Food Writing Ethics: The Currency of Colleagues, or Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

by Jeanne on January 17, 2012

Professional ethics is one of my particular areas of interest.  I used to teach work ethics to college students years ago, and it’s still a topic that I’m passionate about.  This past year, I have been seeing a lot of behavior in my current field (food writing and blogging) that has caused me to go “hm.”  It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and so I thought I would start an occasional series/conversation on this topic on my blog.  Below is the first installment on this topic.  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences.  And please be aware that I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do have a lot of opinions on the topic :).

This weekend I got a call from someone who is updating a book about a certain kind of baking.  This book is about wheat baking.  This person asked several questions about my gluten-free recipe (on this blog) for that particular thing.  They also asked questions about gluten-free baking mechanics and ingredients, etc. They said that so far, my version was the best they had come across.  I told then that I was flattered and that I was was happy to help and answer questions.

It turns out that this person is planning to put a gluten-free version of the thing they write about into the second edition of their book.   As the conversation progressed, this person revealed they were thinking of putting an “adapted” version of my recipe in their book.  I asked what the “adaptation” would be.  They said that they were going to recommend using a commercially-available gluten-free flour mix instead of my flour mix.  They seemed to think that this “change” made it a different recipe and indicated that they wouldn’t need to directly acknowledge the fact that it was my recipe.  I pointed out that it would still be my recipe and that I would like credit for it in the book.  This person got flustered and back-pedaled a bit, and said that they didn’t agree, that it would be a tiny part of the book–”just one page”–and that it wasn’t that important.  I also got a bit flustered as I pointed out that actually it was important to me. (I’m not that great at standing up for myself, although I am getting better at it.)

Let’s stop for a second and talk about the whole concept of “adapting” recipes.  This is a big topic in the food world.  Especially nowadays when people have blogs where they take recipes from printed books or from other blogs and post them.  Technically, you can’t do this if it is a direct cut-and-paste of the recipe–because that infringes upon the rights of the publisher.  At the same time, recipe writers cannot copyright a recipe (although I think you can copyright a method–it’s confusing).  So, we have come up with a way of posting recipes without getting into book or blog copyright territory.  This is by “adapting” recipes.  If you take a specific recipe, change a couple of ingredients and some of the method, then you can say that the recipe is not quite the original recipe, but is close enough that it is “adapted from” the original recipe and you can post it on your blog without worrying about legal or ethical repercussions.

Back to my story.  The change that this person was proposing as an “adaptation” is not an adaptation.  It is the same thing as, for example, using King Arthur wheat flour in a recipe that calls for Pillsbury wheat flour.  It’s the same recipe. Eventually, the person said that they would thank me by name in the book.  But, I got the feeling that they were thinking of thanking me generically in the acknowledgements, versus identifying my recipe as mine and mentioning my blog and book in the process.  The difference between the two types of acknowledgements is significant.  We ended the conversation somewhat uncomfortably.

I came away from this conversation feeling disturbed.  I got the distinct impression that this person kind of thought I had just fallen off of the turnip truck and felt like they were doing me a favor by even considering my recipe.  First and foremost: I (and I’m guessing, you) do not like to feel like I am being taken advantage of.  If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I am very happy to share what I know.  And I am happy for folks to reproduce my recipes for non-commercial purposes on their blogs as long as they ask me for permission, link to my page, and make it clear that it’s my recipe.  I spend a lot of time, energy, and money on developing these recipes even though I choose to “give” many of them away on this blog.  And I’m happy to do this because I feel like it’s important to share information and ideas.

That said, I insist on professional acknowledgement where acknowledgement is due.  I am a former academic and this point was drilled into me each and every day during my time in that field.  You do not use a source in your work without citing that source in a recognizable way.  It is what is right and it’s the very least that colleagues can do for each other.  None of us recipe developers are working in a vacuum.  We learn from each other and we help each other along the way.  And it’s important to thank each other in a real way.  And if the help someone gives you furthers your work in a public way, then it’s important to be public in your acknowledgement of that person and their ideas.

