How To Share Another Blogger’s Recipes Correctly

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How To Share Another Blogger's Recipes Correctly
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Let’s face it. There are so many AMAZING recipes and food photos out there, it’s tough as a beginning blogger to understand why you can’t share a lot of the stuff on the web. I mean, it’s so easy to copy/paste this fantastic content into your own blog!

But the truth is, the people who create these recipes work very hard to do so. And if you build your blog (and any potential income) off of another person’s hard work, trust me, word gets around fast and not in a good way. So if you’re going to start a food blog where you sometimes share recipes that are not your original creations, great! But do it the right way. Here’s How To Share Another Blogger’s Recipes Correctly.

SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Think back to when you were in school and had to do a book report. Chances are, you knew very well that your teacher and school would not tolerate plagiarism and that you had to cite your work and give credit where credit was due.

Pretend the web is a book and your blog is the book report. If you simply copy the book, word for word (and maybe take a photo or two as well), you’ve done nothing more than plagiarize, even if all you were trying to do was share a wonderful recipe. In this case, intent doesn’t mean much, and you are likely to get into trouble.

HOW TO SHARE
First of all, realize that publishing a blog with quality content is a lot of work. If all you want to do is copy/paste recipes onto a web site, there’s really no reason for you to be blogging. After all, blogs are platforms for people who have something unique to say. Regurgitating somebody’s content won’t get you very far. But bloggers do love to occasionally share each others recipes as a means of promoting each others work. How do you do that effectively?

PHOTOS

  1. Check the copyright notice on the site where you are taking the recipe from. Do they allow you to use their photos? Most bloggers are fine with it so long as their watermark remains in the photo and credit is given where it’s due. BUT, not all bloggers feel that way. It is completely within their rights to deny use of their photos by anyone for any reason. So yes, you will have to spend some time either searching their site for a copyright notice, or actually send them an email asking to be allowed to use their photo in order to share their recipe. And never, never use somebody’s photo to depict a recipe other than the recipe indicated in the photo.
  2. Never, never download a photo to your computer, alter it and then upload it again. Unless the blogger gave you permission, this breaks copyright law and can get you into big trouble. Especially if you remove a watermark.

RECIPE
This is where people get very touchy about things on both sides of the argument, but copyright law is pretty clear.

Then there is an unwritten “Blogger Law” that you will learn to appreciate and follow pretty quickly if you want your career to flourish. Like many industries, who you know and who respects your work has a lot to do with how far you will go as a blogger. Simply put, if you have integrity in everything you do, you’ll do pretty well. If you don’t, let’s just say “the cold shoulder” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Bloggers stick together and are very protective of not only their own work, but the work of their fellow bloggers. To put it simply, if you steal, we will tell on you. A lot. On many platforms and social media accounts.

  1. Copyright law: A list of ingredients cannot be under copyright.
    Blogger “law”: If you want to call the recipe your own, you must change more than just a measurement or a single ingredient. That sort of change is adaptation, not creation. Either way, you should give credit to the original source. Some say you should change at least three ingredients to call a recipe your own. But the truth is, you show a lot of integrity if you still give a credit link to the url of your inspiration. Call it “Link Love” or “Credit Karma“. What goes around, comes around in the blogging world. What you give is what you get back, and that will generally never change. And how hard is it to share a link anyway?
  2. Copyright law: If directions are written in a manner that has “substantial literary expression“, it falls under copyright. That also means, if the directions simply say, “blend until smooth”, there really isn’t much a blogger can do to claim copyright on that recipe. It is not “substantial literary expression”.
    Blogger “law”: Simply put, no matter how simple the directions are, if you copy/paste somebody’s recipe word-for-word into your own blog, you’ve probably instantly pissed off the blogger who you took the recipe from. The blogging world is small. Word travels fast. And really, how hard is it to put a link under a list of ingredients that says, “get the directions here” (this links to the original recipe not on your site). So basically, make sure the original blogger gets the traffic they deserve for the work they have done, even if they didn’t write a novel under the “directions” heading.

So what does this all boil down to?
All you have to do to share a recipe properly is to make sure that:

  1. The original site/blog/blogger/url gets a credit link that goes to the original recipe.
  2. You have permission to use their photo (if you are using it)
  3. You send people to the original recipe site for directions.
  4. While it’s okay to share the list of ingredients, it’s considered polite to simply share the photo with a link to the recipe. You can introduce the recipe in your own words and then just send people to the original site/recipe.

RECIPE ADAPTATION
It’s perfectly fine to use and post an adapted recipe providing you acknowledge that adaptation is what has taken place.

  1. If you do change a recipe, even slightly, call it adaptation and give proper credit to the original source. Too many beginning bloggers change the amount of salt used in a recipe (for example) and then try to call the recipe their own. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…. call it adaptation and give credit where it’s due… with a link.
  2. Do NOT copy/paste the directions into your blog, even if you change a few words. Write them from scratch, in your own words.
  3. Feel free to take your own pictures of your adaptation for your blog. Once you change a recipe, the original photo isn’t really accurate anymore anyway.
  4. If you do want to use the original recipe photo, I refer you back to the “Photos” section above.

