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Old 11-19-2006, 06:36 AM   #1
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This copyright thing

I am aware of the rules of this board and certainly try to abide by them and am reminded pleasantly by the administrators when I don't. BUT I just don't get it at all.
On EVERY other board I visit on the internet recipes are posted and attributed if they are copied, as from Ina Garten's cookbook. In fact, I was reading Ina's recipe on a board, got mixed up where I was (thinking I was here) and said, "Hey, how come SHE can do that and I can't" and then came to my sense of place.

I "get" the part of the oft quoted copyright law that extensive "personal remarks from the chef" (for example) cannot be included in a quote. Although, I am pretty sure you could say "Edna Lewis says that this is how her family in Virginia made this stock for generations". Reading the same section of that oft quoted copyright law also always seems to say to me that it is OK to quote the rest of the recipe--but that seems to just be my reading of it.

So, and not to be contentious, please just explain to me one more time why this is the case here and not everywhere else. I am just wondering. I understand the huge fine threat. And if it is just the way it is chosen to interpret all this here, then that, of course, is OK also. But, there are some pretty high powered boards that don't seem to have a problem with a cut and paste.

I am also of the opinion, shared often by others on various venues, that there are really NO original recipes--just everyone's different "takes" on ingredients. ;o) Have a great holiday season.

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Old 11-19-2006, 08:43 AM   #2
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The best way I can answer your question is with a story.

When I was a young boy there was a period where all the kids were shoplifting candy bars from a local drugstore. Every single kid was doing it. Kids would say "everyone is doing it and the store is not stopping us so they must not care and it must be OK". WRONG.

Just because other boards are breaking the law and getting away with it does not mean it is right. It also does not mean that we will do it here.

What you do not see Gretchen, is all the boards that have been shut down because of this. You don't see it because those boards are gone now.

DC and the person who post the recipe could be held responsible for fines of a quarter of a million dollars. Now of course the chances of that happening as admittedly small, but do you really want to take that chance? DC does not.
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Old 11-19-2006, 09:50 AM   #3
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Thank you GB. So clear. And as I look through the board and see recipes posted I wonder how those happen.
So, if I post a recipe and don't attribute it it is okay? Just so it isn't in a cut and paste that is identifiable? I have just been browsing the wonderful savory cheesecake thread.
I'm fine with your rules.
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Old 11-19-2006, 10:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gretchen
So, if I post a recipe and don't attribute it it is okay? Just so it isn't in a cut and paste that is identifiable?
No not really. It is not the attribution that is the problem. The basic rules are that the ingredient list can not be copyrighted. It is the method that is the issue. The method needs to be worded substantially different from the original. The problem is what is substantial? Well that is up to a judge and jury (literally). That is why a link is the best and safest way to post a recipe that is copyrighted. Posting a link does not break any copyright laws.
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:34 AM   #5
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Hello GB,
Can I add to Gretchen's query? I've posted a couple of recipes where no link is available on the Web. I've noted the original source cookery book and author and have mentioned my variations in the ingredients and my method, usually a simplified version of the original. Is this acceptable?
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:39 AM   #6
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What happens if you get a recipe from a friend.. and had no idea it was copyrighted? I get tons or recipes from friends.. I don't know where they got them tho.. oh oh
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:44 AM   #7
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Well it would depend on what exactly you wrote Snoop Puss. For instance, if you posted the recipe word for word, but then said you did not use the almonds, but substituted walnuts instead then that would not be OK.

If you reworded the entire method though then that would be fine. The key is to reword it enough. It is not good enough to just change enough words here and there. It needs to be very different from the original.

Here are some examples:

Original: Combine flour and water. Put in 350 oven. Bake until golden brown.

If you were to change that to: mix water and flour. Bake at 350 until browned, that would not be changed enough.

If you changed it to: In a large mixing bowl add flour and water and stir to combine. Preheat over to 350 and then bake the mixure in a baking dish until golden brown.
That would probably be OK. The reason I say probably is because the only way to know if it is changes enough is to have a judge and jury decide. It would have to go to court before you knew for sure if it was changed enough. That is why a link (if available) is always preferable. Of course that is not always possible so if posting the recipe you really need to do your best to change the wording as much as possible. Part of the job of the staff here is to make a judgment call as to whether or not we feel the site and poster is safe or not when it comes to this.
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Old 11-19-2006, 12:24 PM   #8
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Thanks GB. I'll bear that in mind.
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Old 11-19-2006, 12:25 PM   #9
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Thanks Snoop.

It is a very difficult issue because it is not cut and dry at all. It is very much up to interpretation. All we ask is that members do the best they can and if we see something that we feel may need to be changed then we will let you know
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Old 11-19-2006, 12:30 PM   #10
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I've just had a look back at the recipes I've posted and they are significantly different in wording, which is a relief. Thanks for the advice though.
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Old 11-19-2006, 12:39 PM   #11
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Anytime
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:15 PM   #12
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Boy, GB is the copyright expert!
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDog
Boy, GB is the copyright expert!
I'm not sure exactly how to take that but yes, we need to know about copyright law/issues here. This is a discussion that happens quite a bit. Each time it's the same answer. Andy R doesn't want to get fined and I'm sure neither does the poster. It might be rare as of right now that this happens but when the laws are more precise we will be ready.
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Old 11-20-2006, 08:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDog
Boy, GB is the copyright expert!
a year ago I knew nothing of this topic. The admins and moderators spent many many hours researching and discussing this stuff. We talked about so many different situations and how they apply to DC. I am hardly an expert though. I have a very basic and elementary understanding, but hopefully the understanding that I and the other staff members have is enough to protect the site and our members.
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Old 11-20-2006, 11:08 AM   #15
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If you want to check out a "high powered" food site that takes copyright even more seriously than we do, check out eGullet. Lots of cookbook authors are eGullet Society members, so they have a pretty evolved way of addressing intellectual property issues.