One way to look at it is that in the world of colleagues helping colleagues, acknowledgement of sources and ideas–in this case, recipes–is a type of currency that must be paid.  It’s the professional thing to do.  The ethical thing to do.  The right thing to do.  And the collegial thing to do.  And, to me, it is the easy thing to do.  I am always surprised when people are reluctant to give credit where credit is due.  It’s just about the easiest (and cheapest) thing someone can do in this or any other field and it creates a tremendous amount of goodwill.

Update: After writing this post and thinking about it all weekend, I contacted my agent about the situation this morning.  After hearing the details, she made the decision to contact this author and their publisher and tell them that my recipe is “not up for grabs” for them to use in their book.  I agree with this decision.  Initially, I was open to having this person use it in their book as long as they gave me credit.  Also, I was reluctant to make a stink.  But now I realize that there is something bigger at work here–a lack of conviviality on the part of the caller, and the concept that this person felt that they could just blithely take my recipe, use it in their book, and be vague about its origin.  These recipes are a type of property–intellectual property–and people cannot cherry-pick property off of the Internet and use it for their own advancement.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Vail April 7, 2012 at 7:38 am

I teach writing at the college level and am a gastronomy student at Boston University. Not only are you spot on in your assessment of the situation as plagiarism, this conversation is becoming increasingly frequent and contentious. Lisa Heldke has a scholarly article about the ways we marginalize through not attributing when we “collect” and publish “ethnic” recipes also – “Let’s Cook Thai” in Food and Culture Reader. You might enjoy it! Once an academic…

I would love to share this post with my students in a an English 101 class framed around food. May I? I will, of course, cite my source. :)

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admin April 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

Lori: I would be honored for you to share this post! Thanks!

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Jessi (GF foodie) March 10, 2012 at 8:29 am

I am not shocked but am thoroughly appalled. I can’t even imagine someone taking my work and trying to get credit for it. I LOVE your blog (and frequently come back to see what’s new, to refresh myself on my fave recipes and just to read the blog) and I love your recipes. I always give you credit (EVEN offline) and refer people to check out your site. I’m glad you went after what is right and hopefully this will open a LOT of eyes. I thank you for all of your effort, love and devotion to this blog and its readers.

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gluten freedom February 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

Are you talking about a certain gf blogger who lives on an island? It wouldn’t surprise me to hear she stole your recipe, as every Foodie I’ve met in the Seattle area can’t stand her.

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admin February 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm

No, this is a person who has a book with wheat-based things.

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Irene February 24, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Good for you! It is extremely unethical of that person to even make such a suggestion. My sister-in-law told me about your site and since my oldest son is gluten intolerant I have been scrouring your site for recipes. Thank you for making them available for us to use; I as well as many others appreciate your efforts! I used to be a Winnipegger but moved to San Diego a long time ago; interestingly enough it is harder to find gluten free ingredients here in California than it is in Canada. I really appreciate your site!

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Eleanor at Nourishing Words February 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I really appreciate this post. I have some expertise (as a lay person in the communications field, not as an attorney) in copyright law and have fought battles of ignorance for years with colleagues who just aren’t thinking about it. In the blog world, I’ve been saddened to see how unaware people are and how easily they just use other people’s material.

I, too, would have been initially pleased and willing to allow use with credit. But the lack of respect shown to you made that not a reasonable option.

With regards to recipe copyright, my understanding is that a list of ingredients is not protected, but the process itself (written words about it) is. But, erring on the side of respect and courtesy, I would so much rather give the other blogger credit by just linking to the recipe on their site. If I’ve adapted the recipe, I’ll describe how in the body of my post, and, from there, link to the recipe. This feels friendly to me and not at all like I’m claiming anything as my own, or even partially my own.

Education on this topic is so clearly needed. Thanks for taking this step in that direction.

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John May 18, 2012 at 11:27 am

A “process” cannot be copyrighted any more than a list of ingredients can be. It is the creative expression that is copyrighted. A list of ingredients, oven temperature, whether to beat or stir, are not the copyrightable elements. That said, recipes can be copyrighted, such as my own Copyrighted Recipe for Scrambled Eggs. http://interactionlaw.com/wordpress/2011/05/29/copyrighted-recipe-for-scrambled-eggs/ Even so, anyone is free to use the list of ingredients and the process (idea) of putting them together, and incorporate that into their own recipe.

