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Tess   
Do you think that in the last 20+ years the dynamics of plagiarism have changed? That theory makes sense on a lot of levels to me, at least with regard to literature and scholarship. But in 1982, I'm guessing most plagiarists knew they were doing something wrong. In today's cut-and-paste culture, it really seems as if a lot of people do not have that understanding.

You're probably right, but ultimately I don't think we should care whether people have the understanding. It's still wrong.

Oh, absolutely.

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docsconz   
It has become quite a tribunal hasn't it?

As much as I don't agree with exactly what has transpired in the form of copying the dishes, I am sorry for these people that this has happened to them - because they are being made an example of only because they were caught - even though this kind of thing is common - to whatever extent.

What I would like to see from the other chefs in question is a black and white declaration in this forum, that they are obviously monitoring, that in their current work or in any of the work that has brought them to where they are - they have never plagiarized, never used something they knew to exist previously without crediting the proper source and never passed off something they knew to be a product of the work of another as their own - to whatever extent - to whatever degree.

Because in my opinion - if you cannot be measured by your own stick - then any debate on the subject as it pertains to you is worthless and the items that started this entire thread are moot in that context.

I don't have any expectation that that is going to happen - and will be extremely happy to see it if it does.

Your answer will speak volumes, your lack of answer will speak volumes, as would the removal of this post.

And let Karma treat you (and me) accordingly.

You raise an interesting point, Nathan, but I think you really are comparing apples and oranges. If any of the chefs or non-chefs such as myself have blatantly copied someone else's work without any substantive changes or alterations and attempted to pass it off as his or her work i.e. "creation" that would be extremely hypocritical. Where there is a very wide spectrum, however, is the role of learning and influence. Techniques can be taken but used in such away that the resultant product is different than the one the technique was originally designed for or techniques can be applied to different or novel ingredients. That is a very different situation than what is being discussed here, yet that is the kind of situation I feel that you keep trying to press. The situation I described is the essence of creativity - stretching and changing bounderies. Taking someone else's words or artistic expression and recreating them verbatim may show excellent technical skill in the form of a culinary or artistic product, but little in the way of creativity, unless the actual production of the product was completely different or in the case of a culinary product it looked exactly the same as another creation but tasted completely different. In the latter case, it would indeed be a new product and not a plagiarized copy.

The point I was trying to make with Jamie was that attributed copies of say 17 disparate styles at one seating, while not necessarily creative, would demonstrate a level of technical skill and beinteresting solely on that basis if for no other reason. Nor do I think that it would be ethically flawed.


Edited by docsconz (log)

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You set up quite the straw man Sizzleteeth... and both comment and lack thereof can knock it down...

While I am not a chef, I can say this. Throughout my academic career at a liberal arts college, having written hundreds of pages, and in all of my writing since then, I have never knowingly plagiarized anyone else nor intentionally omitted a citation in order to pass off someone elses work as my own.

That you find it so hard to believe that someone else can go through life without doing so speaks volumes to your own actions (as you admitted earlier)... and enlightens us, perhaps, as to why reaon #4 cited by Fat Guy is de rigor in these situations.

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You set up quite the straw man Sizzleteeth... and both comment and lack thereof can knock it down...

While I am not a chef, I can say this.  Throughout my academic career at a liberal arts college, having written hundreds of pages, and in all of my writing since then, I have never knowingly plagiarized anyone else nor intentionally omitted a citation in order to pass off someone elses work as my own.

That you find it so hard to believe that someone else can go through life without doing so speaks volumes to your own actions (as you admitted earlier)... and enlightens us, perhaps, as to why reaon #4 cited by Fat Guy is de rigor in these situations.

Hey brother...

If this place is to be executioner, judge and jury, me included, then the very least we can get is a hand on the Bible to swear to tell the truth.

With that I digress - before I become the hunted.

If it's not already too late. :wink:

No I haven't lived my life free from fault or wrong doing and yes, it surprises me if anyone has.

Something which I'll happily admit to - and hope never to repeat.

Goodnight.


Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

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cdh   

Fascinating thread... but now I feel the urge to throw another legal wrench into the moral mechanics that are being put together here.

We appear to be forming a consensus that when a dish is duplicated from the repertoire of another, that credit should be given to the originator. One example above is the Arpege egg.

