Thursday, June 29, 2006

An unpleasant incident and a concern

Someone has publicly accused me of 'getting inspired' by her recipes as a means of finding a solution to my 'Writer's Block'. I don't know if anyone has faced a similarly embarrassing problem in the food blogosphere. It’s taking me a lot of effort to bring this out in the public, so that people who have faced something similar can give their advice on the matter.

The person gave me a link to her archives for me to find out how I have lifted her stuff. The only common recipes I could find were the ones involving bread, eggs and curd rice. After all people in the food blogging world do have similar interests and somewhat similar ideas. And since when have bread, eggs and curd rice become anyone’s copyright? Bread and eggs are universal and curd rice is the life-blood of every South Indian. And then, there are trends-there was a ridge-gourd trend, now I see a 'Ven pongal' trend. People are gracious to mention names of others who have posted a recipe for the same.

In my case, I would have done the same, had I actually spotted the aforementioned recipes in someone’s blog earlier. I have absolutely no intentions of stealing someone’s thunder, let alone recipesI love cooking, and I can humbly say that it is a God given gift, and that any permutation-combination I’ve tried, the results have never been un-edible. It’s the love and passion that goes into making ‘food’ out of just ‘ingredients’. And the same love and passion goes into writing about them. In such a scheme of things, when someone accuses one of ‘lifting’ recipes to cure a Writer’s Block, it is extremely hurting.

At this very moment, I have over 50 pictures of various recipes that I want to blog about. I actually wish I develop a Writer’s Block sometime so that I can take a forcible break from blogging. Because, the love of cooking and writing combined, is turning out to be a time-eating proposition-and a very enjoyable one at that.

I definitely admit the fact that I have visited the concerned person’s blog off and on, but probably didn’t stop to comment. That doesn’t mean that I’m anti their blog. Come on- we visit about atleast 10 blogs a day, on an average and spot 2-3 new recipes on each. It is not really possible to comment on each and every recipe that one spots. And not leaving a comment doesn’t mean that we are giving any less credit or praise for that person’s effort.

Also, the sitecounter that most of us have on our sites- will tell that I visited a particular blog, and if I left my connection on, on one particular page for over an hour while attending to chores, it can’t probably mean that I have spent that much time on one site trying to rip-off content from the archives.

If the person had a sitecounter for those particular recipes that she’s talking about, she would have realized that I have never ever visited those pages, until today. That too only because she pointed it out.At this point of time, I would like to appeal to bloggers out here- to tell me how we can protect ourself from such allegations which are more emotionally disturbing than anything else. It is not quite possible to visit each and every food blog before we post entries to make sure no one else has posted a similar entry. So what is the solution?

This Post was written by Nandita from


Sam said...


it sounds like she has a problem, not you. Food bloggers are constantly inspired by one another's recipes, that's part of the whole point on being a blogger - sharing information freely.

You said she publicly accused you - but where? On her blog or in your comments? If the latter I would delete her comment. If the former, then I am not sure what to suggest.
Is it possible to just ignore it and hope it goes away?

Unknown said...

the accusation is in my comments-first posted as anonymous and then on her own id. I don't mind ignoring this incident, but i need to be sure this doesnt happen a second time! and the whole point is I have never seen those two recipes on her blog- if i had i have no qualms admitting the source

RadiationWatch said...

I think that is entirely her problem, not yours. Just a quick look through your blog entries shows that you are writing a lot about foods that are basic to your food culture and introducing them to people who are unfamiliar with it, and with such basic recipes there are bound to be similarities with other people posting about the same type of cuisine. I post a lot of basic Japanese, etc. recipes on my site...and there aren't that many different ways of making, say, miso soup.

I guess you can't ensure something like that happening again simply because you can't control the reactions of others. I can't remember how many times I have seen my recipes copied verbatim, though mostly on non-food sites (and it's always amusing when commenters on the copied recipe are thanking the copier-poster for the 'great recipe') but life it too short to bother about that for me, and if I were so protective about my recipes I wouldn't put them online.

As long as you are comfortable with your own integrity you can hold your head up high. And. now I'm going to read your site to find out what curd rice is :)

Unknown said...

Thanks Maki, that is truly reassuring...I'm just going to forget this as an unpleaasant incident and never step into that blog again ( I hope the sitemeter gives true results then :)

Kalyn Denny said...

