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A Question of Copyright


Carolyn Tillie
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I suggest contacting anyone that you suspect of lifting your images or material first, before discussing this in an accusatory way.

Photos, phrases, and entire blog posts are often copied elsewhere, and another blogger or publisher may have innocently sourced your photo or post from another site that did not include any copyright warnings.

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Photos, phrases, and entire blog posts are often copied elsewhere, and another blogger or publisher may have innocently sourced your photo or post from another site that did not include any copyright warnings.

Does the written word have to specifically have a copyright warning for the law to apply? I didn't think so. Intellectual property rights are independent of a "warning" surely? I understood that mostly the "warning" is to notify any would-be-plagiarist that the writer will be on the lookout and will act if plagiarism occurs. It is not "innocent" to knowingly steal someone else's words, even in the absence of a written warning.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Use of the word "steal" in this contaxt is misleading.

Theft is against the law. If my car is stolen, I call the cops and they (hopefully) recover it, arrest the thieves, try and incarcerate them, at no expense to me. :biggrin:

A copyright, (or patent/trademark etc), merely establishes my claim. I have the right to give notice that the property is "protected", but enforcement is up to me. :sad:

It's very complicated, and a very specialized area of legal practice.

SB (NOT an intellectual property lawyer, but has one on retainer) :wink:

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  • 2 years later...

since this is my first post on this website, i hope i am posting this in the right thread (which is a few years old)

Its about 'lifting' the content of other bloggers without permissioin; in this case the photos from other food blogs, by a 'celebrity' organic farmer and chef. Do a google on 'Al Rosas', or if you prefer a quick summary go to wikipedia and search for "Al Rosas", and check out the aggrieved parties in the links in References numbered 4 onwards. Check out the blogs in Refernces 4 and 5 for the very 'interesting' response from the Al Rosas to the initial 'complaint' by RasaMalaysia.

i usually only lurk at the websites i visit, and i do not have a public blog or website of my own. The only reason i am posting this is: i am one of those who get bothered by underdogs (in this case, relatively unknown bloggers) being bullied by so-called celebrities.

what do EG members think of the whole affair?

Joe

It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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The only reason i am posting this is:  i am one of those who get bothered by underdogs (in this case, relatively unknown bloggers) being bullied by so-called celebrities.

Things go both ways in that scenario. I quite often see recipes lifted from Chef's books posted on the "underdogs" blogs with a little "adapted from (whatever book by whatever chef)..." disclaimers. Very rarely are they "adapted from", they're usually blatantly copied or, at most, halved or doubled so the numbers are different. Is it possible each and every one of them contacted the person holding the copyright and obtained permission? Yes. It's also possible a million dollars is going to fall out of the sky and land on my doorstep tonight... but I'm not staying up all night waiting for it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Things go both ways in that scenario. I quite often see recipes lifted from Chef's books posted on the "underdogs" blogs with a little "adapted from (whatever book by whatever chef)..." disclaimers. Very rarely are they "adapted from", they're usually blatantly copied or, at most, halved or doubled so the numbers are different. Is it possible each and every one of them contacted the person holding the copyright and obtained permission? Yes. It's also possible a million dollars is going to fall out of the sky and land on my doorstep tonight... but I'm not staying up all night waiting for it.

It has been established that while one can copyright directions, one cannot copyright ingredients and amounts. Most of those "adpated from" recipes to which you're referring do have the directions re-written.

Regardless, at least those "adapted from" recipes have attributions, whereas the copied blog content does not. From the time one learns to write bibliographies, one learns that copied content without attributions is considered to be plagiarism.

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I realize "stealing" and "borrowing without permission" are two different things legally... but a tomato is a tomato no matter how you say it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The only reason i am posting this is:  i am one of those who get bothered by underdogs (in this case, relatively unknown bloggers) being bullied by so-called celebrities.