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admin May 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

John: Actually, the way the method is written CAN be copyrighted. Of course you can’t copyright kneading as a process, but you can write up the way you knead and then copyright that passage. That’s where things get really complicated.

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Sheila February 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Polite, fair, and respectful behavior would be to acknowledge the original source, and to acknowledge the change that was made. I view it as erosion of the fabric of society that so many people think it is appropriate behavior to publish another person’s work as their own.
We all have contributions to make…let’s be proud of our own, and fair about giving credit to the work of others.

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Anne Schar February 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm

My only disagreement might be that if a method is distinctive rather than “common” that it also be given an attribute. Great ethics lesson. Thanks

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admin February 8, 2012 at 7:00 am

Anne: Yes, I agree!

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Suz February 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

I’m really glad that you and your agent made that decision. Because of the internet, it’s becoming very easy to “borrow” or “adapt” recipes from other cooks and declaring them your own. Just because we’re sharing our developments and information does not mean that ethics don’t exist. Good for you and standing up for yourself.

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Yvonne February 1, 2012 at 9:14 am

Jeanne,
I saw your comment on Dianne Jacob’s blog, Will Write for Food, about this topic. Thank you for sharing your post. I couldn’t agree with you more about how you handled the situation. It’s a bit difficult in the moment when someone puts you on the spot with this type of information, but I think what you said and did by calling your agent later was a great thing, and set a precedent for the rest of us food bloggers to figure out how to handle these types of things. You’re right- recipe development takes time and money and creativity so the resulting recipes are a sort of intellectual property and there’s nothing more infuriating than to see your entire recipe (and sometimes photos, too) simply cut and paste on another site, receiving links and comments instead of on your own. I’ve been through it and sent emails to the ones who copied, but never got responses back and can’t do anything about it since 1) they are mainly overseas; 2) I don’t have an agent to do any of the calling for me.

Nevertheless, your experience will certainly help me the next time I have to face such a situation, though I hope I won’t have to.

thank you!

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admin February 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Yvonne: I know–part of the problem with those oversees sites is that they don’t care. So they don’t respond. I think those sites are a lost cause–even if you have an agent. So, I think we all need to do our best and hope things don’t get too crazy out there.

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admin January 31, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! It is nice to have such great support. In addition, it was interesting to hear everyone’s various takes on the issue.

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Laura January 27, 2012 at 7:06 am

I am with you, even if changing the flour, the recipe is still yours. I don’t understand how by giving your credit the author would suffer, I see it in many cookbooks I own. Moreover I believe that who we are as cooks or bakers is due to who came before us, people we admire and we learn from, people who developed recipes and who did so after learning from others as well, nobody lives in a vacuum. It is also so against the nature of bakers, who as far as I know are nice and sharing people for the most part.

You did the right thing.

BTW, I just asked permission to publish a recipe in my blog, the author passed it on the publicist, who passed it to the web on line publicist and I still haven’t heard from them, so sometimes when you do it right you don’t get the permission.

Happy baking!

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admin January 27, 2012 at 10:47 am

Laura: Wow, the whole publicist chain sounds a little over-the-top. Especially for a blog. Eek.

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Jennifer Hutchison January 26, 2012 at 9:37 am

Jeannie,

What this person is attempting to do is called “Cut and Paste” plagiarism, I teach this in my English class. It is something that one needs to learn about if doing any research or writing. There are many sites which address this, and a number of publications which will help the researcher/writer understand this.

As a teacher of a new course in a high school setting, I was referred to a resource called Writing in Style – A Guide to the Short Term Paper published by Perfection Learning Corporation. Our school bought these resources along with the Activity Books to use with our students. They have been invaluable in helping us to understand the definition of plagiarism, the correct way to site a source and the lawful and ethical expectations of sharing information.

On a personal note, I have always been struck by your generosity of spirit, the way in which you share your learning journey – your failures, your successes, your frustrations, your inspirations – with the rest of us. I appreciate your candour, your professionalism as a writer and your style as an artist. We are all better fed and happier because of you and your blog in our house. And we all know that ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’, just as long as the originator gets ‘credit where credit is due.’ Rock on Jeannie.

JH

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admin January 26, 2012 at 10:27 am

Aw, thanks Jennifer! I’m blushing!

