A quiche recipe I’ll be sharing with you soon. With proper accreditation of course.
One thing that I’m not very good at when it comes to blogging is doing follow-up posts. I’ll ask for help, and then never tell you what changes I made because of your input! I’m going to try to change that, and I’m going to start with some tips on what to do when you want to post a recipe on your blog, tips cultivated from the feedback you gave me!
First, I think it’s important to define why it’s important to source properly. Not only is it the legal thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Imagine you put hours and hours into… photographing a wedding. And someone liked the pictures so much that they posted the entire wedding set on their blog, and mentioned in passing that you took them (or didn’t mention you at all). What they should have done was picked a favorite photo, talked about what they liked about it, and sent their readers to your blog to see the full set. Or they should have emailed you to ask if they could feature your photos and had explicit permission. Makes sense right? Same thing with recipes. That is the reason why we should all be thinking about this, because not sourcing or getting proper permission is stealing from the original author.
I think the most important thing to remember when trying to work out the multitude of questions that can arise when thinking about this issue, is what a person can “own”.
I own the pictures I take.
No one ever owns a list of ingredients.
I own the recipe directions as written out in my own words.
You have the same right as well. So if you invent a portobello mushroom pie, take a picture of it, and post it on your blog, the written out directions and the picture of said pie belong to you. They are your creation, and no one should be using them without giving proper credit or your permission.
So is it okay to take a recipe from my blog, copy and paste the ingredients and directions on your own, take your own picture and put that up on your blog? No. You need to rewrite the directions in your own words. And you definitely should be sourcing me as your inspiration with a link back to That Wife.
There is definitely a gray area in all of this though. For instance, I pinned this Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard White Lasagna from Coconut & Lime. Looks delicious doesn’t it?
Legally I can take the list of ingredients, paste it into a post, write out the instructions in my own words, and include my own picture. Personally though, I think that doesn’t give Coconut & Lime the credit she deserves for a really fabulous (looking) entree. So I’m instituting some new guidelines for myself:
If I invent something or use a family recipe, I’ll post it right here. It might be based loosely on something I’ve seen in the past, but as long as I didn’t make it with a cookbook sitting in front of me, I’m calling it my own.
If I use a recipe elsewhere on the internet as-is I will use my own picture as a teaser, and I will write notes with any minor change I’ve made, but I won’t post the recipe here. I think the person who originally developed the recipe deserves the credit.
If I use a recipe elsewhere on the internet and make really significant changes (using a different type and amount of flour, using a completely different cooking technique, etc), I will write out the recipe here, along with my notes because if I make big changes you want to be able to follow them in order to duplicate it. I think this is an area that gets abused in the food blogging world. Swapping out dark chocolate chips for milk chocolate in a cake recipe does NOT constitute significant changes. I will of course always link to the page that inspired my adapted recipe.
If I use a recipe found in a cookbook, I will get permission from the cookbook author to post it, and if that isn’t available I will simply tell you how much I loved it and hope you check it out from the library or buy a copy of your own!
If you post recipes on your blog I encourage you to think about sourcing properly and making sure that blog traffic/hits go to the rightful owner. Sites like Martha Stewart, Pioneer Woman, Smitten Kitchen and others rely on advertising and hits to make money, and when you keep the traffic on your own blog instead of sending people to see them you are stealing a little bit of the money the deserve. Show them how much you appreciate having them as a resource!
Oh, and one more note that I almost forgot. Let’s say you are browsing Amy’s blog and you fall in love with the cupcakes that have Oreos in them. If you look closely at her post though, you see that the recipe originally came from Beantown Baker. Who deserves the credit and the hits when you send people over to figure out how to make them? In my opinion Beantown Baker does, unless you follow Amy’s recipe word-for-word. If you are posting an adapted recipe I think it is only fair to say you found the recipe through Amy, but the original author was Beantown Baker.
I do have one more question. I have a cookbook from around 1913 that belonged to my great-great-grandfather. Is it old enough that I can freely post recipes without the need to get permission from someone? Same question for out of print books, if readers are unable to find the recipe elsewhere, can I be the source?
A few links based on the excellent feedback you gave me:
If you are puzzling through this same thing, I highly encourage you to read through the comments on my original post on this topic.
Echo Day pointed me to this post with a quick list of dos and donts when it comes to posting recipes.
MrsW suggested we check the copyrights of each cookbook to determine whether we can post an individual recipe. Genius!
Erin found a link on Smitten Kitchen’s FAQ page that can help us puzzle through this.
If you’re really stressed about these issues like I was, read this post Amy linked to called Recipe Attribution by David Lebovitz.