Re-posted from a blog post dated 03/18/12
For the past several years I was a participant on a fairly large recipe board. I posted my reviews and photos of the food I prepared. I was happy to do so and felt safe in doing it but I no longer participate.
In November 2011 I was made aware that some of my photos had been lifted and posted on a food bloggers site as her own. Not only was she scalping photos and using PhotoShop to remove watermarks from photos, she was claiming all the photos and recipes as her own. She had grandiose stories of how the recipes “came to be”. How she visited friends and family and cooked for them in their homes or how she entertained constantly and prepared wonderful meals for her guests.
She had quite the following. Several hundred people followed her blog as well as her Facebook page. She was a contributing and sometimes featured member on some of the largest food blog promotion sites out there and was paid compensation for her contributions and through advertising. She even had three small cookbooks listed on Amazon. No telling how much money she made from those. Problem is, she was a fake. A phony. Never lifted a spoon in her life much less sautéed a vegetable.
I was one of her victims. Along with many other of my fellow foodie friends. But we didn’t know it until one day Chef Dennis approached our community and even though he hadn’t been a participating member in the past, he joined our site and posted about it in our Community Forum. He, along with a few of his foodie friends, started recognizing her photos from various sources across the web. Had it not been for them, I never would have known that my photo’s were contributing to someone elses glory and financial gain.
Once the word was out we rallied and went in to action. We shut her down all across the web. She was everywhere. Like a plague. Guest posting on any foodie blog that would take her and “her” recipes. When her Facebook page was shut down she claimed she had been hacked and that all her recipes and photos had been deleted by the hacker(s). When confronted directly she denied all wrong doing, and in some cases actually blamed the original creator of the recipe or photo as the thief. She was pathetic. Several people filed formal Copyright Infringement suits against her. Let’s just say I’d hate to be in her shoes right now.
Being a victim of Copyright Infringement is the one and only reason why I have a Copyright section on the main page of my blog. And the reason why I take step-by-step photos of the food I prepare. To help prove I actually cook what I post on this blog.
It’s very time-consuming to go through all the motions of photographing everything in a step-by-step manner. A simple recipe that would normally take thirty minutes can take up to an hour or more to prepare. I rely on DOZENS of photos. As a total amateur I hope for that one good shot of diced celery or that one good shot of something in the skillet. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. I also don’t have PhotoShop. I rely on a simple editing program that came with my camera (I think…I’m not a computer person and it’s just *there* so I use it.) And then it’s all about the finished product. Cooking everything early in the day while I have good lighting and taking a few more dozen photos, from all different angles. And poor Mr. Foodie, who half the time eats things cold because I’m trying to get “The Right Shot”. Thankfully he’s supportive and easy-going and doesn’t mind re-heating things in the microwave if need be.
So I whole-heartedly take The Pledge. I try VERY hard to link back to any and all original sources of the recipes I post about on this blog when they aren’t my own. And if I’m ever called to the carpet for an infraction I will either alter, correct or delete that post immediately.
I will conduct myself ethically in all aspects of my blog and my interaction with other bloggers. I will give credit where credit is due when I use someone else’s recipe or idea, and I will not use anyone else’s images without their expressed written permission. I will be aware of my surrounding when I visit blogs and other food related sites; and if I see content that I know belongs to others, I will make every effort to make them aware of the misuse immediately. If I see a new or uniformed blogger making unethical mistakes, I will offer my guidance and support to help them understand what they did wrong. If my help is unwanted and they do not respond in a positive manner, I will turn over the case to the Neighborhood Watch for further action. When notifying offending bloggers or sites, I will always be polite, friendly and act professionally. I will not respond negatively to anything they may say or do, and I will report any problems that I feel are unresolved to the neighborhood watch as soon as possible.