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I say mujadara, you say … what I said

This has been cross-posted on BlogHer.com.

A few days ago, I received a comment from someone alerting me that a post of mine had been pirated. I clicked through to the offending post, and found myself on a product page for a rice and lentil pilaf in a box. To be sure, they had taken nearly verbatim some of the language from my mujadara post. I said,

Mujadara is one of those deceptive dishes that fools you into thinking
it's an easy, one-dish meal. I mean, it's just rice, lentils and
onions. How hard could it be? Well, it's not hard, but nor is it
simple. You must cook each thing independently and mix them carefully
in order to achieve the contrasting textures and flavors that make this
a successful dish.

As part of their product description, they said,

Mujadara is one of those Mediterranean dishes that fools one into
thinking it’s an easy to make, one-dish meal. In reality, it’s not
hard, but nor is it simple. One must cook each item independently and
mix them carefully in order to achieve the contrasting textures and
flavors that make this a successful dish.

Closing with, "This dish is ready to eat in two minutes by simply microwaving the contents or boiling the entire pouch in boiling water"

At first I was baffled, then amused, for the words they had stolen describe the careful preparation of separate ingredients to achieve a greater whole, yet they were selling a product that requires only the addition of hot water. I laughed it off.

Not all such transgressions are so benign. Content theft and copyright infringement are rampant on the Internet, and I think food bloggers are particularly vulnerable. But what do you do about it?

The answers are not always cut-and-dried. After all, there's a big difference between the innocent copying of your content by a well-meaning individual who wants to flatter by way of imitation and wholesale content theft by scraping feeds, also knows as splogging. I don't know anyone who hasn't fallen prey to both, myself included.

This is why I am so excited to be moderating a panel at tomorrow's BlogHer Food '09 event, at the St Regis Hotel here in San Francisco. I'll be joined bu über-blogger Elise Bauer, who has seen her content stolen a thousand times over and knows the hows and whys of fixing the problem, and food blogger-cum-lawyer Lisa Johnson, who can fill us in on what exactly our rights are, and how we can better protect ourselves. 

If you're coming to the conference, I hope you'll join our session. If you are not, then please feel free to follow along via the live blog on BlogHer.com; all the sessions will be live-blogged, so tune in!

Have you had your content misappropriated? How have you dealt with it?

  • It was great meeting you Sean! You did a great job moderating and keeping us on track. Thank you! 😀

  • It’s awful that this happens so frequently in the online world. Did you pick up any helpful insights to help prevent it from happening again in the future? Or is it just something one has to live with and hope that people develop more of a conscience? Sigh.

  • Here’s one way it happens: My son makes a tiny bit of money online through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where vendors list tiny tasks and pay a nickel or a dime for people to do random things — Google something, fill out a survey, or assign tags to a paragraph. One of the tasks that is prevalent is to “rewrite sentences.” The task gives a sentence or two, and you get a nickel for rewriting it slightly. It’s apparently how some blogs build up content by rewriting their own stuff, and by scraping and retooling the work of others. Heinous!

  • < !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
    Eek! Heinous is right. And nefarious!

  • Interesting! I am new to blogging so I guess I will sooner or later have to face that problem. I did see one of my photos taken from a post on kibbe was placed on facebook without my permission!

  • This is a very interesting topic. I’m glad to know there are at least some measures to fight against stealing of content!