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Monday, August 17, 2009

Tastebook Steals Bloggers' Recipes and Pictures

Does the photo look familiar? The writing should look familiar too.

Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef) 3

That's because it's my Bo Luc Lac (Vietnamese Shaking Beef) photo and recipe. Reprinted without my permission.

Last week, Sis of The Cast Iron Kitchen made my recipe and in her search came across the stolen version. She quickly alerted me, unsure whether that was the right thing to do. Of course, it was! Thank you again so much for telling me.

So I followed user Robert's page and found a dozen of my recipes and/or photos that were stolen and reposted on Tastebook's site without any credit given. GRRR!!!

I promptly made copies of all the pages and emailed Tastebook support, feedback, and PR to remove the copyrighted material. All I got back was a generic auto-reply, and then once an email from support saying they're asking the user to delete the content. Not that they deleted the content immediately when it was obvious to anyone, comparing my blog post and what was submitted, that the content was stolen.

A week later, I checked and the previous links were gone. But, I found 10 more of my recipes and/or photos stolen by Serenity and Mimi. GRRR!!! I also found stolen content from several other blogs.

Why does this matter?

First and foremost, I spend a lot of time cooking, photographing, editing, and writing content for my blog. That another website allows users to steal my content is completely reprehensible. Since Tastebook is a user-submitted site, then it needs to police its content. Period.

Each of my recipes have had hundreds of pageviews on their website. In simplest terms, that means people are not looking at my website but theirs in order to get the recipe. In many cases, without attribution, people even think my recipes and photos are Tastebook's. In other cases, since the whole point of their website is for people to pay to collate the recipes into a book, then Tastebook is literally making money off my work.

This needs to stop now. It's not just Tastebook, other aggregate sites do the same thing and I'm sick and tired of it. They're all violating bloggers' copyrights and they all need to police their content.

You wanna know why I've lost energy to blog? This is why. Keep scrolling down. There's a damn lot of my recipes that were stolen.

You might not see my images on these pages, but word for word, my recipe and/or commentary have been stolen as well.

So to Tastebook and its users Robert from Huntington Beach, California; Serenity from Arlington, Texas; and Mimi from Los Angeles. Fuck you! And I mean it sincerely.

If you're a blogger, I urge you to check and make sure your content isn't stolen as well. And in case you feel like complaining and/or supporting me in asking for better policing of their user-submitted content, contact them at:


August 21, 2009 Update:
Thank you dear readers for your support and especially to those of you who wrote to Tastebook on my behalf. The recipe pages have been deleted, however, the links to those recipes, including thumbnails of my pictures, are still in place. Tastebook has unfortunately chosen to blame their users. The fact of the matter is that the "tools" they say they have in place do not prevent this from happening in the future.

Below is my reply in response to a reader's email to Tastebook on my behalf.

Thank you very much for writing to Tastebook and for your support as a loyal reader. Unfortunately, Kamran and Tastebook have yet to truly apologize to me for the outright theft of 22 of my recipes and photos. And that is only of the ones that I have found.

The fact that multiple users were able to cut and paste and post recipes that had my watermark on the photos and linked back to my blog means that Tastebook has nothing in place to prevent this from happening again. A moderator or editor would have easily spotted these inconsistencies and raised a red flag.

The fact of the matter is, TasteBook HAS posted stolen content. Not of just my blog, but the blogs of Sunday Nite Dinner and Oishii Eats as well. To top that off, after my post, Nosh and Tell found they had stolen content on Tastebook as well. So it is completely irresponsible, as well as an outright lie, to say that they don't post stolen content since Tastebook DID and CONTINUES to do so.

It is one thing to say they have a policy that doesn't permit it, and another thing entirely to actually have measures in place to prevent this from happening. That is my point. Tastebook as user-submitted site cannot blame the user for their error.

Also, Kamran keeps cutting and pasting the same canned reply. How do I know? Besides the fact that it is the exact same comment, he continues to misspell my website's name on second reference in his comment on my blog and in replies to readers. That shows a complete disregard for this whole matter. Also, Kamran, "it's" is "it is" if you're trying to say the possessive form, it's spelled "its." If you truly found this whole discussion "frustrating" then you would actually respond appropriately instead of blaming your users for your lack of security. I also find it very amusing that in your reply, you actually admitted that "TasteBook does post stolen content..."

1 year ago today, Ca Tim Nhan Cha Tom (Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste).
2 years ago today, Bananas Frita (Cuban Fried Bananas).



  1. This is horrible,you shoiuld be given credit for the recipe, and your snappy comments should not be used. I can't beleive it.

  2. I remember you tweeting about this a few weeks ago. It is reprehensible for sites like Tastebook to allow this thievery to continue! I think part of the problem is that it is so rampant that it's hard to keep up.

