What Every Facebook User Needs to Know

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Important Info About Sharing on Facebook

There is an epidemic on facebook lately.  Beautiful and delicious recipes (and their images) are being posted.  Those images and recipes are being shared hundreds and thousands of times.

Here is the bad part: The people posting those images DO NOT OWN THEM. (example below)

They have found them on search engines, pinterest, and blogs and are posting them on their own facebook timeline.


Important Info About Sharing on Facebook


When an image is published on the internet, the owner of that image immediately owns copyright.  When a recipe is published the owner of that recipe has copyright protection on the instructions. (See US Copyright Office for Recipe Copyright and US Copyright Office for Image Sharing)

What does the U.S. law state? (Verbiage from U.S. Copyright Office)

Is it legal to download works from peer-to-peer networks and if not, what is the penalty for doing so?
Uploading or downloading works protected by copyright without the authority of the copyright owner is an infringement of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights of reproduction and/or distribution. Anyone found to have infringed a copyrighted work may be liable for statutory damages up to $30,000 for each work infringed and, if willful infringement is proven by the copyright owner, that amount may be increased up to $150,000 for each work infringed. (emphasis mine)

Could I be sued for using somebody else’s work? How about quotes or samples? If you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you.

In all cases, it is the researcher’s obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the Library’s collections.

What does that mean?  Its up to YOU to make sure that the image you have shared on your facebook page is within legal requirements for fair use.  If you share an image that does not belong to you, you are liable.  It dosent matter if you shared it from a page that shared it a zillion times, when it ends up on your wall that responsibility now lies with you.

Lets look at an example shall we?

Example of Stolen Image and Recipe on Facebook Page: Important Info About Sharing on Facebook


This is posted on a popular facebook page called Incredible Recipes.  This page has over 248,000 likes. (as of 12:00pm 3/24/2013-as of 5:36pm the same day the page has grown to 261k likes)

They posted a  Blueberry Cobbler Bars recipe on 3/23/2012  which now has more than 1,000 likes and 775 shares.

This recipe and image were originally published on Cherry Tea Cakes blog on Nov. 17th, 2012.  The Incredible Recipes facebook does not credit Cherry Tea Cakes in any way.  The Incredible Recipes facebook page has copied Cherry Tea Cakes post verbatim; violating copyright law for recipe instructions, violating copyright law for photographic images, and violating  facebook’s Terms of Use.  And this is just one of the thousands they have shared.

UPDATE:  It appears the owner of the site has removed the recipe posted above as well as gone and tried to credit some of the other posts.  However, there are still many posts with full recipes listed and no source.  Hopefully she will go and delete those as well.

Another big offender of late is certain Independent  Sales Consultants*.  These third party affiliates have huge pages (growing by 10k likes a week) are are posting and sharing content daily (if not hourly).  Within the consultant facebook network, images and recipe are being shared tens of thousands of times.  In response to a bloggers inquiry, one Consultant said they knowingly share images from each others walls to increase their page activity.  Its a snowball effect of intellectual property infringement.

When contacted, these independent contractors have responded with arrogance, ignorance, and defiance.  Bloggers (often the creators of the images stolen) are being blocked, banned, and mocked for seeking justice for their work.

I have been keeping documentation of the threats and harassment to myself and fellow bloggers.  Before anyone else threatens me with legal actions please be advised, it is not harassing to point out when someone is infringing upon my work.

*I have removed the specific name of the consultants upon consideration.  Many of the thousands of consultants are law-abiding and using appropriate methods to share, and (rightly) do not want to be labeled as violators.  

Blog Post about Facebook and Copyright Theft

And just to respond to some of the comments that have been made to bloggers:

No, it is not a compliment when someones steals your work.

No, I am not weird because I am not flattered.

Yes, there certainly are more important things in the world to worry about, but I certainly have a right to care about this injustice.

No, its not ‘just a recipe’ and no not everyone can make it and photograph it like I have.

No, its not ok simply because you found it on the internet.  The internet is not “fair game”.


Why is this an issue?

The people who create the images, developed and wrote the recipes own them.  They have often invested time and money into recipe development and photography. They have often posted that information on a website that can generate income. (For example; I have advertisements on my blog, when people visit my site I earn money.)

When sites take images and recipes and post on their facebook page, they are firguratively stealing money out of the pockets of the owners.


What Can You Do?

The best practice is do not post any image to your facebook page (or website) that you did not take or do not own.  If you want to share a post from another page, try to find the facebook page of origin.  This will help ensure that the proper person is getting credit.

Never ever post entire recipes to your page.