Things go both ways in that scenario. I quite often see recipes lifted from Chef's books posted on the "underdogs" blogs with a little "adapted from (whatever book by whatever chef)..." disclaimers. Very rarely are they "adapted from", they're usually blatantly copied or, at most, halved or doubled so the numbers are different. Is it possible each and every one of them contacted the person holding the copyright and obtained permission? Yes. It's also possible a million dollars is going to fall out of the sky and land on my doorstep tonight... but I'm not staying up all night waiting for it.

yes, i suppose things go both ways, BUT, does it therefore make it right for anyone and everyone to do so? And this is about lifting photos, NOT recipes, and there was no mention of 'adapted from' disclaimers, or any acknowledgement of the original content owners.

Have you read the email reply from Erin Rosa when RasaMalaysia first raised the photo lifting issue with them? (BTW, i am not in any way associated with, or know of RasaMalaysia, other than being a lurker of that food blog and many others, and EG is my favorite). If i am allowed to reprint that reply then see para below (if not the admins can delete as they see fit, obviously):

" FIrst (sic) of all your mediocre photo is all over the internet. You go ahead and seek further action, if you have time to do that you probably are still looking for work. Don't threaten me and I'd govern yourself accordingly when calling people names and making allegations or you might find yourself on the other end of a libel suit you petulant starving artist."

I assume (much as i hate to assume anything) that you are aware that La Rosas are a much celebrated winner of many industry awards as an organic farmer/chef, at least according to their website and several other websites?

Some of the questions that have been raised in the blogs of the aggrieved and their sympathisers are:

1. why would such a celebrated and successful organic farmer/chef steep so low as to lifting photos without permission? The La Rosas surely must have known that what they did was unethical to say the least?

2. If the organic farmer/chef are unethical, than, perhaps they are also cutting corners in their organic farming 'practices'?

3. If the lifted photos are mediocre, why would La Rosas lift them?

4. why would such a celebrated farmer/chef spend time to surf the intennet for photos from other websites to use (wihout permission) in their website?

5. etc

have a nice day

It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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  • 11 months later...

interesting discussion

I have been using tynt (www.tynt.com)to see what is being copied from my site (yikes! is all I have

to say to that). It is difficult to keep track of where my pictures and articles are going and I don't have

the time to chase them down. If I see my material with a link back to my site I don't usually mind (although I know

bloggers who do, even if it might send them large amounts of traffic). Only in cases where I am not attributed will

I write a polite email and this usually works.

On my part, I try to do the same -giving credit where it deserves , perhaps I missed some (I don't have an editor)

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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  • 7 months later...

Copyright is indeed fraught with misunderstanding and general ignorance. IANAL, but for what it's worth here's what I have understood from doing my own research as a photographer. I believe I found most of this information on wikipedia, and there was some from a copyright lawyer who was kind enough to put some stuff up on his website (don't remember who, unfortunately)

Copyright applies to any idea when it first takes tangible form. For these purposes, tangible refers to any form outside of simple thought. Putting it down on paper, playing it on a musical instrument, telling someone else about it, etc: tangible doesn't need to mean a physical, enduring medium. A copyright notice is not necessary except to establish the year of first publish, and the author of the work. For almost all purposes, insofar as the published material is an original creation, all use of that material requires permission from the author.

The big exception, and the one that few people understand, is fair use. This is the area where a lawyer is most needed, but again, here's what I understand. Fair use is actually quite restrictive. What's most relevant to us is being able to use material to further discussion on a topic. In the arts this usually takes the form of parody (hence Andy Warhol, Weird Al Yankovic, etc) but in any case the material must make a significant contribution to the discussion. jsager01's citation would fit this, where what I've read here suggests La Rosa's use does not have such validity. In any case citation is required.

A professor of mine had a rather simple policy: if it was a commercial entity, she sent them an invoice for the use of her image. Otherwise, she sent a polite note stating that the picture was hers, and to please remove it or apply attribution (I don't remember which).