Arpege, however, is a trademark of Alain Passard (or his employers if he does not fully own the restaurant.) L'Arpege could easily stop anybody from selling counterfeit Arpege eggs. Lots of other restaurants could do the same for their eponymous dishes. They might even have incentive to do so if the copies are (in their eyes) inferior in quality to the originals. And they have a strong argument... the value of their brand is diminished in the eyes of their market by others putting out pale shadows of the original greatness, yet still attaching the original name.

We appear to be approaching a system that effectively gives the creator of a dish a right to veto another's choice to replicate it by using a combination of two principles.

1. You're a scumbag if you don't attribute your sources, and

2. If you attribute your shoddy work to the originator, they can stop you from doing so in order to protect their brand image in the market.

Complicated, no? I'd love to hear reactions to this musing.

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docsconz   
Fascinating thread...  but now I feel the urge to throw another legal wrench into the moral mechanics that are being put together here. 

We appear to be forming a consensus that when a dish is duplicated from the repertoire of another, that credit should be given to the originator.  One example above is the Arpege egg.

Arpege, however, is a trademark of Alain Passard (or his employers if he does not fully own the restaurant.)  L'Arpege could easily stop anybody from selling counterfeit Arpege eggs.  Lots of other restaurants could do the same for their eponymous dishes.  They might even have incentive to do so if the copies are (in their eyes) inferior in quality to the originals.  And they have a strong argument... the value of their brand is diminished in the eyes of their market by others putting out pale shadows of the original greatness, yet still attaching the original name.

We appear to be approaching a system that effectively gives the creator of a dish a right to veto another's choice to replicate it by using a combination of two principles.

1. You're a scumbag if you don't attribute your sources, and

2. If you attribute your shoddy work to the originator, they can stop you from doing so in order to protect their brand image in the market.

Complicated, no?  I'd love to hear reactions to this musing.

I would think if it was being sold as the Arpege egg it could be a problem, but if it was sold as so-and-so's version of the Arpege egg it would less likely be so. If I try to emulate someone but fall short it is not the fault of the person I tried to emulate. Ferran Adria should not be held in any less regard for someone else's poor rendition of a "foam".

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cdh   

Just try marketing your Dark Caffeinated Fizzy Beverage In The Style of Coca-Cola and see how long it takes for the cease & desist nastygrams to start arriving. Same principle at work with Arpege eggs... particularly with regard to world famous brands like Arpege (and Coke), which have even higher levels of trademark protection than ordinary marks.

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Tess   
I would think if it was being sold as the Arpege egg it could be a problem, but if it was sold as so-and-so's version of the Arpege egg it would less likely be so. If I try to emulate someone but fall short it is not the fault of the person I tried to emulate. Ferran Adria should not be held in any less regard for someone else's poor rendition of a "foam".

I think he shouldn't, but he might be. I can see diners who are not that well informed (or even some who are) dismissing a dish after having a worse version of it, especially if the quality of the ingredients isn't there or something similar.

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Fat Guy   

I think the better analogy is to music. It's okay to say a song is inspired by the Rolling Stones, even though the band's name is a trademark.

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646522   
It has become quite a tribunal hasn't it?

As much as I don't agree with exactly what has transpired in the form of copying the dishes, I am sorry for these people that this has happened to them - because they are being made an example of only because they were caught - even though this kind of thing is common - to whatever extent.

What I would like to see from the other chefs in question is a black and white declaration in this forum, that they are obviously monitoring, that in their current work or in any of the work that has brought them to where they are - they have never plagiarized, never used something they knew to exist previously without crediting the proper source and never passed off something they knew to be a product of the work of another as their own - to whatever extent - to whatever degree.

Because in my opinion - if you cannot be measured by your own stick - then any debate on the subject as it pertains to you is worthless and the items that started this entire thread are moot in that context.

I don't have any expectation that that is going to happen - and will be extremely happy to see it if it does.

Your answer will speak volumes, your lack of answer will speak volumes, as would the removal of this post.

And let Karma treat you (and me) accordingly.

