Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blog Etiquette

I've noticed a non food blogger is using food bloggers photographs on their site without giving credit to the original blogger. I would notify them directly, the etiquette of giving credit where it is due but they do not have an email address on their site. I don't feel comfortable leaving it in the comments section. I'm hoping said blogger will read this and take note.

This Post was written by Barbara from Winos and Foodies


Amy Sherman said...

Uh, forgive me if this is a stupid question, but what is the likelihood that a "non food blogger" will be reading anything here? If I were you, I would contact the blogger and if a leaving a comment is the only way, so be it!

Also if you recognize other people's photos it would be a courtesy to let them know. I really appreciate it when people let me know that they have found my content reprinted somewhere.

Andrew said...

i was going to say exactly the same thing - its a non-food blogger? then name - give us the link so we can go protect our own or at the very least let us check to see whose other photos they are using!

Annie said...

I'm not sure who Barbara meant either, but I did stumble across this site that appears to be completely unoriginal, photographs and all:

MizD said...

Glancing at the site Annie just posted, check out the disclaimer at the bottom:

All materials posted here have been collected from a wide number of sources on the Internet, including but not limited to other free sites, newsgroups and other sources and are believed to be in the 'public domain'. If you are the rightful owner of any materials posted here, and object to them being displayed - please contact us and it will be removed immediately.

Someone seriously needs to school this person in the definition of "public domain." Sheesh.

Also, ditto Andrew. Post the name and link. We should all know who the photo thieves are.

Andrew said...

I see there is a small link at the bottom of each post on that greatest recipe site - not enough in my view to warrant such full scraping. I've reported it to google just on the off chance the site is making some money.

kitchenmage said...

the link annie posted is to someone who is clearly ripping off stuff to make $ on google adwords. someone whose power is not flickering from the "going to gust to 105MPH winds" should report them...check the linked blogs...there's a purely photo blog that's all stolen too!

Anonymous said...

The blogger in question leaves comments on a lot of food blogs and sometimes writes about food which makes me think she would probably drop by here. She seems a nice enough person and I didn't want to embarrass her by leaving a public comment. She doesn't do it often, it is only the occaisonal one. Of the pictures I have recognised I have informed the owner of the photograph. She also doesn't have any advertising on her site.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Still - even if they are nice enough, I have been hearing of such rip offs a lot lately. I think we should somewhere (maybe here on the FoodBlog Scool) start a Blacklist of all such people. Out them in public is what I say!

A bit like here:

It seems there are very many food bloggers whose contents and photos are being copied and unless we really do something about it, people will think it is OK to be so cheeky.

Annie said...

I also reported that greatestrecipe site to Google Ads and got what looked like a form e-mail response. I responded back to clarify that the site violates their agreement and am awaiting a response. Maybe more e-mail will get them to cancel that account.

What's worse is that this blogger sometimes alters the picture to make it look different from the original, cropping and zooming a bit. It's bad enough to steal, but to alter the original? Talk about adding insult to injury.

Anonymous said...

Whenever you find a site that is copying content in any form or fashion, I've found the best method of response (based on ten years of working in the web industry) to be as follows....

1. If you are NOT the copyright holder notify the original creator and let them handle things how they wish. They always have a better chance of resolution then a third party.

2. If it is a blog and no email address is available, leave a short comment that you need to be contacted urgently. You can also research the WHOIS database to see who owns the domain if they have one. This is the best way to get contact info, as well as web host name.

3. Before contacting the hosting company, do your best to contact the site owner and ask them to remove the content. Tell them that a slow response will result in notification of their web host, domain registrar, and appropriate search engines (some search sites like Yahoo have a copyright dispute process and will de-index the site in question).

4. If you receive no response from the domain owners, then proceed with contacting others mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting thread here. I'm new to all this and have a comment and question.

I've never really been bothered by people taking my images as long as credit is given to me. And I haven't really given any consideration to people taking my images without asking because I thought "hey, what can I do about it?"

But after reading this I have a question: other than stealing an image for microstock, can someone take something of mine and actually make money off of it? I'm admittedly not as militant with my work as others, but if there are actions more nefarious then I realize with blog image appropriation I'd sure like to know.


Anonymous said...

HI matt...there are a lot of spam blogs out there that are essentially made to generate income from adsense or other advertising programs. These are often the worst at taking others comments and usually do this via RSS feeds.

Personally I don't mind having a photo or feed used as long as I get credit. That's why I make sure to include a copyright notice and link footer in my posts which shows in my RSS. If you use Flikr and other tools you can also set rules to disallow use by others.

Anonymous said...

