Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Re-Publishing Recipes: SOPA? Fair Use? Copyright Infringement?

You can always ask your librarian for help when you have a question about copyright issues 
(like the use of this picture I took of a library's poster using Batman's image?)

Readers sometimes lament that they can't find certain recipes on this blog. When I blog about someone else's recipe, I do not reprint the recipe. Instead, I refer to the original cookbook and encourage readers to purchase it. I know it would be easier for everyone if I retyped the recipe without permission, but this would be unfair to the original author.

Writers, at the very least, should be fair to other writers. And fairness is a two-way street that includes respecting copyright laws and fair use laws. 

In light of the recent SOPA discussions, writers need to be particularly aware of their rights. With this recipe example in mind, if I’m not creating something new (doing more than simply tweaking a recipe), then I don’t have the right to re-publish someone else’s work. Under current fair use laws, I have the right to comment upon and republish small sections of the recipe.

Writers can analyze or respond to something in the public sphere and/or create something new. SOPA works against what fair use currently allows, rather than supporting writers and other creators by protecting them.

In general, recipes (creations drafted, tested, retested and then clearly written out, edited, revised and eventually published) are only yours to reprint fully if you are the author or if you have permission from the author and/or publishing company. Like with photographs, poems or other creations, it isn't enough to simply give the creator's name and/or include the copyright symbol (if you didn't actually ask permission to use the work, it is even worse to pretend that you did.)

Especially as writers and creative people, we need to help protect each other's rights to our original work and the right to earn a living from that work. For more on Fair Use in creative writing, read the Poetry Foundation and American University’s “Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry”. While focusing on poetry, it applies quite well to all genres of creative writing. You can also go directly to the U.S. copyright office’s explanation of Fair Use.

If you are using materials for educational purposes, check with your school’s policies or read through New York University’s clear Handbook for use of Copyrighted Materials.

I'm currently teaching a food writing workshop online at Fairleigh Dickinson University and this is one of the issues that we discuss in class. We read Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob. If you are interested in doing food writing and tackling these issues yourself, I recommend that you refer to her book or blog for more.

What other resources would you recommend? 

No comments: