that brought me here- Im so glad that I get to follow you now as well! I hope better things are in store down the road, and this resolves itself QUICKLY!

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  34. I see you're on the Foodie Blogroll. That happened to several of us on there, and I posted my experience with getting a site pulled down that was ripping me off.

    By the way, to whoever said that anyone doing this obviously doesn't have a life, don't think they're doing this for the same reason you are. Most people doing this are after the advertising revenue.

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  35. Wow!! I did not know it was to this extent...unbelievable!! I'm going to have to go check this out, thank you for this post, Mary!! You can watermark your photos for free at Picnik (.com)...that's where I do mine. Yes, it takes a little time, but...hey, obviously well worth thwarting people like this. Argh. It is so frustrating and infuriating...you're so right! We food bloggers work hard and it takes time, damnit! But you're also right that we're close-knit! Karma baby.

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  36. Amen! I get so sick of people that SELL food online- but use stolen pictures!!!! I mean, what is your customer going to think when she gets something that looks completely different????

    (sorry to rant) :)

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  37. I finally got firefox and now I can see your blog again! It actually disappeared from my reader from yesterday to today. It's totally blowing my mind. But anyway, I'm back to reading.

    So how do I find out if someone has stolen anything?

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  38. Thanks Drew! I added your link to the other page where my sample letter was.

    I'll have to check out that Picnik site Heather thanks so much!!

    Michele, another blogger told me about this blogger and how she noticed the pics were hijacked off of google images and the recipes were verbatim off of various recipe sites. I didn't even know then that the blogger had some of my stuff, but I had a feeling, so I poked around and sure enough she did. I have a feed that lets me know who visits, from where and what they are doing, so when somebody comes from google looking at images, I'd say 99% of the time they are up to something like this. That's how I found the person who did this previously.

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  39. I know this post is old but I hope everything is taken care of now. How rude that someone would steal your hard work. It's a shame that people cannot be creative enough to create their own blog.

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