When you see a page that is posting recipes and/or images they dont own, dont “like” them.  And if you are feeling even more daring, let them know what the right way to do it is!

Better yet, you can report pages who steal content. (click on the tiny blue drop down arrow, which is typically next to the word message, and then choose Report Page.)

Important Info About Sharing on Facebook

The thing is bloggers like, no love, when you share their work the right way!  When you stop by their facebook page or pinterest page (or any other version of social media) and share their work they are Thankful and Grateful.  You sharing their images and words is part of the reason they do what they do!  When done correctly it will drive traffic and potential new friends to their sites.  This is the greatest compliment you can give a blogger.

What does ‘done correctly’ mean exactly?  Sharing a post directly from the source.  That is what that handy dandy share button is for!


What are “safe” ways to share pictures and recipes?

Make sure you get permission.

Only share from the original source.  Use the options that are in place, such as the “share” button, pin button, retweet, etc.

One facebook page that does an excellent job of sharing correctly is KitchenAid.

Not only do they post a DIRECT LINK to the creators blog post, they TAG the author!  (Liv Life is the author tagged below)

This is the ideal way to share content you do not own.

KitchenAid: An example of the proper way to share content on facebook!

In summary:

You are legally responsible for all content posted on your facebook page.

Be wary of sites that post entire recipes with images. Most reputable sources do not list entire recipes on facebook.

If you find a recipe you like on a questionable page, try googling it. (This is how I found who created the Blueberry Cobbler above)  Then go “like” and “share” from their facebook page.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!  Please do share this post through social media and especially on your facebook page.  The more people that can be made aware of this the better.

HERE is my facebook post if you want to share directly. ;)


Want more info?

Check these great posts:

Recipe Attribution

 Copyright Issues and Why They Cause A Lot of Drama

Can We Talk About Sharing






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  1. everydayathena says

    I’m not sure I agree, but you’ve made me think. If you’re concerned about royalties or credit, why not do what some food bloggers do – post SOME recipes (as a tease) and then offer fans a way to pay for more? I follow the Happy Herbivore, and The Compassionate Cook. I’d love to be able to access ALL of their recipes for free online, but I’m satisfied with the handful that they provide – and then I go buy their books. Wendy Polisi (a quinoa blogger) provides an email ‘teaser’ from time to time and then offers a link to buy more of her recipes online. I’m happy to pay. But if someone is going to put it all out there for free, I’m going to assume that permission has been granted, you know?

  2. Mary says

    On these Facebook pages you talk about, I first look for a link directly to the original recipe, link address, click on it, then I PIN it to my Pinterest board. Then in the future I can go directly to the source for the recipe and give credit to that blogger if I share it on my little, tiny cooking blog. I don’t SHARE because all of my Facebook friends would get bored with all that posting of recipes.

  3. says

    Hi, I’m a distirbutor with SBC. Re recipe sharing: If a site re cooking, baking etc posts recipes and it is on my News Feed stating ‘like’ and ‘Share’ underneath – I then share it on my Timeline or in a Group or on my Fan Page …… is that allowed?
    Most if not all of the recipes I use has got a share option …. or have been posted by ‘Friend’ or fellow distributors – I cannot fathom out the reason for someone be blocked by Fbook if there are ‘share’ options. Thanks. Elize

    • Josh Dyball says

      Did you find out any answers Eliz? I think just like you. If there’s a Share option presented it can’t be illegal or why would FB facilitate it? It must be covered by their T&Cs.

      I’ve just been reprimanded for sharing photos on a Group page on my own Page. I’ve been told I have to get permission from the individual photographers first. It makes no sense.

      I don’t do this when I retweet.

      I’m very confused…

      • says

        If you click the “share” button you are perfectly within your legal rights and most people will actually encourage that type of sharing. If you copy and paste, or download and image that YOU DID NOT TAKE, then you are in violation of a copyright. Even if the picture is of a bug. Or a cake. Or a hotdog. You do not own the image so you cannot distribute it through social media. Your FB Group Administrator is exactly correct.

    • Josh Dyball says

      I should add that I was reprimanded by the FB Group Adminstrator, not FB itself. I’m left feeling perplexed. Jeeze. If you have to ask permission before sharing content on social media surely that’s ridiculous. Imagine all the retweets which would be pending permission first. It wouldn’t work. I’m intrigued by this…

  4. Tiffani says

    Hi, I am a website designer, blogger and also have a Facebook support group. I love sharing recipes and DIY posts, but I also want to make sure I am doing it right and making sure I give the bloggers and authors credit. Thank you so much for sharing this, I will be going into my facebook and double checking to make sure I am doing it right and giving credit to the right people, I know how hard bloggers work :D

  5. Lynn Hamps says

    Very good article and it isn’t just recipes…I design knitting and crochet patterns and although I personally haven’t been ‘ripped off’ (or at least not to my knowledge!) I am astounded at how many Facebookers sell articles made using other peoples patterns without licence or even crediting them, and even worse, blatantly photocopying patterns and offering them for sale. Unfortunately, I feel the problem is so huge now that very few people will get prosecuted, unless they infringe on the rights of huge companies like Disney. Us little people will just have to seethe inwardly.. :(

  6. Diane says

    Recipe sharing has been going on since the dawn of time and if anyone decides to post their copyrighted recipe online and expects it not to be shared… well that’s just naive. Even before FB and the internet a family member or friend would find a great recipe from a cookbook and tell her sisters/friends about it. If she gave credit to the original source I’d be very surprised. In fact I remember wedding shower games where that was actually one of the gifts – a book of recipes from all the guests. Were they all original recipes? Probably not. Recipes are shared, altered and shared again. Trying to copyright individual ones is best left up to the mega corporations who have lots of money and time to try and wrangle that fish back into the bucket.

  7. Erin Mort says

    I personally don’t believe most had the intention to “steal” recipes. It is a matter of not knowing or understanding. When a picture is seen, on a site, by a blogger, one does not know that it is their original work either. It is not as cut and dry as say a piece of music or a book that shows copyright. It would be best if on the part of the blogger, the author of the recipe that they do or print something showing their copyright.

    This article was good and informative and BOTH sides of the equation need to be aware.

    Those who are copying now know better, and those who are blogging, do something to protect your work and prove that is it really your work.

  8. Rg Parker says

    I always heard that Facebook owns anything published on its pages. In looking at their policies — regarding, for example, photos — it says: “When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”
    So that is a warning to everyone if they are putting any content on Facebook with a public setting.

  9. Darlene says

    You’re exactly right, always share photos correctly, don’t copy and post them. I follow a lot of photography sites and Facebook pages that share great photos. But, if I hear people making claims about stolen images on those pages or I suspect that something doesn’t look right, I don’t share the photos unless I know permission has been obtained. I try to only pin or retweet photos through a pin or retweet button.

    Part of the problem is that half to most of the time, I assume the person posting the photo got permission to post or share it. Many photography pages get regular submissions, but many don’t and I can’t tell the difference sometimes.

    Facebook also makes it incredibly easy to steal photos by allowing people to download them. There is no way to block them from doing so. Google plus let’s you block that, but Facebook doesn’t.

    I try to watermark all my photos. I know it’s not foolproof as anyone who really wants that can figure out a way around that. But, it generally stops the casual thief.

  10. says

    Some of your article was a little assuming in that there is only one way to post recipes AND irresponsible in telling people to REPORT posts that are not by your standards. I post some by friends, myself and and colleagues with no link and i hope i don’t get reported on those.

    ALSO, being in advertising for over 35 years, let me share that there are many different food websites with different intentions that yours (affiliate marketing or subscription based?) and they want the notoriety and some, to even share their information as they make money from a diverse direction so getting their name and possible sales to OTHER products with links posted is important, such as a cookbook, and hense, certainly allow posting the whole recipe.

    I have permission from all my vendors and i do advertising and graphics for some in exchange also, and state that in my posts so while it’s important for the world to understand that if they did not create it, stop using it (I SO hate pinterest! what the heck?!) and especially not for commercial promotion, i would ask people to speak to offenders who do not know they are an offender and have been may be misguided in their attempts to share someone ELSE’s post.

    • says

      If you are sharing correctly, an with permission, then there is absolutely no issue. I feel like you may be talking about something different.
      But the law is clear. When you dont have permission you are in the wrong.

  11. says

    Great Post/Explanation! I think most people that follow those annoying facebook pages that steal recipes/photos don’t even realize that the content is stolen.

  12. says

    I was directed to this site after “talking” with a blogger about a recipe I shared on my site. What a GREAT explanation.. I know so many of these violations occur, NOW I know the right way to do a posting! Thank you for the explanation, the insight..
    It is great when we can all benefit each other…THE RIGHT WAY!