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rwect January 25, 2012 at 3:57 am

I do love your recipes, they have helped me find a love for good food again-thank you.
I also believe this is plagiarism, and poor form, as others have said giving you credit would have only enhanced her own book’s credentials.

Actually i haven’t visited for a while, when i stumbled upon a recipe for Alice Medrich’s chocolate wafers, and it was so incredibly similar to your oreos, I had to come back and check (there’s no point in trying the same recipe twice, if it works fine the first time!!)
Thanks for all your hard work in developing gf recipes. x

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admin January 25, 2012 at 7:18 am

Yay! And yes, the Oreos are a mash up of Alice’s recipe and Thomas Keller’s recipe. Can’t go wrong when you are tinkering with recipes from the greats! And thank you!

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kelly February 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm

oops, I’ll bet the name Oreos is trademarked. When I was younger, a custard place in town used a trademarked candy bar name for a custard flavor and they got a cease-and-desist order over it.

I think you did the right thing talking to your agent. I know a lot of times people don’t see how what they want and what they ask from others are exactly the same thing. I’ll bet she would freak if she found one of her own recipes “modified” in the same way in another book.

I belong to a group of photographers who are always so protective of their work, yet sometimes use copyrighted music in their slide shows. They also won’t give their work away for free, but sometimes expect other people to give them stuff “for the exposure they’ll get.” People just don’t get it.

I hope you blog in the future about using recipes for contests and such. I have often wanted to enter a pie contest or something, but never have because I felt I couldn’t modify away from a recipe enough to call it my own. I mean, there’s only so many ways to make a pie, right? The whole issue is confusing to me so I’ve always just avoided it.

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Chef Gwen January 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Gosh darn it, didn’t her parents teach her the difference between right and wrong? So glad that you did stick up for yourself and contact your agent. Thanks for writing about it, too.

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Cristina January 22, 2012 at 6:13 am

I just want to say you made the right call and I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your recipes and knowledge! We are new to GF and baking has always scared me, the info and not to mention your all purpose flour have saved me money. I would of normally run to the store to buy bread and goodies are ready baked. However, I can now say I am less stressed about baking and my goodies are actually that GOOD! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

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Amy January 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

I stumbled upon your blog looking for ways to bake wheat-free but got sucked into reading this post. You make a very valid point and one I have been contemplating since starting my own healthy food and wellness blog in 2011. I am not a recipe developer, and make it very clear on my site, so all of the recipes I post are healthy recipes I have come across or ones that I have slightly adapted (light sour cream or greek yogurt instead of real sour cream, etc.). I ALWAYS reference where the recipe came from, and also list it on the printable recipe page. I do not however contact every person, chef, cookbook writer for permission before posting and I seriously doubt all of these people would respond. I do however plan on contacting these sources for permission if I end up writing a book (not a cookbook but there will be recipes involved).
Is it acceptable to reference and give credit without asking for permission?

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admin January 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Amy: To be honest, I usually don’t mind if people don’t ask as long as they give me credit and link to my site. But, there are a whole lot of people out there who prefer to be asked before someone reproduces a recipe from their blog. So, I think it’s a good idea to ask. :)

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Ginger January 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

My blood would boil. In fact, it would be the same recipe, you mention in most of your wonderful recipes to use your mix or another GF mix. It is not much to ask for credit where credit is due. I see that throughout your recipes. I think it is wonderful that you are inspired by other peoples recipes and are modest enough to give that very deserving credit. I also think that you have so much confidence in your baking that you can give credit where credit is due. I thank you for your character, credibility and your talents! Fight for what is right.

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Stan Starsky January 20, 2012 at 9:47 am

Wow…I can’t believe the nerve of someone calling you then stealing your recipe. I have also heard that you cannot legally protect a recipe. I wrote a snacks cookbook and some of the recipes took me a long time to revise and test. So I know how much it can hurt when someone just takes from you.

A recipe can seem incredibly simple and it could seem pretty harmless to “borrow” it without giving any credit from the person that came up with it. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is the amount of flop recipes or revisions and adjustments that can go into coming up with that final version.

You were also very kind to simple refer to this person as “someone” without giving out there name or company.

Good luck and you might want to refer that “someone” to your blog.

