Saturday, April 27, 2019

That Bagel Recipe, Morality, and Accreditation

Having been accused by some people of being immoral and unethical, I feel the need to defend myself.

As the author of a few published cookbooks who had recipes stolen and put in other published cookbooks without the slightest accreditation myself, I know just how awful that is. When I've created original content, figuring out some awesome things by myself and had my content literally copied word for word onto another blog with zero accreditation, I contacted the author of that blog, as did a bunch of readers of this blog, and that author then edited her post to include a link to my post with its original content, and it's actually been such a great source of traffic for my blog. So what originally left me quite annoyed at my content literally being stolen actually turned out for the good.

Why am I writing this?

Because being a moral upright person is very important to me. As someone whose livelihood is affected by the amount of people that come to my blog, and the amount of traffic it gets, I wouldn't do something that I wouldn't want done to me. I would never do anything to intentionally hurt someone else, so for someone to go and accuse me all over the internet of being immoral and stealing is really painful, and hurts my reputation, which also is important to me.

As someone who has been involved in the blogosphere and specifically the food blogosphere for nearly 10 years, I've done my research and know what the standard is in terms of accreditation of recipes. And the legal aspect of it.

There is no such thing as copyrighting a recipe. A list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. What can be copyrighted is specific texts and wording in directions. Here's a handy guide, by the way, that talks about the law.  The general rule of thumb, by the way, is that if you even change one ingredient in a list of ingredients, that recipe is 100% yours, copyright rules aside. However, when it comes to blogging etiquette, if you got your idea for a recipe from someone else, it's considered good form to link to the source where you got your inspiration from, but if you saw the recipe in a bunch of places, you can say that, but don't have to give a specific link.

So, why am I bringing this up?

I just logged into my computer after 2 days of being offline, and saw accusations in many different places, of having stolen the bagel recipe I post on this blog on Wednesday. One of the many accusations was that I didn't give proper sourcing or accreditation to the author, when they worked so hard to make the original recipe.

The thing is, I never claimed to have invented this recipe myself. Within the first two lines of my recipe post, I linked to where I saw it, and wrote specifically why I was posting my own version: I was making it with potato starch instead of tapioca starch, something that I had available and is a much more readily accessible ingredient. Additionally, I made mine completely egg free so that it would be allergy friendly. That's what recipe bloggers do: sometimes we make up recipes completely on our own, but many times we get inspiration from other recipes, then tweak them to make them our own, and share our new version with our readers so they can also benefit from our kitchen experimentation. And always, of course, with a link to where we saw it.

Anyhow, in the link where I originally saw this recipe, at the bottom of the recipe, there is a link to Kiwi and Carrot, where the author got her recipe from.

In the original post, Kiwi and Carrot herself says:

"I can’t take credit for the brilliant invention of this recipe… I found it floating around the interwebs on multiple blogs and websites, so I’m not sure who the original creator was, but if you’re out there, YOU SAVED MY LIFE. Can we please go to lunch together and become bestie friends forever? Maybe we can involve friendship bracelets and locket necklaces with a photo of these bagels inside? Ok thanks. But really you guys, these are absolutely amazing."

I followed proper internet etiquette in terms of citing my sources for my recipes, but have since edited to include the name of the website that I'm linking to in my original post. This person, who definitely didn't create the recipe itself, still deserves appreciation for being the reason I was able to discover that amazing recipe.

And hey, maybe it'll help her internet traffic. ;)


  1. One time I called a blogger on a recipe she had clearly lifted from one of Amy Dacyzyn's books. Her response was that it was used by so many people that it belonged to no one. It was word for word the same recipe, and Amy had used some words that were her special way of talking. Later, another blogger used the same recipe and gave credit to Amy. It doesn't take a lot of energy to just give credit where it's due.

  2. I find lots of great recipes online and I give credit where it is due. I do have some family recipes and others that have been in my collection for 40+ years. I did have someone publish a whole bunch of those recipes as their own. Several people saw it and knew they were mine and spoke to the person about it. That person tarnished her own reputation, as she and I are in some of the same circles.


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