Sizzleteeth,

With all due respect it seems you have little idea of the evolution of a chef. We spend the early part of our careers studying what has already been done. It's called a foundation/the basics or whatever words you wish to use. Then at some point we make a choice; to simply continue what has already been done before, or to try and develop one's own style. Regardless of which path we choose there will necessarily be a type of plaigarism. We are all guilty of standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us. It is impossible for us not to. Even if you choose to develop your own style, all that it can really amount to is taking the sum of your existing experiences/ training and try to make it your own; twist it, spin it, evolve it somehow leaving your own fingerprint on the timeline of cooking. Inevitably there will be elements/aspects of a dish that will be traceble to previous training, but it is our hope to personlize it, to somehow make a contribution to what we have learned. Somehow take cooking a little farther down the road than where it was when we came across it.

It is with that in mind, we must consider what has transpired here. Someone has, for quite some time been taking credit or even worse, been given awards for food which he hasn't been forthright about. It is exact replica after exact replica of food from at no less than 4 restaurants in the U.S. But without any acknowledgement. This is an unacceptable type of plaigarism, one that we cannot condone. It is not the way any of us go about creating our menus.

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jamiemaw   
I think the better analogy is to music. It's okay to say a song is inspired by the Rolling Stones, even though the band's name is a trademark.

Drawing together the theme of this thread, Steven's Stones analogy, and John's concept for a Tribute Restaurant means it could only be named one thing.


Edited by jamiemaw (log)

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Pan   
I think the better analogy is to music. It's okay to say a song is inspired by the Rolling Stones, even though the band's name is a trademark.

Of course it is!

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Sizzleteeth,

With all due respect it seems you have little idea of the evolution of a chef.  Regardless of which path we choose there will necessarily be a type of plaigarism. We are all guilty of standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us. It is impossible for us not to. Even if you choose to develop your own style, all that it can really amount to is taking the sum of your existing experiences/ training and try to make it your own; twist it, spin it, evolve it somehow leaving your own fingerprint on the timeline of cooking. Inevitably there will be elements/aspects of a dish that will be traceble to previous training, but it is our hope to personlize it, to somehow make a contribution to what we have learned.

Wylie - I'll make one more post here to say that on this we agree.

Though I would say a readily identifiable style is at the same level as a specific dish - in my mind.

I do understand, to some degree anyway, the evolution of a chef and my challenge to answer these questions was purposely loaded - as in answering them - any chef would have to concede to copying - really - any person would have to concede to copying - somewhere, at some point.

Some to greater degree than others.

I understand and appreciate the distinction here in ways I can never fully convey to you and I'm not condoning it - nor am I really defending it - I simply feel this person made a mistake - maybe a huge one - but one that does not deserve this type of retribution. And retribution is what I feel it is.

I could say "it's just food" - "nobody ripped off the Mona Lisa here", but then I suppose you could say that about anything and it would open every door in existence to this type of thing.

So carry on.

I do though, appreciate your answer and it does seem to me to be an honest one.

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Fascinating topic, this. I'm not going to weigh in heavily on the ethics question, though surely something like "Alinea's pickled lark's tongues in Madeira aspic" or "sautee of hen's teeth and pigs' combs inspired by WD-50" serves to create interest on a menu, and is at least no more irritating to the diner than the 12 or so pairs of inverted commas gracing any given French Laundry menu. It certainly can't hurt.

I would, though, like to share two observations I've made in leading Melbourne restaurants in the last couple of years. One is the menu at Pearl, which has seen some desserts prefixed with "Stephanie's", presumably to reflect the dishes' origins either with chef Stephanie Alexander or in the time Pearl chef Geoff Lindsay spent working at her eponymous restaurant.

The other is the degustation menu at Fenix, which you can see here -

http://www.fenix.com.au/rest/rest.html

- which offers a detailed description of an amuse gueule which will seem very familiar to anyone who has dined at The Fat Duck. I've had the nitro green tea custard thing at both restaurants, and I have to say that I was very surprised not to see anything by way of a reference to The Fat Duck or Heston Blumenthal on the Fenix menu. (I should mention, too, that I've also been served liquorice-poached salmon in both restaurants, again with no suggestion of the dish's provenance on the Fenix menu. For all the casual diner knows, it may well have been something Fenix's chefs came up with when they were at The Fat Duck.)

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Interesting to note, too, that the full Interlude degustation is dubbed "The Tour". Maybe they could just mention the whistlestops of each course.

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jamiemaw   

I'm rather fond of what George Lang had to say on the subject: 'There should be a special phrase for getting credit for something you didn't do and at the same time attributing your ideas to someone else.'

Mind you, he is a deeply truffled man.