With regards to Pim's article, as many have said the case is hardly cut-and-dried. The standards for academic writing are very similar to the eG ethical code: you assert that anything not cited is either common knowledge or your own work/thinking. I would suspect that it's somewhat the same for professional journalism. Hindsight, which is always 20/20, suggests that when Virbila finished writing the article, she should have tried to reconstruct what she might have heard before hand, probably in a manner like this: "How did I make the decision to check this place out? Was it a recommendation from a friend, intriguing signage, a blog I read?" Following the trail back and investigating those sources will reveal what was probably copied, what was original work, and what were opinions that the two coincidentally shared. One tricky thing is that it's not always possible to make that back-trace. Isaac Asimov wrote a very interesting article on the subject; I think it's found in "Gold". Essentially, people read and see plenty on a daily basis, and sometimes an idea first encountered seems fairly innocuous: we think "that's interesting", promptly forget it and move on. But it stays in the subconscious, surfacing when it's most appropriate. Sometimes, especially with a formula like "the little <x> that could" that has become so much a part of the general lexicon, it really is a case of coincidence. The more things that correspond, and the more unique those things, the less likely that is, and that's the basis on which I would judge a case of plagiarism. Of course, if one is conscious of the source they have a legal, as well as ethical obligation to disclose it.

And now that I've written all this I notice the OP was asking about other cases of such, but since the discussion had since gone to include the vagaries of copyright law I'll leave this anyway for anyone that might be interested. It isn't thread necromancy until it reaches the second page, right? :raz:

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Copyright applies to any idea when it first takes tangible form. For these purposes, tangible refers to any form outside of simple thought.

Just to clarify, the copyright protects the "tangible form," not the idea(s). Ideas are not copyrightable. E.g., I can take your recipe, list the same ingredients, rewrite your instructions, and stay on the right side of the law. (Whether that's ethical without attribution is another question.)

As you mentioned, a copyright notice is not necessary. Copyright attaches as soon as you fix your idea(s) in a tangible form. However, a copyright notice reminds people that the work is owned and should not be copied without permission.

Common phrases are not copyrightable (the Pim controversy falls into this area, IMO). Further, if there are only a few common-sense ways to say something, those common phrases or sentences--boilerplate if you will--are not copyrightable. That's only a rule of thumb. The courts decide on a case by case basis what is or is not protected by copyright here.

As you mentioned, the fair use exception allows copying some material for the purpose of furthering a discussion. The courts have limited the fair use exception to that material strictly necessary for the discussion (they apply other factors in determining fair use, also; I won't get into it). To stay on the safe side, copy or quote only the minimum necessary to make your point, and of course give your source.

When I've had discussions with people about copyright protection and the web, I always end by saying this: There's the law, and there's reality. Don't put anything on the web unless you accept that it may be copied and used without your permission. People aren't necessarily malicious, but they can be ignorant or careless about copyrighted material.

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Bear in mind, there is a big gulf between "infringement" and "remedies".

Let's say you think your copyright has been infringed. What exactly can you do about it?The frank reality, in many cases, is: Not Much.

Most blog posts are commercially worthless: you couldn't sell them for very much, even if you wanted to. So if someone copies your blog post without permission, what are your provable damages? Probably less than what the first meeting with a lawyer will cost you.

Of course, many honorable people will take down the offending content, if asked. Some might agree voluntarily to pay. If not, there is not much you can realistically do about it.

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Frankly, if I put something up on my blog, anyone is welcome to it. If I want to keep something private, I won't release it to the world at large.

I have had copyright problems in the past with people stealing my artwork and profiting from it. Fortunately, I had copyrighted everything and had kept tight records of all of it.

Also, some of my work simply was not easily copied and as most was specific to certain subjects and I was known in those groups, people were always quick to let me know when something was going on. I sued a couple of times and one museum, who had one of my paintings, and prints of it were being sold on the internet, sued the perp on my behalf.

Since I no longer make a living from my artwork, I don't care as much as long as it isn't a big company or a foreign company making money from my art. If an individual uses it for a one-off needlework piece, they aren't going to hear from me.

"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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