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Dan Lepard Recipes Removed from Forum Thermomix


andiesenji
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Something interesting, for Thermomix folks, is a bit of action on Forum Thermomix that is rather perplexing.

Dan Lepard's publisher notified Forum Thermomix that all recipes attributed to Dan Lepard were to be immediately removed.

Link here.

As I understand copyright law as it pertains to recipes, a list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted - however the directions or method and any photos are of course protected by copyright.

What is odd in this instance is that all of the recipes that had been placed in Forum Thermomix topics had all been converted for the TM31 so the part of the recipe that did fall under copyright protection had been altered completely from the original.

Nevertheless the person was adamant that no part of the recipe could be on the forum.

Frankly, I would have never heard of Dan Lepard, had these recipes not been on the forum. This certainly does not make me anxious to buy any of his books, I had planned to buy one but this attitude has convinced me to find an alternate and I am not alone in this opinion.

Thermomix fans are eager to buy books that have easily converted recipes and posting a few recipes seems to me to be good publicity.

Other cookbook authors certainly understand this and don't rant about blog and forum postings that "steal" proprietary content.

Being an artist, and having had some of my works lifted for COMMERCIAL purposes, I am sensitive about copyright protection, but if an individual uses one of my designs for something for personal use or to donate for fund raising, I have no objections.

I know a lot of Peter Reinhart's bread formulas have shown up on various online sites and have prompted people to buy his books. I've never heard of him complaining.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The recipe rule is certainly true of US copyright law... European laws vary somewhat on the "moral rights" of authors to exercise control over their works... if "Forum Thermomix" is as French as it sounds, the law they might chose to apply may not be US copyright law.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Interesting. I had actually wondered over the past few months if some of his recipes had disappeared from his own website which was recently overhauled when his new book was released. Either way, I can't imagine this is good publicity or will positively influence his book sales.

Edited by gap (log)
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The recipe rule is certainly true of US copyright law... European laws vary somewhat on the "moral rights" of authors to exercise control over their works... if "Forum Thermomix" is as French as it sounds, the law they might chose to apply may not be US copyright law.

Probably not French, if you look at the language :laugh:

The European equivalents to US copyright law are somewhat different, that is true, but the moral rights basically mean that if you create work X, you cannot reassign your moral right to be called the creator of X. You can give away the rights to all profits of work X.

However, at least in German language countries' Urheberrecht there exists a concept of Schöpfungshöhe, which means the level of originality/creativity that a work attains. Not all artwork or texts are afforded the protection of the Urheberrecht. Mere technical descriptions are not protected. Unlike what is claimed in the Forum Thermomix post, this would include not only the list of ingredients, but also the "method" of cooking. What can be protected is the concrete expression of a recipe in the words of an author (if it attains Schöpfungshöhe).

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer etc.

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I noticed a link referring to this issue on Dan Lepard's Facebook site.

http://chefeye.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/publishing-of-copyrighted-recipes/

As a prospective cookbook purchaser, I do like to see a couple of recipes and hear how others found them. But I know if I was a fiction writer I'd be incensed if bloggers essentially made my book a giveaway by posting their favourite chapters. If many of his recipes are being posted without permission it is like all the content is being given away and it makes sense for him to attempt to gain some control.

Dan's website is full of hints and tips, and he publishes many recipes on The Guardian, which are freely available. In posts here about his books a number of people have commented about how helpful he is. I think that counts for a lot.

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As a prospective cookbook purchaser, I do like to see a couple of recipes and hear how others found them. But I know if I was a fiction writer I'd be incensed if bloggers essentially made my book a giveaway by posting their favourite chapters.

Well, if the book is just a collection of recipes without any interesting writing, I would not be interested in it. If, on the other hand, there is some stuff besides ingredient lists and preparation steps, posting rephrased recipes is not making the book a "giveaway".

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But I know if I was a fiction writer I'd be incensed if bloggers essentially made my book a giveaway by posting their favourite chapters. If many of his recipes are being posted without permission it is like all the content is being given away and it makes sense for him to attempt to gain some control.

Dan's website is full of hints and tips, and he publishes many recipes on The Guardian, which are freely available. In posts here about his books a number of people have commented about how helpful he is. I think that counts for a lot.

There is absolutely no question that any writing produced by a fiction or non-fiction writer falls under copyright protection - just as my original paintings and drawings do - these are the product of that person's efforts.

A list of ingredients does not fall under copyright protection because these are things that are in common use, public domain.

The directions or methods, which are authored by the writer, are under copyright so direct copying is not permitted.

However, if one changes the directions, in this case to instruct in how to prepare the recipe in a Thermomix, the altered recipe is considered an entirely new document.

Dan Lepard is not the one who started this, it is this guy David Whitehouse, the publisher, who may be doing this on his own. So far, no one has heard from Dan Lepard what he thinks of the reaction this is getting.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Something else to consider, now that Lepard's publisher is involved in using Lepard's name as a trademark for recipes and cookbooks, is the fact that the recipes as described were not, in fact, authored by Dan Lepard, but were using his name as a badge of quality/authenticity without any direct input by him. While the use is not commercial itself, there is an arguable commercial harm possible if the recipes attributed to him don't work right, or produce results of which he doesn't approve. I could see wanting to make such attributions stop, and without the nexus of commercial activity, using trademarks to do it would be difficult... so the overbroad and overpowered copyright claims would be the next tool in the drawer to use to get that result, and the burden of proof required to demand a website take down alleged infringement is minimal.

