Copy Right Copy Wrong

1copyright-persian-food-blog-IP-intellectual-property-rights-balance-protection

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (on Persian food and Norooz and spring and all that is blossoming and sprouting and delicious) to bring you this spontaneous rant about the travails of creating content — tenderly with joy and care — and releasing it into this cyberspace of ours.   Here it goes.

I don’t watermark content for aesthetic reasons and I do not put up neon signs all over this blog announcing that “all the work here is created by Me Myself and Moi and protected by copyright law” because it is not my cup of tea. But the fact is that the photos and illustrations and all these little words strung together with various degrees of coherence and grammatical soundness are done by the hands of truly, yours.  Not magically sprung into existence.  I don’t expect to be showered in gold and Japanese quince blossoms in return (although I will gladly succumb to both) but I do harbor delicate hopes that the copyright ownership of the work is respected.  Partially to keep that illusion, I refuse to Google search my copy and images (as I know some bloggers vigilantly do to find people who lift their works.)  I would rather not know as I’d rather spend the time I would use up kvetching over every such instance on either writing a line, or drawing one, or doing one.  (Just.  Kidding!  I do not do any lines except for laundry and I don’t smoke anything except for fish.)

4copyright-persian-food-blog-IP-intellectual-property-rights-balance-protection

But back to our story, I happened by sheer happenstance to find out that an entity, a commercial entity, was using one of my images on one of their social media channels.  It wasn’t a major use but it wasn’t entirely minor either.  It is somewhat flattering that they liked my work.  It is mucho less flattering that they felt it was permissible to co-opt said work without so much as a God bless.  I went back and forth on this but ultimately realized that I was bothered.  I was surprised by how much I was bothered.  The bother was aggravated by the realization that they were using yet another image of mine in a perhaps not illegal but certainly irritatingly usurping way to get traffic to their social media page.

While trying to nurture the possibility of a future working relationship with them (us freelancers have to always hustle, don’t you know!) I asked that they either pay for this usage or remove the image.  After some time I received word that “out of respect” they had removed the image.  It suspiciously sounded like they were doing me a favor.  I want to understand where they are coming from but to be clear:  I am supposed to be grateful for their favor of ceasing to infringe my copyright protected work.  A work that I literally spent days working to create.  It’s rather … demoralizing!

7copyright-persian-food-blog-IP-intellectual-property-rights-Abraham-Lincoln-patent-illustration-portrait-protection

Lincoln advocated the protection of  intellectual property law, specifically patents, as adding the “fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”  Thomas Jefferson championed a balanced protection to encourage creativity but not discourage the creative use of ideas. A view I admire.  In a way, intellectual property protection is the Goldilocks of law – too robust and it stifles, too little and it is meaningless, but just the right amount and it is perfect — rewarding creativity yet also allowing for the free exchange of ideas.

As they say, there is nothing new under the sun and we are all inspired by and influenced by all that we see.   A truism … because it’s true!  Fair use is fine with me.  It is more than fine, it is dandy and I herald it. FAIR use.  Not being used.  Thomas Jefferson wrote: “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”  Beautifully put.  No one could say it better.

4copyright-persian-food-blog-IP-intellectual-property-rights-balance-protection

I wrote this last night when I felt considerably hotter under the collar but with Scarlett O’Hara’s sage advice in mind I waited till today to post because after all, tomorrow is another day, and fiddle dee dee, I do feel much less bothered today.  Edits:  they were made! I strongly recommend sleeping on angry posts.

But I’m curious:  I know many of you who read this blog have your own blogs (and Tumblrs and other online-what-nots) with personal work that you painstakingly make and compose and share. I wonder:  how do you deal with this?  This balancing act of wanting to openly create content and put it out there without any expectations and/or putting up barbwires — and yet not wanting to be taken advantage of?  Do you search out perpetrators or do you let karma take its course?  Do you feel petty (as I do to my own astonishment) when feeling upset by unauthorized use?  Let’s not even discuss (or should we) the nefarious marketers who imagine that they can demand flouting FTC rules with blatant disregard of the value of our time, reputation, and work.   (It is amazing how so many people feel they are doing writers and photographers and other content-providers a bloody favor by “exposing” their work.)