SOCIAL MEDIA
I can’t count the number of Facebook groups out there where I have found my recipes stolen and published in full, only to then also see those posts shared thousands of times. Can you imagine how much traffic my site loses because of this? That’s money out of my pocket. Money used to keep my blog running and put food in my child’s mouth. I work too hard for that.

If you want to share a recipe online, there is only ONE proper way to do it. SHARE THE LINK. Not to your site, but to the original blogger’s site and to the original recipe. If their copyright page says it’s okay, then you can post their photo along with that link. But under no circumstances should you ever share a recipe in full on social media. This is incredibly damaging, not to mention demoralizing. We work so hard to give our readers recipes (often for free), and all we ask in return is that people get our recipes from our web sites. Not social media. This can literally kill off a blog if it happens often enough, not to mention, it breaks the copyright rules of all social media sites to do so.

  • FACEBOOK
    Simply copy/paste a link. Facebook will populate an image for you automatically.
  • PINTEREST
    Pin from the original site only, using the site’s pin button to ensure the correct link gets attributed to the photo. And please do NOT copy/paste any part of the recipe into the pin’s description area. This happens so often and its so frustrating to see.
  • TWITTER
    Write a short blurb in your own words and share a link only.
  • ALL OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
    Just share a link. How hard can it be to make sure a hard working blogger gets credit and traffic for their work?

LASTLY
Please remember that if you want to grow a blog for any reason at all, it’s important to use your own words and recipes, not somebody else’s. Your readers will come to your blog again and again because they want to read what YOU have to say. If they want to read another blogger’s words or recipes, they will go to that blogger’s site. Not yours. So be original! That’s what blogging is all about!

And just because I know at some point somebody will be upset by this article and try to argue that there really are no “original” recipes out there, please keep in mind that the integrity you bring to your blog will make you or break you. There is a whole world out there beyond your own blog. And while there may only be so many ways you can make lemon bars, that doesn’t mean that a hard working blogger didn’t take an entire day to figure out their own recipe without adapting somebody else’s. And in fact, that’s what most authentic bloggers do. Even if their recipe does turn out to resemble another recipe, if they can honestly say it’s their own work they created themselves, you should respect that. If for no other reason than you get to use a really good recipe that’s been tried and tested, for free!

So there you have it. It’s really pretty basic! Just do right by others and they will do right by you. Simple!

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32 Comments

  1. This is super helpful! I want to start sharing other amazing bloggers recipes (and credit them for them) that I found and made and was wondering about the ‘rules’ around it. This is some great information!
    Has anything changed over last couple of years?
    Thanks again!

    1. Ags – No, nothing has changed. You just never want to republish somebody else’s work. That will always be the case.

  2. can l just confirm what l would like to do. I am the owner of a Greengrocer and l like to give people lots of ideas through social media and our website. I basically try and test, and sometimes alter a bit to suit me.

    what l would like to do is have a heading Debbie’s recommendations.I’ll introduce the recipe with my experience of cooking it (i will only write about things l like not recipes that don’t work for me). Then l would like to put a link to the original source of the recipe. Do l still need to use my own photo. No problems if l do. just checking.

    Do l have to go back to the author every time and ask for permission to post if it’s only a link?

    1. Debbie – As long as you are not copy/pasting any part of the blogger’s post or recipe into your own post, then a simple link is always welcome. As for photos, most bloggers have a copyright policy on their blog that will tell you if they allow the use of their photos or not. Otherwise, yes, you should ask each time. But you don’t have to ask to provide a link to their blog. That’s highly encouraged.

  3. Thank you for this! I want to do a post highlighting some of my favourite bloggers/recipes but wanted to be respectful while doing it, this was exactly what I needed to clear up my questions!

  4. Thank you so much for this article! I am new to blogging and would hate to do anything wrong! Alot of times I will make a recipe and show pictures of step by step instructions, as long as I give credit ,link, to the original blog will that be ok? I just want my blog to make cooking easier for those who follow pictures better.

    1. Toni – I would first check to be sure that the original recipe doesn’t have step by step photos. If you aren’t sharing the content or recipe of another blogger, just talking about a recipe and showing steps with your own photos, you should be fine.

  5. Hi there!
    I am having trouble figuring out the technicalities of this. I am new to blogging and I would like to include a recipe on my blog. If I use all my own photos, write the directions in my own words, and credit the original source with links (very blatantly), am I in the clear? Or am I not allowed to include directions at all? Thanks!

    1. Lexi – To be blunt, LEGALLY, you can get away with that. Ethically, it’s NOT a nice thing to do to another blogger, even with links, unless you significantly change the recipe. And if you do several from the same blogger, they may still have a legal case if you do it often enough with their recipes.

  6. I like to make other people’s recipes (w/proper credit given) and post my pictures. Can you make a blog off of that or do you have to create your own recipes?