PS: my apologies to Thermomix's German heritage and provenance... the phrase "Forum Thermomix" just sounds quite French to me...

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Dan Lepard is not the one who started this, it is this guy David Whitehouse, the publisher, who may be doing this on his own. So far, no one has heard from Dan Lepard what he thinks of the reaction this is getting.

Link to David Whitehouse's Blog

from post #17 on the Thermomix Forum thread.

It's easy to see both sides, but David Whitehouse isn't quite the ogre he's being made out to be.

Here's an example of what he wants people to do, and according to the header on his request on this blog, he's Dan Lepards business manager.

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I understand what the business manager *wants* people to do, but I prefer to exercise my rights as an American: lists of ingredients aren't copyright protected. If I want to share a list of ingredients with my own instructional text, I will always say "adapted from" and give the original source (usually with a page number), and will also provide an Amazon (or Google books or other purchasing link). But to think that no one can ever use a fixed ratio of ingredients ever again simply because ONE person in the world published it in a book, forever making someone's sole intellectual property? The U.S. laws are clear on this one. A recipe is NOT a play, a book chapter, or a song sample.

I think the Reinhart example cited upthread is a great one. He's figured out that internet recipe postings aren't hurting his book sales, they're increasing his reputation as a teacher & author. So many (most?) of his Bread Baker's Apprentice recipes are posted online, yet it still ranks as #1,304 in Amazon's total book sales (not just food books, but ALL books). The thing will sell for years and years, thanks not only to its quality, but to the widespread references to the material.

So the Lepard/business manager's action is a hostile, counterproductive practice, IMHO. Look at this thread's content: it's not good press, where we're discussing the quality of his work & his ability to influence breadmaking. Instead, we're discussing his business manager's attempts to curtail the circulation of his material. This sort of activity makes me laugh: do authors not realize that (gasp) *public libraries* circulate their material for free?! To thousands of people? For years? And they don't pay any more for the books than an ordinary user? LOL. (And some of those people are even using those recipes in commercial kitchens, and Dan Lepard's business manager can't do a damn thing about it.)

If people are using your book and sharing information about it with others, it's GOOD for sales. If they're liking it enough to use it repeatedly and it inspires them to share it, it's GOOD for sales. If bloggers are chatting up your backlist, it's GOOD for sales. (ETA spelling fixes)

Edited by HungryC (log)
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This is a very interesting situation for both Lepard/Whitehouse and the bloggers and forum users concerned.

The description on Amazon for Lepard's book, 'The Handmade Loaf' says that it, 'contains more than 80 contemporary European bread recipes'. Not having seen the book, I can't comment but are these recipes all truly invented by Dan Lepard and have never been seen in any way shape or form before? Or are they adaptations of observations he has made during travels around Europe? If so, how different is this to what the users of the Thermomix Forum are doing whereby they are using some or all of the same ingredients and completely rewriting the methods to suit the machine? One big difference is that Dan is making money from his adaptation and the thermomix crowd are not.

I can fully understand full transcriptions of recipes with no references or links to the original author constituting plagiarism however (i.e. passing off someone else's work as your own).

My local copyright laws (I'm not a lawyer) seem to indicate that lists of ingredients are not protected and to some extent even methods especially for generic products (i.e. a generic white bread roll). However word for word transcription of methods may be protected and the description (blurb) at the beginning is fully protected as this is what gives the recipe context to the author. In some cases, the recipe title can be protected and even trademarked (I notice that Momofuku's Crack Pie has a TM on its menu).

Admittedly, I cannot speak with legal authority on this issue but wonder if Whitehouse is out of his depth. Looking into this a bit further has revealed there are also some potential legal repercussions for people who spuriously claim copyright infringement.

The funny thing about this is that until now, I had never heard of Dan Lepard. Now, I only know of him because of his business manager hassling bloggers and for all intents purposes claiming global copyright infringement. One would also have to wonder in the world of social media whether this will affect Lepard's personal brand? It seems quite a few people have now heard of him but possibly for reasons unintended. The internet has repeatedly demonstrated that these things will be very difficult to stop 'once the horse has bolted'.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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ISTM that David Whitehouse, though not an ogre, is arguing for an overly aggressive interpretation of copyright. Doubtless he is right that copyright protects an author from cutting-and-pasting an entire recipe. He acknowledges, though, as he must, that American copyright law doesn't cover formulas, i.e., the ingredients list. Where Whitehouse goes sideways, IMHO, is in asserting that a rewrite of a recipe infringes copyright unless it uses a different method. No, that would be a patent issue. No one reasonably claims recipes can be patented. Copyright protects the expression, i.e., the words, not the idea. A recipe rewritten in new words does not infringe copyright, though one can quibble over whether the new words are "new" enough. Further, even if Whitehouse's standard were correct, andiesenji says the Thermomix recipes have been converted to a different process. If so, Whitehouse is asserting in this case a protection in copyright that neither he nor Lepard can possibly possess.

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