I admit I am guilty of distributing "stolen" intellectual property. Like most of you reading this, I had no idea. I probably should have caught on sooner. I feel foolish, embarrassed and angry that I was duped into stealing from my fellow bloggers.
Those recipes you have probably seen all over Facebook, extolling you to be sure to like and share it so you will be able to find it later are not only spam, they are misappropriated copyrighted material.
A few Sundays ago my local paper printed this article from The Guardian about how Facebook spammers make $20 million just posting links. Basically, they post a cute or funny picture (or a recipe!) and get people to share them. They make money two ways, people follow the links in their posts and when they get so many fans they turn around and sell the page. Nothing "illegal" in that, I guess.
The line in the article that caught my eye was the quote by one of the spammers about their activities:
"Facebook doesn't ban us, simply because we generate the content on Facebook itself. Everyday I materialize funny, and interesting content full of phrases and so forth that is shared and liked by thousands of users. Without the fan pages Facebook would be an empty place. Tell me how many links do you see shared by your friends on your timeline everyday? You see - the answer is simple."
Then it hit me. Are they really creating the content or just regurgitating it? In the case of the recipes I finally suspected they were copying and pasting from bloggers. Not the big sites, they have lawyers that would come after them. But the small bloggers doing it for a hobby or to generate a little extra income. To check my theory I went to my Facebook timeline and grabbed the first one I saw: John Wayne Casserole. That should be easy to check.
At the bottom of the post was an enticement to follow her personal page and her weight loss support group. Yeah, take a look at the ingredients. Don't they just scream "healthy eating" to you? Me either.
I googled John Wayne Casserole and sure enough the first entry to pop up had the identical recipe and picture to the one above. It was posted on July 16, 2012. So, I clicked on the link to her Facebook page and sent her a quick message to confirm my suspicions. Unfortunately, she was not surprised to see my message. She was actually on Facebook at that moment to go after another fan page ('Hillbilly Recipes') for Copyright Infringement .
The post above makes no mention of Mercedes, or her site "The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife". I'll type it one more time for emphasis, NAVY WIFE. The recipe was stolen from the wife of a Submariner. Knowing what I do about our military, I am sure he is not exactly raking in the dough. The extra amount she earns from the advertising on her site probably comes in handy.
I can only assume my fellow food bloggers spend as much time, if not more, as I do on each post: making the recipe, photographing, editing the photo, writing the blog and then "marketing" it (sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.). I spend at least an hour per post not counting however long it takes to make the recipe.
I intentionally did not blur out the picture or the name of the alleged owner of the page. I am guessing the actual creator of the page, Just Another Copyright Kyping Arrogant Spamming Slimeball (henceforth abbreviated "JACKASS"), probably just created a fictitious name and pilfered the picture as well as the other material on his page. The unsuspecting Facebook user sees this delicious recipe, clicks on it, starts following the page to get more (stolen) recipes then shares the link so others can do the same.
JACKASS profits while The Navy Wife is shut out of the potential advertising earnings. It technically might be "legal", but it is still wrong. You know it, I know it, and JACKASS probably knows it too.
So, I am asking you to do your part and stop clicking on the links, stop sharing them, unfollow the pages that are taking advantage of unsuspecting bloggers and Facebook users. And share this blog, or at least ask your friends to stop supporting these thieves. Because contrary to what the spammer in The Guardian article said, they are not "creating" content. They are distributing stolen property.
If you really want your recipe fix, follow legitimate sites and share their recipes. You won't have the luxury of having a one stop shop with the picture and the recipe right there on Facebook for you. You will probably have to click over to another site. Which will generate a small amount of advertising revenue for the real content creators.
Here's a very short list of some of my favorite recipe sites to get you started. Check out the sites and follow them in any way you like. Most are on all of the major social networks.
The big boys:
- America's Test Kitchen
- Cooking Channel - you can also follow your favorite chefs individually - Alton Brown, Tyler Florence and Under the Tuscan Gun (Extra Virgin) are big Tweeters while Bitchin Kitchen is very interactive on Facebook.
- Cooking Light
- Food Network
- Joy of Cooking
- Sunset Magazine
A few of the blogs I follow:
- Chef Tess Bakeresse - she does some local TV news in he area, so she could be counted as one of the big boys.
- Chef Jack Witherspoon - now that he is on Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-off on Food Network, I probably should move him to one of the big boys!
- Cupcake Rehab
- The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife
- Margie's Forks and Corks
- Munchkin Munchies
- The Pastry Chef's Baking
- Tracey's Culinary Adventures
And of course, if you are so inclined you can click on the Follow Us button over there on the left to follow That Recipe.
If you are a legitimate Food Blogger, feel free to list your site (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+) to the comments. I even have CommentLuv so your most recent post should automatically link up. I will vigilantly delete all spam sites!
Until next time (when I will be back to sharing recipes, I promise), happy eating.