    1. Bella – As long as you send people to the original website to get the recipe and recipe notes, it should be fine. I’m not sure what the draw for people would be to read your blog, but if you can put a good spin on it, it might work. Just don’t offer ANY of the written information in the original blogger’s post. No recipe, notes, or head notes. Only because if you build an entire blog on other people’s work, you don’t want to be seen as steeling it. Particularly for ethical reasons.

  7. Hi!
    I am new to blogging and this article answered some of my concerns but just to get a clear answer here’s my question. My blog will feature my own recipes but I will also like to post recipes I try from other bloggers and food sites. Can I post my own picture with a description of what I made with a link to the original blogger/recipe site for recipe info and directions? Thanks.

  8. My blog uses recipes from cookbooks that I make and take photos of. In the past, I would take a pic of the cookbook and include all the info. Now, after taking a long hiatus, I see it recommended to include a link maybe to amazon? How should I go about this? This would be for recipes exactly as printed, not adapted or inspired.

    1. LJ – I’m not a copyright attorney. So make of this information what you will.

      If you are using cookbook recipes, you should be contacting the publisher to republish the recipe. If you don’t have their permission, it is copyright infringement, the same as if you took something out of any other type of book.

      That being said, if you have their permission, then yes. The best thing to do is take your own photos. You want to “own” as much of your blog as possible. So using your own photos is wise. 101cookbooks did this for a while. I’m not sure if she still does.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “include a link”. I would assume it’s a credit link to the author or the publisher. I would need to know what you are reading to tell you.

  9. Hi ,

    I have posted a recipe on my Instagram page, the photographs are mine , I have halved the original recipe and written everything in my own words .. the recipe method is not in the same words at all. This is all in the pictures, not in the description.
    In the description I have spoken about how good the recipe is and I have added the Instagram link of the person whose recipe it is . I have written – recipe credit : ( Instagram handle of the original recipe creator )
    Now this person is asking me to take down the pictures and is saying that it’s her intellectual property and I am violating copyright laws .
    I don’t think that I am . Pls advise . Thanks .

  10. Starting off sounding bad but I’d like to copy and paste ingredients and directions with links back to the original blog. Pictures used would be creative content on Google. If I strip all the “my experience with this dish” and just post the ingredients and directions like:

    Found on [link] here’s how to make (x)

    Is that still restricted even with blatant citation?

    1. Ray – You will always run the risk of infringing on copyrights when you do this. Mostly because of the recipe directions. But there are so many caveats to this that it would be best to talk to a copyright attorney about that.

  11. I am curious if it is LEGAL if I buy a recipe (either through the purchase of a book or subscription somewhere) to share that recipe on a Facebook thread. No money is being made from sharing, I am not getting ‘hits’ on a blog. It is as if I am showing a movie I purchased to some friends I invite over to my house. Im not asking about etiquette, I’m asking about legality.

    1. Carla – I’m not a lawyer. I think you would probably want to talk to one about that. I would imagine it all highly depends on the agreement when you purchase the recipe. If you are purchasing the rights, then it should technically be yours. But again, it all depends on what you agree to when you buy it. Definitely contact an attorney.

  12. Great article, thank you !

    What if you are taking recipes from a book and there is no link. Is it protocol just to credit the recipe to the author and the book you got the recipe from? I am compiling some recipes for my weight loss coachees and would hate to enfringe any copyright rules. I had also planned to do a food/recipe blog on my website so again is it ok as long as you credit the original source.

    1. Janice – You would need to ask permission for each recipe. Get it in writing. To the best of my knowledge (I’m not a copyright attorney – this is just from my own personal research), recipes in cookbooks are under copyright as a “collection”. In other words, the book is under copyright, so the recipes will be too.

  13. I’m a non-profit page and would like to share this recipe by sharing the link, tagging the author and using their images, all with credit. I do not have direct permission to do so though. Am I allowed to or would that be something I could get in trouble for?

    1. Gabstar – I’m not a copyright attorney. So for specifics, please contact one. However, if there is no copyright page on their website, you’ll do well to contact the site owner/blogger. Most bloggers are fine with you using ONE image, and offering a link to your readers, so long as you don’t copy any of their content to paste on your own site. But again, I would reach out to the blogger or site owner to make sure.

  14. Hi, I was wondering what rules would apply if you link the original recipe but post the recipe halved or quartered. I want to start a blogg about recipes for 1 or 2 people. So I’ll be doing math and testing the smaller recipes.

    Thanks.

    1. Amy – I wouldn’t do that. But what you CAN do is to alter the recipe. Change at least 3 ingredients and then write the instructions in your own words. But still give an “adapted from” credit link to the original blogger.

  15. Is halving or quartering a recipe considered a new recipe? And how would I post that? I’d like to share my steps on how I did it.

    1. Amy – No. It’s not a new recipe if that’s the only change you are making. The best way to handle this is to give your readers a link to the original recipe, and then simply talk about the steps you took in your own words. That way the original blogger gets traffic and credit, and you can still share your methods at length.