If I made someone else's recipe in its entirety or with minor modifications, I link back rather than republish the recipe on my blog. Example: Turnip Cake.
If I saw something and then made something similar, but did not go from a recipe, I'll say I was "inspired." Example: Mango Chicken.
If I used someone else's recipe as a starting point, but made substitutions, I'll say I "adapted" the recipe and link back. Notice I don't do it half-assed by saying I got it from "here." I provide the name of the blogger and/or the blog and a link to the appropriate page. And I placed the link in a prominent location below the recipe title. Example: Gaeng Kiaw Waan (Thai Green Curry with Thai Eggplants).
Notice in all of the examples, I used my own photos, wrote everything in my own words, and linked back to the appropriate page with the full name of the website or blog. Just because something's available online doesn't mean it's free. And no, using someone else's photo or recipe and providing a link back isn't always enough. I observe these courtesies because I know how much work goes into creating each post and want to be respectful of the blogger. I also like playing within the confines of the law.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, all works published after January 1, 1978 are held under copyright protection until the creator's death plus 70 years, regardless of whether or not a copyright was filed. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 further requires that Internet Service Providers (ISP) remove the copied material when notified of a copyright violation. Now, whether you can enforce these laws might require an attorney, but those are your legal rights. There are Spam Blogs (Splogs) that will steal your photos and content, run ads, and hope to profit from your hard work. ProBlogger has the steps he took when someone stole from him in, "What to Do When Someone Steals Your Blog's Content - Blog Plagiarism." Lorelle on WordPress has more detailed information on "What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content."
Just because something's online doesn't mean it's free.
Pineapple Fried Rice.
I've seen what appears to be people's recipe catalog, the modern version of clipping recipes from magazines and newspapers, except they've cut and pasted from other blogs. Unless the blogger or business gave you free rein to take whatever you want, republishing it on your blog is copyright theft. It doesn't matter if you gave credit, when you don't have the rights to republish that material.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office, lists of ingredients in recipes can't be held under copyright protection, but if there is:
"...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."If you plan to adapt a recipe from a cookbook, magazine, or corporation, you may want to check out the furor Melissa of Alosha's Kitchen got into when she "adapted" a potato salad recipe by Cook's Country.
Know what's sad? Twice now, I've caught people on Biggest Menu pretending someone else's photo was their homecooking. The first time it happened, a girl copied word for word the description that Tigerfish of Teczcape had used to describe her steamed fish, including the "here, here, and here" part. Except obviously, the thief didn't make the fish so she couldn't link the "here, here, and here" part or else people would know it was Tigerfish's. I immediately recognized the picture. A quick search revealed she also stole two other photos from other bloggers and pretended she made those dishes too. I commented and said I knew she did not cook any of those dishes, and notified Tigerfish. The girl deleted the photos. Then it happened again, when i_lisz stole Rasa Malaysia's or nee (taro dessert) photo. She either didn't check her comments or knows no shame.
I used to have a full copyright notice on my blog. That meant none of my photos or content can be republished, regardless of whether or not there was a link back. When I saw my Double Delight rose photo on someone else's blog, I attempted multiple times to comment and to ask the blogger to at least give me credit. After no response, I sicced my readers on her and she eventually credited me, then decided to remove the photo. If you read the comments on that thread, you'll see that she assumed that since she found it online, it was free for the taking.
My initial posts were quite lackluster because I didn't want anyone stealing my content. After that incident, I realized that establishing my presence is the surest way to protect my copyright. If you establish yourself and your blog and have wonderful readers, if politeness fails, you can shame people into removing the content they stole from you.
As a compromise from full copyright, and what I eventually switched to, is a Creative Commons License. Not all CC licenses are the same. If you've read my copyright and attribution notice, you'll note that I allow some use of my photos or content, provided that the person links back and credits me properly, and that they don't make any money from my content.
Some blogs and websites don't allow you to use any of their photos or text, regardless of whether you credit them or link back, so pay attention to the fine print. I've seen blogs pull images from Flickr, when the fine print clearly states "All Rights Reserved." The U.S. Copyright Office section on Fair Use, allows quotations of excerpts in a review, it does not allow for you to republish a photo on your blog, even if you provide a link back.
That's why I said at the beginning of this series that if you just wanted a repository to store recipes you liked or cooked, don't make it public. Once it's public, there are blogging courtesies, if not copyright laws, by which you have to abide. Even if the blogger doesn't come after you, you've just created enmity unnecessarily.