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Cosmos January 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I agree with you, and I’m glad you stood up for yourself and took it to the next level and got your agent involved.

I have no interest in a cookbook that focuses on wheat and has adapted or modified a few recipes. I don’t think most traditional bakers have the experience in modifying recipes to be gluten free. If only it were as simple as switching out flour! Or switching flour and adding a dash of xantham gum.

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Nikol January 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Well said, Jeanne. And good for you for standing up for yourself. I totally agree with you. As you know I’m working on launching my own gf food blog lately and I’m getting a first hand taste of how much work goes into this (and it’s not even functional yet!). I have been reading a lot about copyright issues for recipes–there are some good ones out there–but one article in particular sited a study that was conducted on “stolen recipes” and it is astounding how many are online. I am an English major and, as such, I am very sensitive to this issue. What happened to ethics in this world?????

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amy January 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

I agree with you. . . changing an ingredient here or there is not ‘changing’ the recipe at all!

I don’t understand why people don’t understand plagiarism. . . as a holder of an English Education degree, it’s quite frustrating!

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Livia January 19, 2012 at 4:12 am

First off – I think you made the right call on account of the underhanded tone of this author’s ask.

That said, I don’t think this is a field whose answers are always clear and easy.

One of the commenters above talked about how there’s no possible harm in giving credit. But – okay, so I’ll admit that I was intrigued and went through the recipe archive trying to guess what kind of baking cookbook was being written – say the author was trying to capture your blueberry muffin recipe. And that author links to you. And someone feels it is important to check where you got your inspiration from and found that it was adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. That trail back, combined with profits from book sales, would be opening an author to risk.

There also seems to be a huge divide on credit between book publishing and blog publishing cultures. And while many online communities have delightful trails of citations and inspirations, it’s much more rare to see in a print cookbook. Cookbooks seem to require an air of assurance and expertise, whereas food blogging is about community and giving each other inspiration. And I don’t know if that’s changing now that more cookbooks are being written by bloggers (and more cookbook authors have become bloggers), but I hope so.

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Eden Miller January 18, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Oh yeah…. I live here in Washington, Sultan to be exact… The bakery I helped to open is near… I will be classy enough not to name any names, but just beware! Perhaps you and I could talk off the record sometime… I am venturing out into my own GF/DF business now and would love some insights from someone who has been around the scene for a while. I have been a chef for 15 years, but new to “this” world in the last year. Let me know if you wouldn’t mind a mini consult! :-) Thanks. Hope you are getting to do some comfort baking with all this snow!

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Eden Miller January 18, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I couldn’t agree with you more. I spent six months over the summer helping a “friend” open a gf bakery and we were supposed to be “partners”. Lo and behold, six months after the opening date I was “laid off” and MY recipe notebook was nowhere to be found. It was okay that I was asked to leave… I no longer wanted to be there after I found out that the recipes that she had “worked” so hard on for the past two years (b.s.), were all stolen from the book of another woman… teaspoon for teaspoon, mind you!!!! SO I can sympathize with you… Where are peoples values, morals, and ethics!?!?!? How hard it is to give someone else the credit for their hard work? More power to you! Don’t give anyone your recipes for print unless they are going to put your name all over it! Best wishes.

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Linda J-H January 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm

This is a problem across the internet. My daughter has a small blog where she posts her photography and muses about her life. She has a few followers and obviously several lurkers, one of whom takes her posts and reposts them on their own blog, word for word, comma for comma. In addition, they backdate the post so that it looks like their original ideas. I assume their other posts come from other blogs they pilfer. It’s truly a lack of consideration and a lack of civility.

By the way, if you don’t mind sharing some of that snow, we are having a very dry winter out in our area. You can keep the wind, though – we have plenty of our own. :-)

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Tammy January 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I’m so glad you had your agent step in on this! I was thinking the same thing as I was reading and then got to your update. :) If everyone in the cooking/blogging/book writing/knitting and every other community out there would take this stance, we wouldn’t have this problem.

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Jan Andrews January 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

Jeanne,
You have been so generous with your recipes online, there is no reason to be used by other authors. If they want to publish GF recipes, then let them do the research and testing. I’m so looking forward to the Holiday cookbook this year! I’m going to buy several for friends. Thanks for everything you do to help the GF folks.