I would really like to know what you think about this and how you handle your IP rights.  If you don’t like to publicly comment, please email me, I really want to hear your thoughts.

Copyright-symbol-persian food blog

ps.  An illustrated guide to Norooz (the Persian New Year) coming your way before you know it.

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22 thoughts on “Copy Right Copy Wrong

  1. Hi. It’s Rosa Rajkovic, your # 1 fan. This happens all the time. For many years, I was featured in Cuisine, Food & Wine, House & Garden, and Bon Appetit. This was before the computer era, thus many of my recipeswith my name are not on the Internet. I can google almost all of my published recipes and find them online EXACTLY or almost exactly as I published them online in numerous places. At that time, Jeremiah Tower and I were considered the most creative chefs or cooks in the country, thus most of my recipes were original or adaptations on food I grew up with. I can’t tell you how many of my recipes are on the Internet as being “handed generatiuons through the family.” The biggest offender of stealing recipes almost verbatim is a website called http://www.about.com/ Normally, I am flattered when someone copies a recipe, however, this was a recipe that the Editors of Bon Appetit called their favorite recipe of all time (at that time). http://us-mg6.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?refer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.yahoo.com%2F&.rand=779021232&action=showLetter&umid=2_0_0_1_20948819_AJfci2IAAU7QUUNiUQvFCCUSBKQ&box=Inbox Needless to say, I was quite annoyed when I found this recipe online. I contacted this lady and she did add my name to it as well as to several other recipes of mine that she stole. Here is another recipe this lady, Barbara Rolek, stole from me. The torte is not even Serbian, but it IS a recipe that I published, so she assumed it is Serbian. My mother learned this recipe in Slovenian. I had to contact her AGAIN to “thank” her for “borrowing” my recipe and how “flattered” I was. So, she AGAIN posted my name. I am certain if I look harder, I will find that she has published everyone one of my recipes. http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/croatianserbiandesserts/r/chocolate-torte.htm I found out that this lady was from the town next to the one I grew up in right outside of Chicago. We became Facebook friends. Then she started stealing all my Facebook friends. I blocked her from Facebook, then she contacted my sister still in the area and became Facebook friends with her. This is perhaps extreme stealing, but it just shows you that there are people out there incapable of coming up with anything new including friends. So, I empathize with you. You should scour this website and see if there is anything there of yours. Then there are many people who HAVE given me credit: Paula Wolfert, Russ Parson, Ann Clark, etc. And I thank them. Good Luck! Rose99

    ________________________________ From: Fig & Quince To: parisiancowgirl@yahoo.com Sent: Friday, March 15, 2013 12:02 PM Subject: [New post] Copy Right Copy Wrong WordPress.com azita posted: ” We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (on Persian food and Norooz and spring and all that is blossoming and sprouting and delicious) to bring you this spontaneous rant about the travails of creating content — tenderly with joy and care — ” Respond to this post by replying above this line New post on Fig & Quince Copy Right CopyWrong by azita We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (on Persian food and Norooz and spring and all that is blossoming and sprouting and delicious) to bring you this spontaneous rant about the travails of creating content — tenderly with joy and care — and releasing it into this cyberspace of ours. Here it goes. I don’t watermark content for aesthetic reasons and I do not put up neon signs all over this blog announcing that “all the work here is created by Me Myself and Moi and protected by copyright law” because it is not my cup of tea. But the fact is that the photos and illustrations and all these little words strung together with various degrees of coherence and grammatical soundness are done by the hands of truly, yours. Not magically sprung into existence. I don’t expect to be showered in gold and Japanese quince blossoms in return (although I will gladly succumb to both) but I do harbor delicate hopes that the copyright ownership of the work is respected. Partially to keep that illusion, I refuse to Google search my copy and images (as I know some bloggers vigilantly do to find people who lift their works.) I would rather not know as I’d rather spend the time I would use up kvetching over every such instance on either writing a line, or drawing one, or doing one. (Just. Kidding! I do not do any lines except for laundry and I don’t smoke anything except for fish.) But back to our story, I happened by sheer happenstance to find out that an entity, a commercial entity, was using one of my images on one of their social media channels. It wasn’t a major use but it wasn’t entirely minor either. It is somewhat flattering that they liked my work. It is mucho less flattering that they felt it was permissible to co-opt said work without so much as a God bless. I went back and forth on this but ultimately realized that I was bothered. I was surprised by how much I was bothered. The bother was aggravated by the realization that they were using yet another image of mine in a perhaps not illegal but certainly irritatingly usurping way to get traffic to their social media page. While trying to nurture the possibility of a future working relationship with them (us freelancers have to always hustle, don’t you know!) I asked that they either pay for this usage or remove the image. After some time I received word that “out of respect” they had removed the image. It suspiciously sounded like they were doing me a favor. I want to understand where they are coming from but to be clear: I am supposed to be grateful for their favor of ceasing to infringe my copyright protected work. A work that I literally spent days working to create. It’s rather … demoralizing! Lincoln advocated the protection of intellectual property law, specifically patents, as adding the “fuel of interest to the fire of genius.” Thomas Jefferson championed a balanced protection to encourage creativity but not discourage the creative use of ideas. A view I admire. In a way, intellectual property protection is the Goldilocks of law – too robust and it stifles, too little and it is meaningless, but just the right amount and it is perfect — rewarding creativity yet also allowing for the free exchange of ideas. As they say, there is nothing new under the sun and we are all inspired by and influenced by all th