I'm sorry to hear about it. It's sad, because a lot of times I see very similar recipes from blog to blog. Sometimes the person will acknowledge they got it from another blog, but often I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

Amy Sherman said...

It's worth taking a look at the archive of "Copyright" issues in the right hand nav. It's a shame the other blogger felt taken advantage of but it's really not the case. I would certainly confront them over this just to make sure you clear the air.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you need to protect yourself, defend yourself, or anything else. As others said, it sounds like she has the problem, not you.

If you feel as if you have to address it on your blog, because the comment is there (you could remove them if they bother you - it is your blog after all), you could respond with a simplified version of what you posted here - that you hadn't seen her recipes, but that you both draw from similar backgrounds (after all, her recipes were probably inspired by someone else's somewhere along the line), and that you apologize if she felt that you had copied, but that your inspirations had come from elsewhere. Then just leave it alone.

Michele said...

I think the person is being paranoid too. I've seen plenty of my recipes or varations thereof on other blogs and have also found gret recipes that I have made. When I make and blog about then I sign the original maker's blog saying I made it and how much I enjoyed it. I always give a link back to their blog and they are always happy that I took the time to let them know. Just keep on blogging and cooking, it's a free blogosphere after all :)

Anonymous said...

I'll join the chorus...I think you should delete the comment if you haven't already and forget about it. Remember: part of the fun of blogging is that it's your ball, your field and your lights.

Billions of people eat every day, and have been for a very long time, so it's absolutely ridiculous to think that there is anything like an original recipe in the world today...they're all variations on the accumulated culinary history...

Madeline said...

Let me first say that I would delete the comment if I was you, especially in light of the fact that there is no merit to it!

And, not to get technical, because it's not really the point, but I had some vague recollection from law school that a recipe is subject to only a limited copyright. There is an interesting Washington Post article about it and here is a little excerpt:

"U.S. copyright law addresses recipes, but what holds sway can be called either ethics or etiquette. Cooking is not considered inventing; rather, it evolves. Copyright law specifies that "substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions," such as a cookbook, can be copyrighted but that a mere list of ingredients cannot receive that protection."

Andrew said...

You havent mentioned the particular blog but one author of an Indian-based blog crossed my path a month or two back - agressive tone to emails, bandishing copyright infringment and the like... I wonder if it is the same person?

Any 'true' blogger would be much more tolerant and should use a polite email raising the points rather than leaving a comment.

Unknown said...

A million thanks to all of you for helping me overcome this emotionally disturbing incident.

I had left the comment on because I thought since I have done no wrong, I don't have to fear any baseless allegations.
But then, taking your advice, I finally deleted the comment and wisely turned on comment moderation.WIse, because there was one more comment from the same person, which was no less unpleasant.
The person has raised the point that I'm not even her "friend", if i was she would have said that "great minds think alike"- this shows that the person doesn't have the maturity for me to rationally explain things out.
The best option that most have already suggested is the ignore route and never to visit that blog again so that anything I post, the person is rest assured, that it's not "inspired" from her.
'Not leaving comments' on someone's post gets quite some people angry. And I haven't deliberately done that to her. It just happened like that-but then it's difficult if people translate 'not leaving comments' to arrogance and sneakiness. Come on, your blog is uploaded for the world to see! If one calls 'reading someone's blog' -sneakiness then please keep a private blog.
Hopefully the person will realise that I have never got inspired from her (if i had i would gladly make a mention on my blog-we are all here to share our ideas).
and I have learnt that 'Comment moderation' helps- it's naive to be so trusting as to let anyone comment on your blog. It's like leaving our home door open to anyone and everyone

Thanks again fellow foodbloggers for your advice.


Rachael Narins said...

I think anyone who leaves comments like that is just silly.

That said, using this forum to publicly slap her was the perfect solution...shame on her for being so uptight.

Heavens! There are weeks when pretty much every blog I read is focusing on the same thing! Its the nature of...well, nature! What's in season and whatall...

Good for you for keeping the post up, she will no doubt read this and realize the error of her ways...



Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about this Nandita.

Getting inspired is a good thing. I do agree with other posters, it's her problem and the burden of proof is on her, if she persists.

Food blogging is a unique and wonderful community. I hope you two (whoever that blogger is) make up again. That's my heartfelt request for you two. If that happens, please don't forget to post an update.