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Hazel C January 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

I see this type of thing happen. Really, do not ever sell yourself short. You work very hard to provide information to the public. This is called intellectual property. You own it. Therefore anyone who wants to share it should do so appropriately. Dont ever feel uncomfortable for defending your work! You deserve acknowledgment for it!

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Henrietta January 18, 2012 at 6:08 am

I am glad you stood up for yourself. A lot of hard work goes into recipe development. I had the privilege of helping you test some of your recipes for your upcoming book and I was impressed and amazed at how much effort and time you put into them. Because of people like you being willing to post your recipes and advice I have been able to eat so well and make things taste like I remembered before gluten intolerance. Making small changes in a recipe or in the method used still leaves it fundamentally the same in my opinion. I think you did the right thing. Thank you for being brave enough to share, and standing up for yourself.

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Mira January 18, 2012 at 5:31 am

Good for you, I am glad that you not only stood up for yourself but that you are letting others know this is happening. I am upset by the laxness of credit that happens. I credit other recipes or ideas where credit is due and expect others to do the same. But when I come up with something it’s after making many revisions of the final product to get what I really like (and hope others will like too). I have been increasingly distressed by the laisse faire attitude that happens, not just with recipes but with content. If someone else thought about it and wrote it, it’s their idea. Give them credit for it. I’m glad you called your agent, that was a good move to protect yourself and your intellectual property.

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Sharon January 18, 2012 at 4:16 am

I work in the Pilates industry. My professional practice is from the works of Joseph Pilates, anyone that teaches Pilates owes their livelihood to the genius of this guy. But the industry is rife with adaptations that do not acknowledge where the original work came from, Joe Pilates. Lots of stuff under the banner of Pilates isn’t Pilates but an interpretation, reinvention or something else entirely.
It seems there is this pervasive creep of taking an idea and expanding or making it better then calling it your own. Humans have always done this, it goes back to one of your original points of sharing and improving our knowledge. But giving credit where credit is due is one of the things I’ve admired most about Joe Pilates’ protages and early teachers. They added to his work but credited him for the original. My experience with great Pilates teachers is they continually give credit to where they get any idea from. I strive to do the same in my teaching practice and I applaud you for taking a stand in your community.

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Jessie January 18, 2012 at 3:31 am

Ug. This is done so frequently it is disheartening. I purchased a gfree cookbook a few years ago offline and cringed when I got it. Every recipe could be found online at reputable sights. The author merely took them and added the ingredient gfree flour in place of a wheat flour.

Bravo to you for your passion for ethics. It is by far the worst class I have taken. I could not stomach the material. Often I went home sad and thinking, “Really? People do this? We need a class telling us not to do this?” Sheesh.

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nicola January 18, 2012 at 2:57 am

What goes around, comes around. Sad that somebody could be so blatantly unethical. Strangely enough, 2012 began for me wondering what on earth has happened to ethics. Basic morals seem to have gone out of the window in all walks of life. So pleased that you sought advice from your agent – great advice too!

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Jenn January 18, 2012 at 1:32 am

Good for you for standing up for yourself! I’m all for recipe sharing, but not in a situation like this where someone is going to be making money off of your hard work and not giving you any credit for it – I really can’t believe some people….

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Kelly January 18, 2012 at 12:17 am

What I find really unbelievable is that it never occurred to this person that crediting you would give her better credentials than if she made it look like she, an obviously conventional baker with necessarily minimal GF baking experience, single-handedly developed this recipe. I don’t waste my time with recipes developed by non-specialists. Too bad she was blinded by her own ego. Her loss.

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Shirley @ gfe January 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Thanks for writing this post, Jeanne! It’s one that’s been bugging me for some time. Twice this week I have addressed a similar issue. The first time it was my recipe that another site had posted as their favorite recipe that week. Yes, they’d linked to me, without permission that is not okay. The publisher had actually alerted me via email. It took more than one contact to get it taken down. The second time, a blogger pointed to her recipe on my FB page. It was through her site that I had found the recipe I had share the link to on my FB page, but I didn’t share her link because she had shared the recipe from the other blogger on her blog without permission. I ended up contacting her and telling her so. She said oops, but I don’t know if it was sincere. There’s oops and then there’s OMG, I didn’t know I’m so sorry. Like you and everyone is saying, when did we stop wanting to give credit to others? It does not take away from anyone to do that. One of my favorite quotes is something to the effect of “help your friend row the boat and lo and behold you both reach the other shore.” I also like Margaret Thatcher’s statement that there’s room for everyone at the top. Adaptations should be just that … true adaptations and even then the original source should be mentioned … otherwise, full credit should be given always. Sorry you had to go through this, Jeanne. I look forward to the rest of your series!