I found some photographs that belong to me and to one of my clients on a non-food blog. They were uncredited, and it really irked me that I hadn't been asked permission. I sent off a civil but tart letter saying, "What the?"

As flattering as it is to check my stats for I Heart Farms and find a link to your site, it is not flattering to see my photograph used without my knowledge or permission. It's not only painful, it's illegal to shoplift a photo and use it on your own site. It violates copyright laws and it violates plain ol' good manners.

Don't get me wrong: I like what I read on your blog, but I really have a hard time seeing not only my photo, but a graphic from my client's website used as well.

I understand wanting to give your blog some color, but I do not want it to come in this manner. Were you aware that all the images on your site are (seemingly) used illegally?

It's just not cool, no matter how good your intentions are. Please remove our photos.

Thank you,
Tana Butler


LETTER #2, Her Response

I have no problem removing the photos, but this doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. I certainly understand how copyright laws work, but there is an unspoken ethos in blogging that comes from a spirit of sharing, of remixing writiing and images to create something not simply derivative but creative itself, and of spreading the word on useful news, businesses, resources, experiences that deserve wider dissemination.

That's where I was coming from. Bloggers - which tend to be individuals representing their own tastes, passions, recommendations - don't ask for permission to use photos, snippets of writing from business or news sites nor other blogs -- ever, we are not mass market journalists -- they'd rather move to another topic in that ask-permission lagtime as the writing is meant to be fresh, dynamic, real-time, live web. Customer evangelists are meant to be encouraged, rather than squashed or vilified.

Most blogs and businesses I write about are more than happy to have admirers spreading the word out further. I am invited to press briefings, conferences, press tastings, sent free samples of products and marketing materials, etc for precisely this purpose - and yet I chose to talk about businesses that resonate with me directly, most often their publicist or PR person has never contacted me.

Majority of companies would love that their writing and photos - barring if they are actually in business of selling professional photography, and even then smaller version of photos are often appreciated to expose the artist more widely - to be used for helpful purposes like mine by the public, press, bloggers, customers, fans, etc. as they are attributed and linked to. Had I wanted to plagiarize, I wouldn't have linked to you at all - I wanted to you to know I liked it - the intent is to share this discovery with the world. I have never claimed the work as my own on the blog. As you can see in the post in question, I include hyperlinks to everyone, I include quotes, I give credit to the magazine. This is proper blogging etiquette (and I consult on business blogging).


LETTER #3: My Reponse to That

Thank you for writing.

One of the core issues for me is in using without asking—it just doesn't seem right. I would never dream of using someone's photo without asking them, or even without letting them know, "Hey, I think your work is great, and I'm going to mention/feature it on my blog." Use of photos without permission, in my world, simply isn't done.

And the other minor issue is that, as a professional photographer, I deserve a photo credit: my actual name.

I am as generous a person as anyone alive—more generous than most. I have two grown stepdaughters. Every time they come to my house, even if I am dead broke, I send them home with some groceries. But I don't like it when they go into my kitchen and pilfer food (how do they know I wasn't going to serve that for dinner, for instance). I give happily and abundantly, but don't enjoy being taken for granted. So it is hurtful to me that you didn't ask, you just assumed and helped yourself.

I hardly think it's vilifying anyone to point out a transgression of etiquette, though Miss Manners would probably spank my hand with an open ruler for saying so. (And I'd thank her and ask for another.)

It's not my philosophy, but my feelings. I will reiterate that I am incredibly generous, but I like to be asked if I feel like sharing something. So that I can say yes, so that I can experience directly the appreciation someone might have for my work. A little flattery goes a long, long way, most of the time.

As far as my client goes...think of this. If your post actually turned someone on to their work, how would they even know to thank you?

I don't think it is a useful or kind assumption to have that taking artistic content from someone, without asking their permission, is cool. I have gladly let people use my work, with credit, hundreds of times. Because they asked nicely.

It's that simple. If that somehow offends you, then I am sorry.

Thank you for understanding,


LETTER #4, Her Final Note

Hi Tana,
Okay, I see where you're coming from. Forgive me if I had an edge to my tone previously, and I did, and I should not have written while exasperated.

Let's talk one artist to another artist. I'm a professional writer.

I also work with a lot of creative people - entrepreneurs to painters to designers to poets. Many of my best friends are trying to make it as full-time artists.

The whole of 'media' and I use that term broadly is radically shifting. Your point about your child taking food from cupboard doesn't hold with digital media - it's not a finite resource that gets used up. In fact, there is nothing so infinitely renewing as creativity, as long as it's free to flow.

