Blogging, Plagiarism, and… Cakes?

When I first started my baking blog, I knew nothing.  Scratch that.  I knew less then nothing.

All I wanted to do was make pretty things and share them.  I often ended each post, “Now go and make it yours!”  I wanted everyone to be baking in their kitchen and finding joy in their successes.

When I am lucky enough to receive an email that says, “You have inspired me…” I am so humbled.

I think inspiration is such a gift, and knowing that I could contribute a small amount brought me more joy then I could imagine.  Then to actual see when people would make rainbow pancakes or a faith cake or Christmas petits fours… well that has me grinning from ear to ear.

As my baking blog grew and the readership expanded, I started to notice my pictures on other sites.  Sometimes I would be credited, sometimes not.  Sometimes people would use my pictures and pass them off as their own.

Soon I felt compelled to add the ‘i am baker’ to each picture.  And although its visually annoying at times, I feel like its a must at this point.  I am learning.

Recently, I received an email about one of my cakes being on a big bloggers site.  I was SO excited!! I ran over to check it out as fast as my little fingers would take me.

(boo-tiful halloween cake)

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When I got there, I saw that the blogger has copied my cake exactly, down to the smallest (and intricately thought out) detail, and then supplied links to her own recipes for it.  At the very bottom of her post she mentioned “inspired by i am baker”.

I was crushed.  I asked her to please let her readers (who complimented her on her creativity and originality and design) know that she made her cake based off my design, that this cake was not her concept.  She refused.

I kept asking myself, why does this bother me so much?  I should be flattered.  I should be happy for her that she is making so much money and getting so much recognition for my cake.  I should be able to let this go.

What I realized was…  I am still experimenting with recipes and have less then a hand full that I can call original.  (an extremely sad admission for a food blogger)  I do not take the best pictures and am in a constant learning mode when it comes to food styling.  I do not offer the best tutorials and rarely host giveaways.

But I do offer ideas.

My ideas are what my blog is.

I offer them freely, with that hopes that people will be inspired and they will make it theirs, and if they do choose to copy me exactly, they will adequately and appropriately offer credit where it is due.

That’s not asking too much right?

Well, according to some very big names in the food blogging industry, it is.  If I want to play with the big boys, I had better learn to roll with the punches.  If I am going to post my pictures and ideas on a public blog, then I had better understand that things will be stolen, ideas will be copied, and words will be plagiarised.

So now I am left with… do I want to be a part of that?

Well, yes.  I love baking.  I love sharing.  I love seeing the fantastic and amazing things other people share.  (its one of the reasons I started an i am baker flickr group, for YOUR creations!)

I cannot control what anyone else does.  But I can control how I react to it.

And I admit it, I was wrong in how I handled the ‘copied cake caper’.  At least, I was wrong in how I let it affect me.

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Being a well informed and aware citizen in the wake of an important election?  That’s important.

Losing sleep over a copied cake? Not so much.

Understanding what is important and what is worth fighting for is something I am learning more about everyday.  And although the blogging thing has had its fair share of bumps in the road, it has also brought me immeasurable joy and peace.

Tonight, as I finish this post, I realize that not only have I made the choice to forgive, I am happy about it!  True forgiveness brings such freedom; a lesson that I seem to need to learn over and over again.

Except I really get it this time Ok?! :)

UPDATED:

First, I just want to say thank you.  I think you really understand why I was upset and taking it all so personal.  There is a way I do things, and I was expecting other people to do it the same way.  That is an unfair and unrealistic expectation and for that, I am sorry.

Second, a few of you found out the bloggers name and went to her site and left comments.  Although I dont encourage that, I have to say, you are some classy ladies.  With a captiol C.  You found a way to mention a little tidbit about i am baker but still support, encourage, and uplift the blogger.  In that moment, I felt so fortunate to know what amazing readers I have.  You are such amazing and special people… you are blessings!!

And lastly, thank you so much for not mentioning the bloggers name.  At this point, I wish her well!  I do not want to bother her with my perspective in this anymore, she knows it and she is of a different mind.  And that is Okie dokie!!

Although the issue is silly and just a speck of time in the big picture, I have learned SO much about myself!  I honestly have to thank that blogger for showing me more about the kind of person I want to be.

Thank you all!!

Comments

  1. Susan H says

    Not sure what planet I am from – but I just found your blogs today and what a treat. Clothes did not get washed, beds did not get made, dinner did get cooked :-) but I had a day of curling up with my laptop and perusing both your blogs. What a vision your treats are. I have NEVER made the attempt to do anything that creative food wise and am VERY impressed. After reading about the “copycat” blogger it took all of 10 seconds with a well worded google to find the blog. Hmmmm have to say that it is kind of like the world of knock off clothes, purses, shoes etc – never as good as the original. Bravo to you for your creativity.

  2. Anne says

    Check this out, another “adaptation” of someone else’s idea
    http://annies-eats.net/2009/03/10/lemon-poppy-seed-cakes-with-lemon-mousse/
    and the original:
    http://www.tarteletteblog.com/2009/01/lemon-poppy-seed-cake-with-meyer-lemon.html
    just put adapted in the search box on her site…
    I’m appalled: The changes if any are mostly minor and she doesn’t even use different words in the directons! I do think there is and should be a sort of food-blogger-netiquette – and that consist of more than just putting up a link…
    Why doesn’t she start out with:
    (…) So, today I wanted to try out X’s recipe for lemon poppy seed cake… what do you all think, how did I do?
    That would show what she is doing: trying out a recipe that is based not on her own creativity!
    On a different note:
    You’re doing a wonderful job! Because of you I no longer shy away from “big baking projects”! Talk about a confidence boost!
    Thank you so much and God bless, Anne

  3. Maggie says

    I’ve been blogging for nearly 2 years and I’m still trying to figure out the exact rules for crediting people. I always rewrite recipes in my own words and use my own pictures, but typically just cited my source at the bottom of the recipe. If I have something nice to say about the blogger, or if it’s a blog I read regularly I sometimes mention them in the text of the post as well. Hopefully no one’s been offended by the way I cite things – I’d definitely change it if that happened!
    As for the blogger, I know exactly who you’re talking about and it doesn’t surprise me at all. If anyone dares ask a question in her comments they get a very snide and curt response. I know we’re all busy and it’s frustrating when someone asks a question that is answered in the recipe, but it doesn’t take anymore time to respond to someone politely.

  4. says

    Your spirit of forgiveness is very inspiring! But at the same time, I would have been totally happy if the other blogger had posted that I inspired her to make the cake and linked back to my site, after all, isn’t that the whole reason for you blog? :) I’m a cake artist and live in the Greenville, SC area. Another local cake artist copied one of my original cake designs,posted it on her blog and website and is passing it off as a “custom cake” misleading others to believe that SHE is the designer. I posted a very nice comment on her blog saying that I see that she recreated my original cake design, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, explained what the occassion was that I designed the cake for, told her that she did a nice job, etc. I was hoping she would get the hint and give me credit and link to my site. Instead she just deleted my comment! Am I just being petty? I wonder what the *big* cake artists do when others copy their designs and don’t give them credit? Maybe we should ask Colette Peters? ;)

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