Hugs,
Shirley

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Adele January 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Jeanne
I back you 100%. Stick with it and to your guns. The internet has opened up too much of this copying and taking credit for recipes. It bugs me almost daily as I read blogs.
If you keep track of recipes as I do you will see a lot of copying going on.
I for one turned down a recipe of mine being published since they refused to credit me for it. So I understand completely.
You have every right to demand they print a credit to you.
You hit a sore spot with me. Thanks for listening.

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Mary-Colleen January 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I taught college-level writing for many years and when a student I had caught plagiarizing said in his defense, “Well, I only plagiarized, like, 1% of the paper!” I replied, “Well, if someone shoots you in 1% of your chest, you still die.”

This situation is truly disturbing. The phrase “sense of entitlement” comes to mind. Good job taking a stand, Jeanne.

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Lisa January 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Before I started a mobile tech company, I worked for ten years freelancing as a reporter and columnist. One of things I learned while being a reporter is to get it documented. Whether it was a particularly scandalous comment, description of a the role of a business colleague who wasn’t present, or just about anything else, I learned that the only way to prove something was said was to verify it in an email. If they tried to get a retraction, I had my back up. The point of this little story is to tell you to get it backed up, not just verbal. Let her know in writing that all of your blogs and recipes are copyrighted and may only be used with express permission and credit to you as the author. You may even want to mention a fee …

You have a great blog, and you were a huge help to me when I was first diagnosed with Celiac. I’ve been a food writer and developed recipes for publication, but nothing prepared me for the upside-down world of gluten-free baking.

Stick to your guns. Giving away content (in the sense that it isn’t syndicated or licensed through a publisher) on a blog is YOUR choice. Having your content reprinted without your permission is not by choice. And, sorry, changing brands of flour is not enough of a change to survive any standard out there.

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Laurel January 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I don’t see how acknowledging you as a source of the recipe could have been detrimental to this person in any way, shape or form. It’s a shame so many people feel that stealing an intellectual property is a right and proper road to their own success. I bet they sleep like babies too. I’m glad you called your publisher and stood up for yourself. Kudos!

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Candice Beck January 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm

It is always important to give credit to someone for the work they do. Anything less is stealing someone’s work; it is the same thing as walking into their house and stealing their possessions. Unfortunately it seems to be a lost “art”. My family has been eating GF for 5 years now and yours are the first recipes I have not had to adapt, they are scrumptious just as they are. The recipes you have created are truly an “art of gluten free baking” that I have not seen elsewhere. It is truly something for which you deserve to receive credit.

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Jenn in AZ January 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I find the other author’s “proposal” awful and totally unethically! As a degree candidate (finishing my Bachelor’s and starting on my Master’s), I have had it drilled into about citing sources – which is so ingrained, that I cite…all the time!

That said, I am glad you called your agent and had them take care of the issue!

And one last thing – I give out your recipes – with your url at the bottom – all the time! I reference your site and recipes for everything – and always make sure to give you the credit! You have experimented and worked hard to ensure these recipes work and you, only you deserve the credit!

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Lisa @ GF Canteen January 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Jeanne – well said. I think your decision in the end was a good one because it sets a standard and expectation for the future. I think none of us work in a void – we share, we collaborate, we build, we develop, we modify – all based on those who came before us whether in print or the internet. Recipes are not novel, but there are things about recipes that are novel. It is so important to credit the source, the inspiration, the idea in the right manner. There are rules in academics about how that works. We really ought to try to make some of those rules apply to this venue as well.

And the bottom line for me? Appropriate attribution – It’s polite. Good manners. And the sign of a someone who is self confident.

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admin January 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Lisa: Thanks for the input!

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