    I occasionally come across recipes/photos of mine that have been stolen and used on other sites, many times with attribution, but sometimes not. But, I'm sure it is only the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, if I spent the time needed to track down all of the crooks who steal my stuff, I'd have no time to keep up my blog or do much else! I even use Tracer, so I know that my content and photos are being copied, but I just don't know where they are being copied to.

    Kudos to you for taking a stand and fighting back!

  3. OMG! That is a lot of stealing. I love what you do, please don't get discourage on blogging. I find it a joy to see your recipes in my reader. It is hard to discourage thievery on the web when it has become second nature for people to cut and paste or download whatever they want to wherever they want.

    Please keep going and fight back!

  4. You probably already know this, but you can sue for infringement....

  5. Hey WC - I know this may seem like a pain. But the domain is registered through GoDaddy. And this is the legalese trademark and infringement policies for domains using GoDaddy. They have the power to shut down the domain.


    I'm hoping that can help.

  6. Unbelievable. Apparently, there are more than a few folks who never learned that stealing is wrong. Shame on Robert, Serenity and Mimi for blatant thievery and shame on Taste Book for poor policing.

  7. Wow that is absolutely ridiculous! I can see why you'd be so discouraged. Good for you for calling them out on it....we wouldn't want to lose you and your recipes!

  8. I can only reiterate others' comments that this is just so wrong! Unfortunately, I have come across more than one site whose content is almost entirely composed of other people's work, without a single attribution. To add insult to injury, they revel in the compliments they receive about 'their' work.

    I hope you come down on Tastebook and these users/thieves like a ton of bricks!

  9. yikes! this is just wrong...it just sucks that you put work into a blog and someone else just takes it..sorry.

  10. Just sent some comments to Tastebook. I do hope you pursue it with GoDaddy as Kirk recommended.

  11. what a joke and a complete insult to those of us who really enjoy the art of cooking and the journalism that follows the creativity. I can't stand thieves!

  12. I know it's gonna take some time, but I want you to move forward from all this bull sh*t and blog like it's 2007. Wandering Chopsticks is a joy to read and I've missed it! Don't let those three thieves rob you of your passion.

  13. Man! OK - if it was one or two, I may get it but looks like they straight-out copied everything! How can someone live with that? that's just morally bad joujou. After reading all your "how to write a food blog"...I totally hear you on copyrights. I wish there was a way to send some flames over to tastebook - copybook is more like it...

  14. Wow! How unprofessional. Guess I won't be visiting that site anytime soon. Thanks for letting us know.

  15. I'm sorry to hear that. Don't let it discourage you from blogging. I hope Tastebook apologises to you or at least take some active action to take down the stolen materials soon.

  16. Wow this is pathetic, stealing content from other people... I myself have been reading your blog for years now, and strongly encourage you to continue. I bookmarked your URL and visit your blog every other day. I'm not going on those websites, therefore I've been pretty sad seeing that you don't blog that often anymore. Now I understand why. Keep up the good work, and don't let this slow you down. Your blog is terrific!

  17. is there any legal action you can take against them?? there has to be some violation (copyright infringement) here because they are making profit!! i urge you to seek the advice of a lawyer!

  18. I am shocked by the users of Tastebook! How would they even do such a thing? One post of your recipe is already mean enough. 20+ posts is just horrendous. Don't let them pull you down though! Fight back and keep doing your great work in your blog!

    Thanks for inspiring me to write out my Attribution and Copyright rules for my blog today as well as sparking my thoughts to go check out if anyone was using my content inappropriately. I found a software engineer who not only violated the CC license, but also used my photo for a post not at all relevant to my photo...so I guess the company took immediate action and took the photo out within 30 minutes of my asking. Only if Tastebook and BzzAgent (cough cough) could reply so quickly to stolen content.

  19. Folks- I understand your frustration over these copyright violations. We also find this frustrating. As the Founder and CEO of TasteBook, I'd like to clarify our policies. TasteBook takes copyright law very seriously and does NOT post stolen content. As many of you may know, our users are able to upload personal recipes, however they must abide by our terms of service (http://www.tastebook.com/home/tos). In the case of Wandering Chopsticks, we had a few users who were uploading recipes from this site. Once we received an email from Wondering Chopsticks, we notified the user, took down the content, and disabled their accounts. Once again, TasteBook does post stolen content and furthermore, will take down any content that is reported to be used w.o permission of it's owner.

  20. some ppl have no shame. they hide behind these fake internet identities and think it's okay to do whatever they want. you're rightly upset and i'm glad you are standing up for not only yourself, but other folks as well.

