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eGullet Code of Ethics verus Cocktail Recipes


EvergreenDan
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I was all set to sign the code of eGullet code of ethics when I thought about this clause:

Original content. All content is the original creation of the author except when clearly attributed, such as by quotation marks, citations and credits.

But ... but ... but a recipe's list of ingredients is not subject to copyright and, even after some research, may be of unknown attribution. For example, if I discuss a classic cocktail, I may have no idea who's idea it originally was. If I want to discuss a Manhattan (and maybe my variation on it), do I have to spend 10 minutes figuring out a source for the Manhattan's recipe?

Or maybe I read about a cocktail posted somewhere -- forum, blog, importer's website, whatever. I have no reason to suspect that the author of that writing had anything to do with the creation of the cocktail.

Now clearly if I read about, say, a novel cocktail from betacocktails.com I would reference it with ease.

Alternatively, I may have a cocktail in my recipe database for which I can't recall the origin. I now want to discuss that. Ironically, that discussion may lead to a discovery of the original source. This happened recently (Paper Plane, maybe?).

Should the code be relaxed as it relates to recipe ingredient lists?

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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DYB - Do Your Best (as the cub scouts would say)

As long as it is clear you are not claiming you invented the Old Fashioned or whatever, and attributing the originator when known, I would personally think you are acting ethically.

But I can't say if there is some anal-retentive code writer who would disagree...

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Original content. All content is the original creation of the author except when clearly attributed, such as by quotation marks, citations and credits.

But ... but ... but a recipe's list of ingredients is not subject to copyright and, even after some research, may be of unknown attribution.

Of course I don't think it's talking about copyright at all here in the eG ethics code: there are many things that are legal, but still unacceptable to various codes of ethics (and as prasantrin points out, there are many). This clause seems pretty clear to me: if the recipe isn't yours, make that clear. It doesn't say you have to track down the original source, or anything like that. It is effectively an anti-plagiarism clause: if the recipe is not yours, it should be clear from its context in your post, "such as by quotation marks, citations and credits." I doubt in context anyone would believe you were claiming any classic cocktail as your own creation. And in the case of a non-classic, the code requires you to make it clear you didn't invent it, but rather found it someplace else. The code does not seem to say, at least to my reading, that that "someplace else" has to be the original source: if you know the original source that's great, but as long as it's clear that you are not claiming it as your "original material," then at least to my reading, you are fine.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Well, this made me look up "attribution", and from answers.com, I got definition 1 as:

The act of attributing, especially the act of establishing a particular person as the creator of a work of art

This would seem to imply that attributing the recipe requires discovering the creator and giving him/her credit.

Alternatively, the code could say that you pledge to not claim or imply that you are the creator of work which isn't yours it would have the same effect but allow discourse on recipes of unattributed origin.

Of course I can not sign it. Or I can sign it but interpret it as I think is intended (even if not written). But isn't it better to require something reasonable, pledge to abide but it, and then do what you pledge?

I am not a blog writer; I'm a cocktail database developer. My users (and I) may enter cocktails without knowing their origin, and something may not even recall a source. By leaving the creator and source reference fields blank, I think I'm implying that I'm not claiming it as my own. But I have not attributed it either.

Kindred Cocktails | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

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Is there some problem with stating that you don't know their origin? We see it all the time in other works:

"A brilliant and witty quote." -- author unknown

Reading the code to require anything beyond that reasonable effort seems to me to be overly legalistic: it's a code of ethics you agree to abide by, not a legal contract. The whole point of stating that you follow such-and-such code is to tell your readers what they can expect from you. Obviously, if you think this code requires you to track down original sources for every recipe under the sun, it's not the code for you. But to my reading the clause is about making it clear what you wrote and what you didn't, not about tracking down the final authoritative source for every quote.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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