copyright/attribution protocol for online recipe database/collection

Joined Dec 12, 2009
i use an online recipe database to store my recipes. i like it as it allows me to save recipes that i find online of interest to me and especially allows me to change or make notes on recipes that i have taken apart and made my own. recipes that are copyrighted, i make private so that nobody else can view it. everything else is public for others to test out. i am quite diligent in attributing recipes to their original creators, even after i've changed it beyond all recognition, and always include links for my own benefit as well as give due credit to the originator.

for the majority of the members, however, it's basically a recipe aggregator to copy recipes they find online and add to their collection, except they don't always have links directing viewers to or even mention the source. i'm sure there are a few recipes taken straight from copyrighted cookbooks.

i spoke with the owner of the website about copyright issues and even suggested that he have some sort of how-to for creating links or, at the least, state somewhere in FAQ the basics of copyright or attribution. he's either too busy, as this is a side project, or does not think it affects him in any ways.

a scenario actually developed which makes addressing this issue even more imperative. a food blogger noted that one of her recipes was copied into a member's public recipe collection with no mention of where it was copied from. the recipe photo clearly has the blogger's watermark. the blogger tried to get the member to credit her in the recipe post to no avail. her requests appeared to just be ignored, twice, as there was a follow-up request for acknowledgment. i alerted the website owner after two weeks had gone by and urged him to address this as well as pointed out and reiterated what the blogger stated, that she put a lot of work into creating the recipe and setting up the photos so should get some acknowledgment. his response was to post a public comment to the recipe post:

"We have contacted this member to have them mark the recipe as private or give you credit."

that was over 3 weeks ago and the member has done nothing as has the owner-nothing. i felt it was handled rather badly in giving the member more leeway to choose not to act appropriately and am disgruntled, dismayed and just generally annoyed that the owner isn't more proactive about this. legality aside, it's just a matter of common courtesy. granted, there is no way to prove that people are actually trying to claim the recipe as their own as opposed to just being lazy or computer illiterate, but not giving due credit to the original creator is just wrong, especially after acknowledgment was requested and it's not only the recipes but also the photographs.

i really like this website and haven't found anything else that gives me the various features that it does. i'm not sure what the protocol for this matter is. should the owner just switch the recipe to private views only himself, removing the post from public view, as YouTube has effectively done with videos, or does the rights of the member's recipe collection supersede any rights that the owner has over his own website? i'm of the opinion that he should just remove it from public view and make it a point of alerting the rest of the members the correct protocols for publicly displaying the recipes not originally their own in their collection or at least state somewhere on the website, but this isn't my website and not sure if my infuriated bellyaching is going to change his mind, short of being shut-down, which i'm afraid is going to be what will happen. that means all of the recipes that i've stored from my family or have hammered out to the point where i'm satisfied, will possibly be lost.

i know this is getting over long and hope people don't fall asleep reading it but i really do want people's thoughts on this matter. apologize for my verbosity.

thank you
Joined Feb 1, 2007
First off, the recipe may or may not be copyrighted. Recipes, per se, are not subject to copyright protection. So it depends on how unique the instructions accompanying it are, and whether or not the copyright of the blog as a whole applies.

The photo, however, most certainly is copyright protected, and is the intellectual property of the creator. Given the facts as you presented them, both the website owner and the person who posted them without permission are liable under the law.

If it ever got to court, and given that they ignored requests from the owner, their liability could be incredibly high.

Legalities aside, you are right. Simple courtesy would dictate that if you are posting somebody elses recipe that you at least credit them. Given the owners attitude about that, I, for one, would certainly not be a member of such a site.
Joined Dec 12, 2009
thanks KYHeirloomer

having looked at all the posts on here for copyright and on the internet, was thinking that the photographs were indded going to be a liability for the website. i will make one last attempt to contact the owner and try to see if he will rectify this, giving him the benefit of the doubt that he's more clueless rather than an [email protected] he has heeded my advice before and is usually quite receptive. i'm just going to assume that he's busy because there's a really selfish part of me that really dreads transferring all that data over to another online database.

thanks again for your help. i will use what you say to try to persuade him. and if it comes to naught, will have to find another database as i also do agree with your sentiment about not supporting sites that disregards someone's hard work in that way.
Joined Aug 20, 2010
It is up to the food blogger you've mentioned as the owner of the copyright to contact the owner of the website. They can escalate this up a notch by sending the website a take down notice. Search "dmca takedown notice" for the exact requirements. The website owner is not liable as long as they act in good faith and respond to the notice. Simply asking unfortunately doesn't always work. I think it all depends how important this is to the infringed individual.
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