This post is long overdue: link with love established themselves this summer, and I wanted to tell you all about it, but I got swept up in the craziness of the preserving season. Now that it’s mid-October (can you believe it?) and things in my kitchen have calmed down somewhat, I want to talk just a bit about blogging, sharing, and playing nice in this big jungle gym we call the Interwebs.
‘Round about the time that I stumbled across link with love this summer, I had just been having a conversation with some blogging friends about seeing a lot of my work all over the Web. And not in a good way: don’t get me wrong, I love when people link & share recipes or ideas from the blog on the various social media sites or on their own blog. I’m still tickled pink that anyone is actually here, reading about whatever wacky ketchup or disastrous cake I’ve been whipping up lately (hell, my Mom doesn’t even read my blog) and making the effort to comment, discuss and share. The fact that I can inspire even a single person to get into the kitchen and cook something from scratch is more wonderful to me than you can know, and watching my recipes shared by readers on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest is a true joy. Sadly, a growing and sharing readership comes with a dark side: it’s very difficult to control where your original work ends up.
With plenty of good advice from Elise at Simply Recipes via her post on copyright theft at Food Blog Alliance, I had set up a few Google alerts for my blog name and key topics, registered my blog domain with FairShare, and did my best to keep tabs on where my work was traveling on the Web. Once I started paying attention, I was finding my work, including images, recipes, and entire blog posts, lifted wholesale, on various websites: aggregators, personal blogs, recipe sites. Sometimes with a link back, sometimes with a mention of the blog, often with no attribution at all. And let me tell you: it’s just weird to see your own words, including your personal jokes, notes, illicit swearing and/or husband’s tasting notes, on someone else’s blog, as if it were their own.
Upon finding my work elsewhere, I generally contact the site author and ask nicely that they do not post full images without permission, and that instead of lifting the entire recipe text, that they post an excerpt with a link back to the original on my blog. Nine times out of ten this request is met with heartfelt apologies, instant retractions, etc.: people are just sharing the love. We were all new bloggers once: my own protocol for sharing published works, in book or online form, has evolved over time, and I’m sure some of my early posts now break my own “rules” in that regard. It’s the tenth time that can be aggravating, frustrating and downright infuriating: the authors refuse to acknowledge your kindly worded request, refuse to take down your recipe or images, and/or continue to abuse your copyright by lifting multiple recipes without attribution. It’s enough to make this Scottish redhead see red.
At this point in the conversation, someone always asks, “Why do you care? Isn’t any exposure good exposure?” or “Why do you publish a blog if you don’t want people to read your recipes?” or the dreaded “If you’re going to put stuff up on the internet, you have to expect that it will get stolen.” Well, I’ll tell you why I care: it’s mine. And that’s not just a childish, 5 year-old’s whine: it. is. mine. My words. My voice. My images. I searched out the ingredients, I labored over the stove, I styled the final product, I set up the photographs, I edited in Photoshop for hours (or days!), I crafted a story, I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked the recipe until it was perfect. Or I didn’t: but told you all about how I might tweak in the future. Point is: it’s my labor of love to share as I see fit. I don’t want my recipes on some blog about losing weight. Or cooking ‘tasty quick dinners’ using packaged convenience foods. Or preparing for doomsday with 1000 jars of jam in a shed. It’s just not who I am nor what I stand for. My work: my control. (This, among many other reasons, is why I will never be a Hollywood movie director: I’d be the ultimate “artistic control” diva.)
It was about this time that I stumbled across link with love. And not to be all punny, but I loved the idea: it’s not all hard-and-heavy, “don’t steal my copyrighted work or I’ll sue your theiving ass!”; the message is open, friendly, approachable: “if you like this work, share the love, and give credit where credit is due.” Link with love calls upon the internet community to be a community: accept the responsibility that the very word “community” implies, treat each other’s work with respect, and protect our mutual assets by linking with love ourselves, and teaching others to do the same. I refuse to accept that sharing your work on the internet automatically equals opening yourself up to theft: and link with love agrees with me.
So, my personal rule for linking with love? Consider everyone my friend. After all, eveyone else who has created something from scratch, be it recipe, prose, poetry or photograph, feels the same: it is theirs. I wouldn’t dream of lifting one of Julia’s recipes, as is, and just publishing it on my blog. I would never use one of Shae’s funky Hipstamatic images without asking. I couldn’t imagine writing about one of Kate’s published recipes, or hip tricks, without her permission. And if I do make one of my friend’s published recipes, I write about it in my own words, with my own spin, or not at all, and of course I include a link, and some heartfelt praise, of the original. So I will just apply the friendship code to everyone: authors, bloggers, artists, photographers. I will link with love.
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear ’em. Copyright and attritbution can be grey areas, especially with respect to recipes: I’m hardly the first to write on this topic. For more information on copyright law, recipe attribution, blogging ethics, and linking with love, see the links below. Know of a great resource that I’m missing? Please share.
- Elise Bauer writes at Food Blog Alliance on How to Deal with Copyright Theft
- Marisa at Food in Jars writes about How to Make a Recipe Your Own
- David Lebovitz writes at Food Blog Alliance on Recipe Attribution
- Sean at Punk Domestics weighs in with When Is Content Original?
- Kate at Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking reminds us that print recipes need love too and that plagiarism is a dirty word for a reason
- Brooke and Leah give us the Food Blog Code of Ethics
- Great and simple food blogging etiquette tips from i am baker.
- Link with Love
All graphics from Link with Love.