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Maybe your grandmother was right after all; perhaps some recipes are best kept as secrets. In the age of the internet and e-books, receiving due credit for a recipe is often precarious. At Food52, we try very hard to avoid problems of plagiarism and "recipe theft" -- whenever you post a recipe to Food52, it's supposed to be an original. During our Recipe Writing Week, Merrill explained how to write an original recipe and discussed the many nuances of what makes a recipe an original.
Unfortunately, not all players abide by the rules. Garrett McCord of The Huffington Post reports a specific instance of copyright infringement. A very popular e-book on Amazon, Vegan Diet: The Art of Living: Inspired By Eat to Live: 200+ Recipes Cookbook, was recently discovered to be full of recipes stolen from Susan Voison's blog, Fatfree Vegan Recipes. Unfortunately, there are many loopholes in the laws surrounding media on the internet. For one thing, copyright infringement laws differ from country to country and given the internet's power to transmit information globally, not all users obey the same laws. Also, unless individual blog posts are copyrighted, (which is unlikely), no copyright infringement has technically occured. In addition, according to the article, recipes themselves cannot be copyrighted. Although it is difficult for writers to protect their work, McCord offers a list of suggestions for food writers on how to protect themselves. But let's face it: none of his suggestions are as sound as your grandmother's advice to take your recipes with you to the grave.
Theft of a Food Blog: Copyright Infringement in the E-book Marketplace from The Huffington Post