  13. says

    It isn’t just recipes being stolen. My husband is a chainsaw carver and has had a difficult time growing his page on facebook. It is so frustrating when someone links me to a page that is sharing his art work, pictures I took and posted with no link back to our page. Last one I found had 9000 shares…that means the credit of that picture has been lost forever. I am in the process of putting his name on every picture, but the ones already in circulation are gone forever. I sent a nice note saying that we appreciated them sharing but please link him to the picture. Instead of going into the post and doing that they made another post saying Bob King, sculptor carved the bench that so many of you were asking about. They also put a credit to my husbands sponsor on the picture. I know it sounds petty, but it pisses me off that I see him working so hard and then someone elses page gets all the likes from his work! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=674927712540176&set=a.482944528405163.119984.482939558405660&type=1&theater I went to comment on the messages people left and got flagged for spamming my own picture. Okay I am done. ~Cindy

  14. says

    Good post! I can remember being terrified when I first started creating my own pages using ye old Angelfire… and worrying so much about giving credit where credit is due. I’ve slacked so much on my personal blog lately, I’d forgotten about how important this is!

    If it’s ok with you, I’d like to link to your blog from my own :)

  15. Danny says

    So if I use a recipe to make something then take a picture and post what I baked do I have to link it to the page I got the recipe from? I do not post the recipe at all I just use it to bake whatever then post my own picture to show friends and family what I made. Thanks

  16. says

    What you have said here is true. However, I have no idea how this could ever be policed or controlled. Facebook has millions of people sharing everything under the sun. So how could it ever be stopped? How could they go after one person and not another? There must be literally billions of copyright infringements on Facebook. I hate it when someone rips my stuff off. But I’ve learned to just ignore it because at this point there isn’t too much that can really be done I don’t think.

  17. says

    If you don’t want it shared, reposted, pinned, and generally spread around the internet, then take the proper precautions. You can display recipes for members only even without charging a fee, with the proper resources. If your members abuse your copyrights you can revoke their membership.

    Otherwise, welcome to Facebook.

    • says

      Thats like saying if you don’t want to get raped don’t wear a skirt. Your logic is flawed, at best. And no ones saying they don’t want content shared. I am saying I don’t want content stolen. Big difference. :)

  18. Charles Watkins says

    I certainly understand your sensitivities and you are correct. There are some positives that can be considered and one is enbroadened exposure. I’ve learned that tastefully attatching credits in fine print beginning with”creation courtf

  19. Rhonda says

    I recently became a SBC distributor and I would like to post healthy recipes to my Facebook timeline. I have been reading posts today of how to rightly post or share others/bloggers recipes. My question is for instance….if I go on a bloggers site and want to post one of their recipes to my timeline, I am to push the share button to my Facebook page because I am not posting the actual recipe ( interested people would be linked back to bloggers site for that) and they are getting the credit for the photo taken also. Is this correct? Additionally, is it ok to say something to the effect of “this is a great recipe to help keep you on track with healthy eating” and then post my SBC website for information about how to order the product I sell?
    One other question: if I prepare the recipe and take my own photo of it and post it along with the link to the bloggers recipe site giving them the traffic and credit for the recipe(and the actual recipe does not appear on my timeline), is this acceptable. Sorry for such a long comment. I am new to this and would like to know its being done right and the correct people get the traffic/credit. Thanks!

  20. Patricia says

    I just wanted to note that I believe whether people credit you for your images or recipes or not, you are still better off financially because most people would not have even known you existed if people on Facebook or Pinterest didn’t share them. Occasionally there are those who do not give you the credit but most of the time they do, so I wouldn’t get upset about those who don’t. I think trying to get the average Facebooker to worry about whether they are posting illegally or not from someone who gave you the credit or not, will eventually turn on you because they may stop altogether. I find that most Bloggers that share recipes only tweek someone else’s recipe a little and then call them their own anyway. Also, some of those Bloggers aren’t really individuals at all. They are bigger groups or businesses that lie and say they are some little housewife with some cute little identity. So to me it’s not worth all the fuss. The Internet is what it is. So smile and just be happy for the money you are making!!

    • says

      Patricia, you are not correct. I am NOT better off financially when someone STEALS MY IMAGE and does NOT credit me in any way. No one has any way of knowing who took the image or where it originated. It is, in fact, money OUT of my pocket. Please understand that this is a much bigger issue than you realize.

  21. says

    How does copyright fit in within facebook GROUPS where sometimes people take a picture of a page in a book, or part of a page, and then ask the rest of the members for help in understanding what is being represented? Does this not fall under “fair use”? Can we do that?


  1. […] Copyright Issues on Facebook – There is this growing trend of Facebook pages popping up that basically copy and paste photos and recipes from popular blogs and give no attribution, basically claiming the photos are theirs and the recipes are “from their family”. This is not right on so many levels and this post does a great job of nailing down why. In short, if you see a Facebook page plagiarizing something from a source you know, please alert they original source so they can handle it. (@ I Am Baker) […]