  2. Hi Rosa! (First: I have no idea why your comment is acting up and is filled with little glyphs and etc.) Wow, so you actually have a dedicated nemesis devoted to stealing from you! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. The entire thing seems to be a true test of your patience. My vexation is so minor compared to your vast body of work (and we all know how much work recipe writing and testing takes) being taken. See, that’s why I’d rather not even know because once you know, it’s so hard to come to terms with it. But honestly, there has got to be a way where we can fight this. On another note: I’d love to find some old copies of the Cuisine, Food & Wine, House & Garden, and Bon Appetit with your recipes. I’ll be on the look out!

  3. I have been maintaining my own blog for 13 years, and have a photography magazine that I maintain with friends. I hate when people use my images without talking to me first, but I also recognize that many people just have no idea that they need to ask! It is amazing how many folks just are clueless about the law. Keep fighting the good fight, and educate as many people as you can.

    • Dear Sholeh, It’s true, some people are just unaware of the law and honestly, personal non-commercial use won’t bother me anyway. It’s when business entities willfully infringe and steal work that they would otherwise have to pay for that I get a bee in my bonnet. That’s just stealing, plain and simple.

      On a brighter note: very happy to meet you and I’d also like to take this opportunity to say hello to Lord and Lady Grantham: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sholeh/8522332977/in/photostream

      LOL!

      • I know poor little mahee ha! Well, if they die it’ll be in keeping with the fate of many a Downton character as of late! Meanwhile: my best wishes for a long life to the Lord and Lady!

  4. – Completely empathise with you on this subject. To begin, though, I used to design costume jewellery and sell in Camden Markets. At least three lines were copied by practically every manufacturer in the country. Was I thrilled that my hand-made jewellery was so popular?!?
    – I used to Google my handle and find copies of my travel photos, that are on Flickr, in so many places. Including a Spanish Pedia site. After sending a polite email stating that I was happy for them to use my work IF they asked permission…well, you’ve guessed it. Still waiting!
    – These days I can’t Google my handle as I’m on here. Every single ‘like’ and comment appears. Trawled through fifteen pages and gave up!
    – No, it’s not being petty. And, love the illustration!

    • Wow, you designed jewelry? Do you have an online portfolio or archive? I’d love to see it. In Farsi we would call people like you (who have many talents) someone “keh az har angoshtesh honar mirizeh” or literally someone who drips art from every finger!

      Thank you for your empathy and for sharing your thoughts.

      • Unfortunately I don’t have my portfolio of jewellery nor artwork from student days (hopefully it’s still in storage). And I never kept examples as friends always asked for more pieces! Could never say no.

  5. I have never searched my images and don’t think I would even know how to do that, I doubt anyone would want to use my photo’s but I guess you never know. It is despicable and I can see why you or anyone would be upset, I would be also. The illustration is fantastic, I can see why trawlers would want to use your images they are really good.