Many artists, and I've been there, are holding themselves back by holding too tightly to their baby. We birth it, bathe it, fed it, nurture it, bandage its wounds - yes - but it doesn't make it yours. Children do leave the nest. It's free, it has a life of its own and all creations get to point where they need to spread their wings out in the wide world. And you send it on its way as well-prepared as you can. I think what you're trying to do with I Heart Farms, etc. is bigger than one photo, bigger than your whole portfolio of photos, bigger than you. Other people most likely get involved to grow it further. In a small way, I tried to get involved.

You have no idea the number of times the only 'credit' I get is "this woman wrote something neat" - no name, not even name of my blog, just a link to the post. Sometimes not even that. I'll just read a reference to my name - no link - by accident. Often my snippet is out of context, sometimes even they did not get the main point, etc. But still it's overall heading in the right direction, and the idea/creation is spreading, sparking interest, being embraced, and it gives me a chance to engage with them even if they got point wrong, etc.

I don't need credit, praise, kudos, thank yous - many times a mother's job doesn't come with any thanks. Mostly invisible, but immensely important work. I've let others take credit for my ideas if it helped the broader mission succeed, and they didn't even know they took the idea - I often plant seeds and allow others to run with it. In the end, the idea hardly is mine to possess, yet I birthed it into world.

You'll get something more in end than credits, you'll see the seeds of your vision/dream for the world blossom, ripen, come into fruition. And paradoxically with or without credit, incredible abundance comes with that because you are doing the work of the world without attachment.

So maybe let's start over. I agree I should have done a bit more homework on your blog and linked to your name too, not just the blog. But truly no one in blogosphere asks permission in advance - this issue will come up again and again with someone else online trying to spread your mission because they are aligned with it.

So I'm asking permission, now. Forgive me. I'd update with your names (also your client's other photographer).

If I take it down entirely, at this point, since my readers - and I have a pretty well-read blog - are primarily subscribing in their RSS readers and not viewing on the website, they'll see the removed picture update - every iingle publish change sends a ping to blogosphere. And I worry that'll be interpreted in a way that won't foster goodwill for your blog. I don't mean this as a threat - I am fine personally either way - picture or not - but I see what you're trying to do and I don't want to hinder the mission's momentum.


So I think it's pretty outrageous to claim that all bloggers help themselves to whatever's out there: we food bloggers certainly (mostly) know copyright issues and plain common sense. Do I think it's okay to take without asking? I do not.

Anyway, that's how I handled the content theft when I discovered it. I'm glad she was reasonable, and I'm glad we had a productive dialog about it.

MizD said...

Tana, that email exchange is absolutely fascinating. It seems to me, this woman is illogically conflating Creative Commons, Open Source, and Public Domain. She should be reminded that there is a well-defined range of acceptable use that even the most generous contributors to the web's "commons" understand, and that it is definitely not a free-for-all as she insists. If the conversation continues, you might want to point her to the Creative Commons Licensing page and ask her if there is, as she claims, an "unspoken ethos" that allows bloggers to take without asking, then why is Creative Commons licensing a growing movement and not a dying one?

Andrew said...

I cant believe that exchange - I would have been a lot nastier (where did I put that scimitar?) plainly she is wrong - her idea of the blogosphere is simply wrong - you don't just go nicking other peoples work. I wonder what she would do if the roles were reversed.

Susan Voisin said...

I'm a little confused over the whole subject myself. On the one hand, I've been flattered when a blog like Slashfood has featured my photos, mentioned my name, and linked to my blog (like this), even though they haven't asked permission beforehand. I figure that they're giving full credit to me and generating traffic to my blog. On the other hand, if someone took the same photo and posted no link nor indication that it was mine, I would be very unhappy.

What I have trouble figuring out is the in-between area, which is where it sounds like Tana's experience fell. If they post a link to the photo, but don't mention the blogger's name or blog's name and do not ask permission first, is that as bad as not posting a link at all?

When I look at the copyright notice at the bottom of my blog template, I notice that I've asked for nothing more than a link back to my site. Would a Creative Commons license offer me more protection?

nika said...

This person's first sin is one of arrogance. She thinks she can speak to an overarching blogger ethos. She sounds like she is pretty clueless about what it means to be a content provider. This BS about letting babies go is so full of it, it oozes.

Sorry you had to TRY to educate an obviously closeminded and ill-informed person. I really dont think she understands copyright and, more importantly, artistic expression and work (especially on today's net).

If she wants to give it all away for "free" (in my mind credit can be hugely more valuable than some small amount of money for one use) then she can, she CANT take it all for free.

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