Something ugly is happening on Facebook, and as a food blogger, I am not only disturbed, I am alarmed.
People are starting Facebook pages that copy photos and recipes from food blogs and repost them on their pages, either without attribution or improper attribution. Some even go as far as to claim the photos and recipes are theirs. And some are actually threatening the food bloggers who contact them.
Image: © Jens Buettner/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Typically, these page administrators create recipe collectives and post photos (even watermarked ones!) and complete recipes without permission. This is a copyright violation and violates Facebook’s Terms of Service.
If this wasn’t bad enough, administrators of these Facebook pages encourage followers to “share” the recipe, which engages Facebook’s Edge Rank and throws their pages to the top of the pile. This sharing gets them thousands of “Likes” in just days. Some pages already have tens of thousands of followers after only a few days.
Some of these page administrators truly don’t understand that they are doing anything wrong. They, like millions of Internet users, wrongly assume that if it is on the Internet, it is free to use.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The minute an author, photographer or artist creates a work and hits publish, that work is automatically copyrighted. Many will go one step further and register their work, which makes legal prosecution easier, but it is not necessary. All photos are automatically copyrighted, not just the ones that are watermarked.
Food bloggers are finding out about these Facebook recipe collectives and taking exception to their work being stolen. They start by asking the page administrators to please link properly. Most bloggers don’t mind if the photo is linked to the recipe on their site. What they do object to is when the photo is scraped and the recipe is copied.
As we know, food bloggers work extremely hard on their blogs. It can take days to create and photograph a recipe, not to mention the cost of maintaining a blog. Some bloggers (me included) depend on readers coming to their blogs to create ad revenue. These Facebook pages encourage just the opposite. Why would you go to the blog when the whole recipe is right there on the page?
We all know that blogs are illegally copied. But now, food bloggers have been called called trolls, uglies, venomous, money-grubbers, jealous, and so many other vulgar names I can’t repeat them here. Fans of the pages are ignorant of proper and ethical sharing, and they have written hundreds of comments vilifying food bloggers. The fans believe that any content published is free for the taking, and the page administrators are doing nothing wrong. Because the page administrator often deletes any comments that explain copyright or ask for proper linking, the fans see only one side of the story.
Some page owners are posting food bloggers’ personal information and the food bloggers are receiving threats. Many of the food bloggers who have complained have to monitor their blogs and pages as they come under attack. Some page administrators actually call for followers to go cause problems for these “terrible” bloggers who “just have evil in their hearts.”
These pages have hundreds of thousands of “Likes.” This isn’t a small problem.
Food bloggers who are fed up with the violation of their work have bonded together on Google+ to fight this problem. Some report the abusive pages to Facebook and have a little success. Unfortunately many are afraid to confront the violators because they become the
target of abuse by page owners and the fans.
Food bloggers are working hard to have their work respected. The pages, however, are popping up faster than we can keep track. So if you’re a food blogger and you’re concerned, how do you find out if your food blog content is lifted? What can you do?
- Upload an image into Google image search and see if people are repurposing it
- Install the newest version of Facebook and search on the word “recipe” to find recipe communities
- Read What to Do When Your Content Is Lifted (Food Blog Alliance)
- Read Sharing Recipes on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ and What Every Facebook User Needs to Know (More on this issue, with screenshots).
If you do find your recipes out there, first assume the person has no knowledge that what they did was wrong. Kindly ask them to link properly. If that doesn’t work, then report the post. Whatever you do, don’t stoop to the level of the people who are causing vicious smear campaigns by writing hateful emails or comments in return. The goal is to enlighten, not to enrage.”
This post originally appeared as a guest post on Will Write for Food. Susan Powers is a professional blogger and food photographer living in the San Francisco Area. You can find her at www.Rawmazing.com and www.ShootingtheKitchen.com.
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