If you like something, link to it. If you used someone's information, link to it. Links. Links. Links. Most people are happy to receive a link and credit.
So is there a proper way to link? Actually, there is.
My links give proper credit to the source and also helps my search engine optimization (SEO).
"I learned the right way to link from here."
"I learned the right way to link from Wandering Chopsticks."
"I learned the right way to link from Wandering Chopsticks in her post, "Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted."""
Obviously, either one of the last two examples are a good way to credit the source because my name or the title of my post are the parts that are linked. But, how is this also the right way to link in order for search engines to find the content? Google's Webmaster Tools explains in Title Tags and ALT Attributes that:
"Your title tags and alt attributes contain important information that Google uses when indexing your site. Descriptive information will give us good information about the content of your site. In addition, text contained in your title tag can appear in search results pages, and useful, descriptive text is more likely to be clicked on by users."How many times do you think other bloggers use the word "here"? And how descriptive is it? "Here" doesn't tell you who or what. Is using "here" wrong? Lots of bloggers do it. I did it myself at first because I thought that's how I was supposed to link. But it never quite sat well with me because I hated seeing my information referred to on someone else's blog as just "here." So I started giving credit by providing the blog or website name and the information. There's no way for me to track whether linking made a difference in my Google hits, but I was able to track the use of tags in titles.
For instance, I used to try to come up with clever and catchy titles for my posts. My recipe for goi cuon (Vietnamese salad rolls) had a long rambling anecdote and was titled "I Never Knew Rice Paper Was So Complicated." Here's the URL: http://wanderingchopsticks.blogspot.com/2007/01/i-never-knew-rice-paper-was-so.html
What does the search engine read?
I Never Knew Rice Paper Was So Complicated
The key parts of the URL:
If you were searching for goi cuon or Vietnamese or salad rolls, none of those terms would turn up my recipe. That's because the parts the search engine read were none of those words. No one, search engines or people, knew my recipe existed. So I fixed my title. I couldn't change the URL, so I titled the post, "Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Salad Rolls): I Never Knew Rice Paper Was So Complicated."
The result? Depending on the day and Google's finicky indexing engine, my recipe will often turn up on the first page of searches. For some reason, "goi cuon" isn't showing up today, it did the other day. :( But "Vietnamese salad roll" turns up on the first page. You want to land on the first page of searches as often as possible. After all, how many pages would you go through to click around for information when you type in a search?
I have since learned to simply title my posts with the name of the recipe or restaurant. When it comes to food blogs, use the words that people will be searching for -- the recipe name or restaurant name.
While I'm at it, it's good blogging courtesy to acknowledge information you've gathered via another source. For example, in my post, "Easiest Blogger Hacks: 3-Column Template, Favicon, Label Cloud, and Navigation Bar," I shared where I got my information and also said:
"And since I'm on this tangent of easy hacks, last fall, tipped off by Oanh of Halfway Between Ca Mau and Sai Gon, I found Phydeaux's hack for Code for New Blogger Tag Cloud/Label Cloud."Or you can do "via" links the way Noodlepie or Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn did.
I certainly appreciated the shout out, even if it was only because I pointed them toward other information. Of course, you don't have to link this way, but doing so will build better rapport with other bloggers. If another blogger made one of my recipes and posted about it, I often go back to that post and add a link to their blog and their post. If they only said they got it from "here," I don't bother. Extend courtesy and you'll get it in return.
So what do you think? What's your definition of by, inspired, and adapted? How do you link? How do you observe blogging courtesies and copyright laws?
- How to Start a Food Blog
- On Blogging and Food Blogging
- Choosing a Blog Host
- Picking a Name: Be Clever, Original, and Memorable
- Posting: Frequency, Topics, and Accuracy
- Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted"
- Your Online Identity: Blogging Interactions and Comment Policies
- Photos: Photography Tips, Storage, and Watermarking
- Design: Layout, Navigation, and "Above the Fold"
- Blogrolling: Will You Be My Friend?
- Building Traffic: Participate in the Community and Respond to Your Stats
- Measuring Success: Cheerleader or Nerd?
- Public Relations: Handling the Freebies and the People
- Monetizing Your Hobby: To Ad or Not to Ad
- Bottomline: Have Fun, but Protect Your Work
1 year ago today, Squash Blossom Quesadilla.