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?
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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?
- 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:
- The original site/blog/blogger/url gets a credit link that goes to the original recipe.
- You have permission to use their photo (if you are using it)
- You send people to the original recipe site for directions.
- 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.
It’s perfectly fine to use and post an adapted recipe providing you acknowledge that adaptation is what has taken place.
- 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.
- Do NOT copy/paste the directions into your blog, even if you change a few words. Write them from scratch, in your own words.
- 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.
- If you do want to use the original recipe photo, I refer you back to the “Photos” section above.
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.
Simply copy/paste a link. Facebook will populate an image for you automatically.
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.
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?
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!