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Pan   
[...]I understand and appreciate the distinction here in ways I can never fully convey to you and I'm not condoning it - nor am I really defending it - I simply feel this person made a mistake - maybe a huge one - but one that does not deserve this type of retribution. And retribution is what I feel it is.[...]

All he is facing is opprobrium. I feel that's warranted, because it takes a lot of chutzpah to not only copy other chefs' dishes without attribution but post photos of those dishes on your website. To get back to my question earlier in this thread, I don't think that not posting the photos would make this kind of culinary plagiarism alright, but I do think that posting the photos made it worse. And many of us who are taking strong exception to his actions are not personally injured in any way, so it's hardly fair to generalize this as "retribution." Anyway, you know what they say: If you can't stand the heat...

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Fat Guy   

To me the most challenging open technical question with respect to attribution in cuisine has to do with the appropriate form and scope of the attribution.

When we're dealing with words, it's easy: we have footnotes, endnotes, inline citations, acknowledgments and various other devices. Usually a writer works within the rules set forth by a journal or other publisher.

When dining, however, the written word is peripheral. Plenty of times the specific dishes in a degustation aren't even written down. Much of the communication in restaurants occurs through the waitstaff, and it's not exactly easy to control what servers say -- not to mention sometimes you don't want to hear it. I could certainly understand being served the occasional copycat dish without explanation -- the logistics of culinary attribution in the dining room dictate that even a chef who makes a good-faith effort to attribute is going to fail sometimes.

Now, when you get into published recipes, interviews, etc., it becomes a lot simpler. You have the written and spoken word available to you. Still, specificity of attribution is an open question. For example, is it sufficient to say in a several prominent interviews "We serve a lot of dishes that are inspired by El Bulli" or is it necessary to say that about every dish every time? Certainly, once you do the former you're no longer a plagiarist. I imagine if all chefs simply spoke forthrightly about their influences when asked, there wouldn't be a need for much more.

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I'm looking at my copy now. (Gourmet Traveller November 2005)

Can't see anything specific in reference to recipe ownership but the article is purely in reference to their Best New Talent Award Winner and his unique approach.... and highlights 6 recipes.....

There are some very interesting comments with major relevance to this thread though.

I'm by no means a copyright expert and I'm sure it won't be long before Gourmet Traveller pick this up and comment either here or in print.

So when it comes to their magazine, let's leave it to them.

I'll advise if I see anything relevant in print from down here.

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I'm looking at my copy now. (Gourmet Traveller November 2005)

Can't see anything specific in reference to recipe ownership but the article is purely in reference to their Best New Talent Award Winner and his unique approach.... and highlights 6 recipes.....

There are some very interesting comments with major relevance to this thread though.

I'm by no means a copyright expert and I'm sure it won't be long before Gourmet Traveller pick this up and comment either here or in print.

So when it comes to their magazine, let's leave it to them.

I'll advise if I see anything relevant in print from down here.

Fair enough Chef's Office, I'm with you. A quick page through the story matches your take from the article... you're right, it's their magazine, it's his issue, I wasn't stolen from, and in the end has little to do with me. If I go to his restaurant, and don't enjoy it, then I'll chime in again.

And in the interest of complete clarity and fairness, i'll confirm that nowhere in the article are the recipes ascribed, explicitly, as "his." They weren't at all, either from his mouth or the journalist's.

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In an earlier post, I did point out that Robin's `Perfect Scrambled Eggs with beetroot foam' featured in the November issue is almost identical to a dish featured on the Juniper Restaurant's Website (Juniper is a one michelin star restaurant in the U.K).

I noticed this in Decemember and although it annoyed me greatly, I decided not to mention it on egullet as I thought, `hopefully karma will sort this out ...

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Fat Guy   

I agree, Sean. It was necessary, I think, to document and discuss the specific instance in order to establish a basis for a larger conversation about the important issues at play here. It seems we're now well into the general phase of the conversation and can leave the specifics behind so long as they remain settled. I certainly plan to focus on the big picture. No need for gratuitous and repetitive bashing.

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We have two threads going on the board right now that mention:

a hamburger on a krispy kreme donut for a bun

fois gras on a halved donut hole for a bun

In the 'greater context', is this

simultaneous discovery

acceptable levels of influence

copycat-ism ("is almost identical to a dish" EQ above)

or

other?

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