  21. AH I just checked and numerous of mine have been stolen too?! It's one thing to take the recipe, but to take the recipe without credit and the pictures? I'm going to be emailing as well, hopefully someone can help us sort this out. Unfortunately I think a lot of people just take pictures and things without giving credit and don't even think twice about it.

  22. I see this all the time when I look up recipes. I'll see the same ones, word for word, in different sites. I usually have no idea who the original author is. Pretty lame for folks to do that.

    That being said, I think it is pretty easy for readers to trace your recipes back to you because WC is one of the very few blogs that posts such great Vietnamese recipes with such good photography. I think most folks who like to cook Vietnamese who don't have the benefit of a family member or Vietnamese friend to show them how know where to get the scoop on authentic Vietnamese recipes. If that's any consolation anyway.

  23. Ugh, I'm so indignant for you! Having my images/content stolen is one of my biggest fears. I hope that this works out for you.

  24. I truly hope this ordeal doesn't sour you towards more blogging. I look to this website for probably a third of my supper/dinner menu. We all appreciate your recipes.. on this website.
    Hopefully TasteBook can find a way to keep this from happening again, although I imagine it is an uphill battle.
    Stay with it.

  25. I can certainly understand your anger and frustration with this. These posters are not merely taking credit for recipes and photos that they simply stole, they are also ascribing your thoughts and experiences as their own. Your blog is much more than simply a collection of recipes. I think that is why so many of us hope you will not let these thieves silence your voice.

  26. Multiple recipes, multiple accounts, ripped from multiple blogs? Recipes from multiple users, sourced from a single blog? That's a lot of coincidences.

    I'll take Kamran at his word, however, as that's all we have to go on - his service and website seems legit. I don't think it was their intent to pour all that cash into crafting a business plane and a nice website only to have it purposely subverted by some rogue copyright phantoms.

    From what I can tell, Tastebook allows you to create your own personalized recipe book. Presumably, Robert, Serenity, and Mimi could have copied/pasted these recipes to create their own cookbooks. Perhaps Tastebook shouldn't treat recipes culled verbatim as public domain, at least not by default. Perhaps more of a wiki concept could work, I dunno.

  27. oh my gosh...when i first read this, i've decided that i won't give tastebook the benefit of me clicking through their site for higher traffic. however, reading through the commments, i appreciate kamran's response and glad that tastebook took actions. maybe things could be added to the website to prevent the copy and pasting actions, strongly advise/warn users not to post things which aren't theirs.

  28. I'm so sorry to here about this situation... THEFT is what it is really. I was wondering why you didn't blog so much anymore, but I just wanted to tell you you I enjoy reading your blog very much, so please don't let people and sites like this hold you back! =)

  29. I'm sorry to see that. This is absolutely a theft and taking credit for someone else's work is heartbreaking. I know how you feel about it as you have helped me earlier this year with the Biggest Menu fiasco where a reader took my photos and credited himself for my work. He not only reaped the praises, but have the audacity to tell people how great "his work" was.

    I don't know what goes in the mind of those two individuals who took your work, but I hope find other ways to compensate their ego boost other than to steal it from others and posted as their own.

  30. Stay strong chika!!! Though I'm sorry you have to deal with this...I'm glad you're back, blogging again! In fact, just a moment ago, in hopes of planning my lunch for tomorrow I came across your comment and suggestion for bun cha at #1 Pho Manh on GASTRONOMYBLOG. It's your willingness to share a vast food knowledge in addition to all of your amazing creations that keeps this reader coming back for more! Hopefully this will be your last blog in this category.

  31. Wow, that's damning, and scandalous. I'd call a lawyer and bust open a can of whup-ass.

  32. Horrible. I agree with mattatouille. Call a lawyer. Get them to send a super mean letter to Tastebook and threaten action against them if they do not remove the photography and recipes. It will cost you a little bit of money to hire an attorney but a good attorney should be able to write up a letter like this in about an hour or two. Alternatively, they should pay you for partnering with them --- like they did for 101Cookbooks and Simply Recipes.

  33. MYGOD, that is irritating to no end! Some people are just no good. I hope this doesn't deter you from blogging altogether.

  34. This is why I fucking hate people.

  35. I do hope you are not completely discouraged. I love your blog and it has given me access to great Asian recipes...some of which are my favorite foods to cook. This just sucks for you and I hope they change the policy or at least look into it further so no one else has to deal with this. I will keep a look out if I see anything up there in the future. Take care and don't give up the fight.

  36. So sad that this happened to you and some people out there would do something like this..i mean what's there to gain?? make the damn dish and attribute it!