    • It is despicable — and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your recipes are floating out there under someone else’s name — but in some ways it’s best not to know and not to get riled up. It’s healthier. Thank you re the illustration! 😀

  6. Love your artwork. You are one funny gal. I doubt anyone is using my photos, but if I found out, and after a few glasses of wine, well, a bottle, I also could write a very “passionate” post. But I’d publish it, because I’m told I’m impulsive. It’s being violated,
    in a sense.

  7. I try chef Mimi! (To be funny I mean!) You put it exactly the way it feels: a feeling of being violated. Thank you re comment re artwork – appreciate it!:) You are passionate and articulate in general and if a culprit crosses your path, I can only imagine the “passionate” post you’d post! Beware culprits!

  8. Your artwork is phenomenal! I have never googled my pictures and am pretty sure that no one would want any of my images. It is sad isn’t it that people do this sort of thing? We all place a lot of passion and love into our creations and for someone else to use them as their own is horrible. It is like being robbed. If it did happen to me I would contact them first if their contact information is available. I haven’t stamped my pictures and if the person is using your picture and anyone goes into the original properties it will be your information from your camera. Not theirs. Like a spreadsheet. If you create a spreadsheet and someone decides to say they designed it and didn’t. You can look at properties and the name of the person that created it is named. People can try to use others information, however, in the end you can find out whom really did the work. And if they are going through all the trouble to redo all the information then they really are criminal with an intent. Hang in there Azita! You are wonderful 🙂

    • Thank you! Are you kidding about no one wanting to use your pix? I DROOL every.time. I visit your site and the images are enticing! However, I do hope no one has taken them and if they have fie on them. I do feel somewhat silly about having written this rant, but all the same, also feel strongly about it because as you said it is akin to a violation such as robbery. But anywho … CUPCAKES! I’d rather think of that. 😉

      • You are right to rant my dear. It is a violation. You are an incredible artist with everything. Keep on doing it!! 🙂

  9. I have had something similar happen to me recently, what annoyed me was it was a large household name. When it was pointed out to them, they removed the photograph – only for a couple of months later to use it again. What annoyed me most was that the recipe which was suppose to relate to the photograph was completely different on both counts, not only stealing my photograph but lying to their public.

    As you said in some ways it flattering but the bottom line is I spend an awful lot of time struggling to make the most of my photography not to mention the camera I have bought for the purpose.
    I suspect there are other reasons. The photographs they steal are usual on the first page of google images thus they can then push themselves to the top, they know the image is popular and of course its free.

    What makes my blood boil is fine, they want to use my image but when caught they should pay the going rate, not take it down with a feeble apology and walk away. So if we get caught shoplifting – is an apology good enough for them?

    This is an interesting story in an English newspaper.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/mar/11/use-google-images-website
    Perhaps we should issue our own invoices!

  10. Hi Maria,

    Agreed, it’s theft pure and simple. The article you link is quite interesting. I’ve read some similar things here and there as well since writing the post. I think if the infringer is a big enough company, sending an invoice may be the way to go. Afterall, they already used the image and if they wanted to use an image even for an hour via a stock house, they would have to pay for it.

    I don’t know what the answer is but I do feel artists/content-creators should get together and form some type of coalition to fight against this type of blatant theft.

    Also: hi! Nice meeting you! 🙂

  11. I understand your fury. I decided to sign my photos subtley in an area tricky to photoshop as a deterrent. The stealing has definitely slowed down since. I also found a Creative Commons Copyright button that can be easily installed in a sidebar. You choose the level of copyright you want to impose. I know it’s no guarantee, but it will deter some theft. I love your blog, this is my first visit, but I’m hooked. Thanks and good luck.

    • Hi there! To some extent yes, one has to just release the work out there come what may. I won’t necessarily get hot under the collar by personal use but if a business uses work for their own commercial gain, they’ve got to cough up the money. The biz that inspired this post I’ve since realized makes a practice of taking images, plastering their font on it, and just using it as if theirs. But … as you said can deter some but not all.

      But all that aside, nice meeting you and I sure do like the sound of your being hooked on the blog! 🙂

  12. Internet protection tends to make for massive news when it is breached,
    particularly in the cases of the social networking web-sites.
    Implement multi-factor authentication technologies like
    smartcards. Unlike the second type, you never need to get a hold of the target phone to install anything to it.

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