I also see all the outright violations of copyright law on other boards and have to wonder. A member's post of a copyrighted recipe without permission but with attribution becomes a "knowing" violation of copyright law for both the board and the member because attributing the author is an admission that it is someone else's intellectual property. A "knowing" copyright violation is considered more serious and is subject to a $250,000 fine.

Besides the fine and lawsuit, boards can and have been shut down for allowing members to post copyrighted recipes. Ina Garten herself had one of her fan boards shut down temporarily because so many of her her copyrighted recipes were posted.

Taken from a previous post of mine:

Recipes themselves are indeed copyrightable -- the US Copyright Office says so:

"Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by 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."

Lists of ingredients cannot be copyrighted, thus changing any number of the ingredients doesn't help you avoid copyright violations involving the part of the recipe that is protected.


Likewise, attribution also does not absolve you of liability should you distribute a copyrighted work without permission. In fact, it's the opposite -- it's an admission that the work is not your own.

There are exceptions to copyright laws involving "fair use," like reprinting a copyrighted recipe for teaching, for critique, to ask a question, etc.
This is where it's appropriate (and professional courtesy) to attribute the source.


Posting a copyrighted recipe on a site like DC (or other sites for that matter)for the purpose of distributing it to the members would, in all likelyhood, not be considered fair use. But that would be up to a court, and that's not where we want to end up.

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Old 11-20-2006, 12:28 PM   #16
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A list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. Instructions taken and reposted verbatim from a published cookbook without proper attribution are copyrighted. This includes any "chatty little comments" added by the author. But if you re-write the instructions, copyright laws do not apply.

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Old 11-20-2006, 12:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FraidKnot
A list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. Instructions taken and reposted verbatim from a published cookbook without proper attribution are copyrighted. This includes any "chatty little comments" added by the author. But if you re-write the instructions, copyright laws do not apply.

Fraidy (copyrighted author)
It has been well established that ingredients cannot be copyrighted - over and over and over again. Even in this thread.

This gets so confusing - and therein is where "attribution" falls in. EVEN with attribution you cannot copy someone else's work and post it verbatim. Don't confuse attribution in our instances here with academia. We were taught in high school that as long as we gave proper attribution it was not considered plagiarism - this is a different animal.

The more the word "attribution" is used the more confusing it gets. If you CHANGE a recipe but wish to say WHO or WHERE you got the original recipe from that is at least ethical and the proper thing to do. If you post the original recipe stating WHO or WHERE you got it from that is ADMITTING to a copyright violation.
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Old 11-20-2006, 01:05 PM   #18
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Correct, KElf.

Reprinting a copyrighted work without permission is a violation, even with attribution, unless it comes under the "fair use" or other exception to copyright law.

Attribution comes into play when you are reprinting an article under the "fair use" exception - like if you are teaching from it, or criticizing it, etc. Also, most licensing agreements between an author and a distributor include an attribution clause.

For example, I have written a number of articles that have been copyrighted. One appeared in a magazine called "Farm and Power Equipment Dealer".... please don't ask.

The magazine got permission to publish it from me. It ran with my name on it.

But I own the rights to it. If someone else, for some bizarre reason, published it, posted it on a website, made copies of it, etc. without my permission, that would be copyright violation. Even if they said it was mine.

If they took my idea and expressed that idea in their own words, that would be ok. You can't copyright ideas. If they quoted from it, in part, that would be ok, too. But they can't take the whole work and do anything with it without my permission -- because it's my property.
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Old 11-20-2006, 02:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchenelf
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDog
Boy, GB is the copyright expert!
I'm not sure exactly how to take that but yes, we need to know about copyright law/issues here. This is a discussion that happens quite a bit. Each time it's the same answer. Andy R doesn't want to get fined and I'm sure neither does the poster. It might be rare as of right now that this happens but when the laws are more precise we will be ready.
Take it as it is written. No disrespect intended at all. IMHO, GB really knows this stuff. To me, I just can't quite get my arms around it to fully understand it. Perhaps the suggestion of "expert" is a bit over the top, but the point was he (and the other staff here) really know their stuff, and I applaud them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
a year ago I knew nothing of this topic. The admins and moderators spent many many hours researching and discussing this stuff. We talked about so many different situations and how they apply to DC. I am hardly an expert though. I have a very basic and elementary understanding, but hopefully the understanding that I and the other staff members have is enough to protect the site and our members.
Is it really that much more complicated? Wow. I still struggle to understand the basics, let alone what may lie beneath the surface of copyright law.
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Old 11-20-2006, 03:02 PM   #20
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What complicates the issue is that everyone seems to have their own opinion of what should be acceptable and argues against expert opinions.

We (admins and mods) have had significant discussion on the subject and done extensive research and received professional legal advice. All that combined went into developing a policy that is effective and in line with the law.

If any member sees a recipe posted that they know to be from a copyrighted source, they should report the post to site administration.
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