Friday, September 17, 2004

Right - Yours? Mine? Yours?

I'm having a bit of a problem with the whole copyright thing - conscience and all, little angel vs. little devil on my shoulder - and realize I should take a stand as Heidi has done. While I see that a lot of the fun about keeping up with the various food blogs around here is getting some new, actual recipes in ones book, to me it's just as much about being inspired and awe-struck about the imagination, talents or cookbook collection of others.

As it is, I'm the proud owner of a decent amount of books myself, some of them the regular, popular ones (Nigella, Jamie Oliver etc.) a couple of fancy ones (French Laundry for one - a book I absolutely ADORE by the way!) - and of course, a vast collection of Danish ones, none of them translated, I think... The thing is this: when a recipe is in a cookbook, and is copied into a blog, step by step - I guess that's not actually allowed to do, is it? Would it be enough to just write where it is from, copyright him/her?

And what do I do when I've tinkered with a recipe/several recipes to the point where you could hardly tell what was theirs and what was mine? A tart dough from that book, but with whole wheat flour instead of wheat, the filling from the recipe in the magazine I bought the other day..., the egg-mixture substituted with a bit of cream and creme fraiche, 'cause hey, I was out of eggs...

As well, I should think that posting a recipe or two from a particular book could probably make way for a sale of the book - I know that reading the before mentioned Heidi's blog, as well as others, has put an extra book or two on my amazon wish list, even all the way to the shopping basket! Is it all just really simple and am I the only one mixed up here? I've seen so many different takes on it around here, so I'd really like to hear your oppinion on this one... Ball's in your court!


OsloFoodie said...

If you see some newspapers or magazines, sometimes they put a whole recipe from a book and then referring to the author. This generates publicity and more sales. The problem with bloggers doing the same thing is, what if each of us take a different recipes from the same book and there are many of us with good intentions to pulicize but in the end almost exposing the entire contents of a book. And this can happen if there are writers that we all really like. So for me if I were to make a recipe from a book without changing anything, I'd say refer to this book and perhaps post a photo with the result.
But if I were to make so many changes, I do believe I can post the recipe and mention the original author.

However these authors do sometimes write about traditional recipes or recipes which are well known that they developed and so we incorporate that idea into our own recipes. I would still then put the recipes out by mentioning where the idea comes from because if the recipes are not so unique to the write only, I think everyone should have the right to make their own version and also be inspired by any small "tweaking" of the same recipe.

Zarah Maria said...

Sounds like a wise way to do it... Ah well, guess you just have to scour amazon for those books then! :-)

Santos said...

hello zarah maria

i agree with oslo foodie--if you copy something verbatim, the original source should be credited properly, and once a recipe is tinkered with, it's up to you to decide what credit goes where. whenever i do a recipe "by the book", i try to find the original source online, and just link to it.

what i find i enjoy the most are translations of recipes from books that are not printed in english. i know there are several non-food sites that publish english translations of books, the justification being that the chances of the books being published in english are slim to none. is there real harm in publishing a translation? i would think less so than copying a recipe that is in english already.

i have to say that while i've only been reading foodie blogs for several months, i have yet to come across a truly original recipe from a blog author. that is not to say that i've not found some incredible and imaginative recipes, but when someone says that it's never been done before, well, it probably has.

{m} said...

just my opinon-- giving credit is always the wise thing to do... I think even for adaptations, credit or inspiration source should be given... also I find it true that posted recipes can be a free/great resource, I also find reviews for cookbooks and which recipes to try as valuable...

Zarah Maria said...

I'm really glad people are taking an interest in this - it's not just the legal thing to me, it's also very much a matter of giving credit where credit is due! I'm not a mastercook and try to NOT have my nose stuck in the books all the time, but I do know that from time to time, when trying to master a new technique for instance, I'm pretty well following recipes to the letter. I actually found this - - the other day - it does make for interesting reading. Some of the links on this page tell you that you can (almost) never copyright an ingredient list - what you can copyright on the other hand is the individual way in which the instructions are written, that is, the text itself. That seems fair enough - I would feel kind of jiffed though, if I'd written a cookbook and all a copy-ist would have to do to not have to credit me was to change a word here and there!

Definetly rather credit one time too many... And yes, the great thing about blogs - and the internet for that matter - is of course that it broadens our horizons and lets us hear about weird food (or other things, seeing that there is other things in the world than food - correct me if I'm wrong ;-)) that we'd never hear about otherwise. Translated regional/local recipes makes for some of the most interesting reading! Whether it's harmful or not? Well, considering it might actually draw people's attention to something they might never learn of otherwise, I'd definetly not consider it harmful, but quite the contrary!

Anonymous said...

I always try to give credit where credit is due. If I've cooked a recipe exactly as specified, then I'll state that and give the source information. If I've adapted it (halving, substituting, changing technique etc) then I'll note that too. If the recipe is available elsewhere online, e.g. a publishers excerpt from the book, then I'll gladly link to that and just discuss the overall cooking process otherwise I'll reproduce the recipe, usually with abbreviated instructions.

I haven't had any problems with copyright thus far, and I've even had email from one author whose book I had awful problems with (it finally ended up in the bin) apologising and offering hints and tips for next time around. He wasn't bothered that I had posted a verbatim recipe; in fact he seemed quite pleased that I'd been trying so hard with the book and bemused that I'd had issues when I'd baked much harder things.

I know that various postings from Nigella's books have led a few die-hard readers to go and purchase them, so I think posting the occasional recipe from books (verbatim or adapted) does a superb job of lining authors pockets even further. I suspect that most authors are just delighted that people are actually cooking from their books and not just putting them on the shelves for show! (I remember Ainsley Harriot saying that when he cooked at other peoples houses he always used to find very posh conceptual cookbooks on the display shelves and then his cookbooks (splattered with ingredients) tucked in the back of a kitchen cupboard.)

Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar.

Anonymous said...

I think that posting individual recipes is fine (especially if the poster has modified the recipe while making it).

Between high cookbook prices and the tight economy, I will almost never buy a cookbook unless I've had a chance to read it or cook something from it. Since our local library systems can't afford to purchase all the new cookbooks that come out, sometimes the only chance I have to test a recipe from a book is when somebody posts it online.

Next book on my to-buy list is going to be one by Nigel Slater, specifically because I've cooked a couple of things from recipes of his online and have been very pleased with the results.

Besides, there's something very pleasing in holding the actual book in one's hands. Even if I had all the content of a cookbook available online, I'd be likely to buy the book anyway if I really like it. A computer screen isn't nearly as nice if you want to curl up in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and read recipes. :-)

When it comes to out-of-print (and unlikely to be reprinted) or not-available-in-translation books, I have a hard time finding reasons against posting the recipes, I must admit. If it were available for purchase, I would gladly buy it, but since it isn't (and isn't likely to become available) I don't feel like I'm unreasonably preventing the copyright holder from profiting from their work.

-- EmilyB
(no Blogger account)