*UPDATE* 1:08PM Eastern 1/16/2012 The offending site is being altered. This is all I wanted.
If you are dealing with content issues please read the site I reference below for how to handle what you’re specifically dealing with.
Over the weekend I received quite a nasty surprise. There is a woman in Ocala, FL copying the premise of Home-Ec101.com. I have filed a DMCA takedown, been in contact with my publisher, and the next step, if she does not comply within 72 hours, is to contact her hosting provider. (If you ever have questions about how to handle content theft, copyright infringement, and plagiarism, PlagiarismToday is my favorite resource).
Over the past few years I’ve dealt with a few issues of copyright violation. It’s part and parcel of working on the Internet where many people assume there is no copyright and that all content and ideas published on this medium are fair game. This is simply not true.
All of the work here on Home-Ec101.com is original and the rights belong to me or in some cases, my writers.
Point of clarification regarding copyright and recipes.
Recipes are sort of touchy. You cannot copyright a list of ingredients and basic instructions. Original narrative is copyrightable, as are pictures and collections of recipes. When I find someone has re-published one of my recipes with my pictures and narrative I generally politely contact them and ask for the work to be altered, removed, or properly credited.
I also don’t mind if someone is inspired by my work. I do not own the concept of education in the home economics field. It’s perfectly ok to start another website on this topic. I have contacted people in the past to let them know, it may be difficult to brand their work with the name Home-Ec 101, since I’ve been using it, in this context since 2007, and as a traditionally published work since March of 2011.
My personal opinion on image use:
If someone has done something called “hotlinking” I will occasionally replace the original picture with a very tacky image that says this content has been stolen from Home-Ec101.com. Serving images is not free; please, host them yourselves.
I also, and this is my personal opinion others’ may differ, don’t mind if someone uses one of my pictures in a post publicizing my work. Meaning, if you liked a recipe and want to tell your readers about my recipe, I don’t mind one bit if you use my picture to say “Hey, I made this, check out Home Ec 101 for the recipe.” This is also how Pinterest works. I love that so many of you like the pictures and help spread Home Ec 101 around the web. Pinterest helps me learn what people really like on this site.
There are thousands of homemaking websites out there; I love the writers who want to help adults better themselves in this field. We each differ in how we present the same knowledge. There are only so many ways to describe scrubbing a toilet; about this I have no illusions. What makes us unique are our voices.
Here’s why I felt compelled to write about copyright.
Adding one word to Home Ec 101 Skills for Everyday Living is not creating a unique brand or voice.
Advertising Home Ec 101 classes on a tacky site based on my concept? That’s even worse.
I can’t decide what I’m angrier about; the blatant copying or the fact that she cheapened the Home Ec 101 brand and made it look tacky. Here’s a screenshot, so you don’t have to visit modernhomeec101.com.
This is not the case of a new blogger not knowing any better. This is someone who is attempting to make money off of my years of work. Additionally, there will be people out there who may assume that this concept has my approval.
This is also an opportunity for me to help those considering blogging as a hobby or job, develop a deeper understanding of copyright.
If you want to teach home economic / life skills courses in your area, by all means go ahead. Kudos to you for having the drive and initiative to do the work. Just take the time to come up with your own branding and voice.
Founder of Home-Ec101.com and author of Home Ec 101 Skills for Everyday Living.