  37. Oh no! I've always enjoyed your blog...your pics are droolworthy.

  38. That is absolutely wrong. The kicker is...your water mark is right there...and they still claim their credit. Urgghh

  39. crap! that's horrible. the fact that another 10 more recipes popped up on the site. hope you manage to sort things out. it is just so frustrating but i hope you won't get discouraged because of it :) xx

  40. I totally sympathize, I just found some of my recipes (and photos!) on that site. With attribution, but still! Copying the whole recipe with a photo - even if attributed to the right person - without permission is content theft and is illegal. A few lines, ok, but the whole thing? Ugh, these people just make me so angry! I know I should spend my time blogging and not getting angry over thieves, but I can't help it, they really deflate me. Big hugs to you, you have a wonderful blog, and I hope you keep doing what you're doing for the benefit of the rest of us, despite content thieves!!!

  41. Wisdom Goddess Born,
    Thanks for your support. It's nice to know you appreciate my "snappy comments." :P

    I get pretty darn tired of having to monitor my content too. What's the alternative for us? To sit back and do nothing and let thieves run rampant? At least now when people Google Tastebook, they'll also find this post and think twice.

    Thank you. It's hard not to be discouraged when incidents like this happen again and again.

    Nah, I'll just Google bomb them and blacken their name.

    Thanks for the info. I'm gonna keep that in mind if it gets worse.

    Susan C,
    Unfortunately, people like that know no shame. :(

    Meal Planner,
    It's hard not to be discouraged when this happens so regularly.

    Tangled Noodle,
    That's awful. I wonder what kind of people get off on pretending someone else's work is theirs? They can't produce anything on their own?

    Ugh! Why can't people have common sense and know not to do this kind of stuff?

    Thanks so much for contacting them on my behalf.

    Grr! I can't either.

    Can't help it. 2009 was a drag in terms of finding stuff stolen left and right. :(

    Chef Kelly,
    That's why I finally just had to post. Got sick and tired of the blatant thievery.

    Yes, never use Tastebook!

    They only deleted the posts. That's it.

    Thank you. Had no idea you've been reading for so long. Yes, seems like 2009 was the year for content theft. :( It really discourages me from blogging when that happens.

    Unfortunately, content theft happens because it would cost too much for me to hire a lawyer than any possible damages I can. I'm small fry.

    Copyright and Attribution requirements are only useful if someone actually reads them. Or in my case, another blogger stole exactly what I wrote for my requirements, only swapping out his blog name for mine. Actually, I know of a big name blogger who stole a bigger name blogger's privacy policy because the person didn't catch one swap out. It's a shame, isn't it?

    You can't even spell my blog's name correctly, have a usage error, and a grammatical error all in the space of one paragraph. And you cut and paste the same paragraph to everyone's email. I think that clearly shows your lack of concern about this issue.

  42. Jeannie,
    I hide behind an internet identity. Kinda have to these days with all the crazies running around. But I don't steal!

    That's awful! Well, I'm glad this post made you check and see too.

    Jan Frederick,
    That's exactly what I mean. Once it leaves my domain, without credit, I lose ownership. I worked damn hard on my blog and I HATE when stuff like this happens.

    And thanks for such nice words. Mine isn't the only Vietnamese blog or recipe site out there, but it's nice to know I have such loyal readers.

    Hot Pink Manolo,
    Thanks! I could use all the indignation I can get.

    I do feel like Sysiphus when it comes to content theft but I'll keep pushing that rock uphill anyway. A third of your dinner menu? I had no idea you've been cooking that much from the blog. Thanks!

    Thank you for understanding that it's much more than just a photo and a recipe. I'm sure a lot of people skip over the anecdotes to get to what they want, but I wrote for those, like you, who do read and appreciate the recipe all the more with the story attached.

    Guilty Carnivore,
    Exactly! If Tastebook had a human editor to monitor submissions, such blatant theft wouldn't happen. That's the problem, right? If those users chose to print my recipes, then Tastebook literally is stealing from me. Grr!

    Ha! His response was cut and pasted too!

    Blogging mojo seriously takes a beating when I stumble upon stolen content every month! :(

    Exactly! Only another blogger really understands what it's like. :(

    Coffee Travails,
    Thieves can't keep me down! I just blog about it to keep THEM down!

    Big Boys Oven,
    I know!

    Screensaver. They can't argue with documentation.

    I know, right? They're paying for other bloggers' content, they should've paid for mine!

    Hear! Hear!

    Thanks. And yes, please let me know if you ever come across any of my content elsewhere online.

    Ravenous Couple,
    People are too lazy to make their own recipes or photograph their own food. It's easier to steal.


    My College Kitchen,
    I know! So obvious, right? But that's why I had to start watermarking in the first place.

    I hate having to keep checking just so I make sure my content isn't stolen again.

    Oh no! I'm so sorry it happened to you too. :( Please don't be discouraged either. Report them, get your stuff removed, and move on.


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