What Every Facebook User Needs to Know

filed under: Blogging on March 24, 2013

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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  • vickie says:

    Can I ask how to get them off now that they are on? I may have missed it. Believe me, I will not add anything else to my FB page from other sites without going to their facebook page and “Like”. Thank you!

  • Mary Beth says:

    Great information..I will do my best to make sure I’m doing it the correct way from here on..I wish I had read this earlier…Sorry for any one that feels I hurt them in any way…MB

  • sara says:



    Not sure if those links will work, but looks like Thrifty Ideas put a link to your blog but put all your photos in one photo…not cool.

    • Amanda says:

      Thank you for the heads up!

  • Te says:

    I am so guilty of not checking my source when sharing stuff. I see a funny post on my newsfeed & just click the share button. I have never thought to check that the post is from the original creator or that it links back to the owner of the content. Thanks for writing this…..I needed the education. As a photographer you would think I would know better…..

  • Sophia says:

    This is such a great post! Thank you! I own a page on Facebook since 2010, and I go the extra mile to find out who the original source of the material is together with the photographer to credit with all my posts. Not only that, but I also contact the owners to request permission and work on attaching quality descriptions to generate interest. Over the years, my page has been successful and growing at a steady rate. I do admit that there are days when I have been guilty of posting random images without credit, but that is only because I could not find the source. However, I have also been tracking two pages on Facebook that started at about the same time as mine and working in the same category. Both, of these pages have been deliberately violating copyright laws, by continually posting images without credit or mention of the source and by copy and pasting descriptive text right out of other people’s blogs. In fact one of the page owners was caught out right by her readers, when they posted a direct link to the blog she violated. To date, that page has over one million users while the other is reaching the 500,000 milestone. My page has only 1/10th that number. It makes me wonder, do people in general prefer bloggers who turn a blind eye to copyright laws, just so they too can do the same without feeling guilty? I got a violent response back from someone I confronted about downloading images and posting them on their profile without credit to the source. From then on, I just lost a great deal of interest to post and share valuable information on facebook………..

  • Cernovog says:

    Recipes aren’t protected by copyright law. They are indeed fair game. What are you gonna whine about next? Did somebody plagiarize your grocery list? Boo hoo!

  • Cakewhiz says:

    Omg! I love you for posting this Amanda. I share tutorials for cake decorating on my blog and some of those are longggggg tutorials that have taken hours for me to prepapre and it totally pisses me off when i see facebook groups taking all my pictures and making a collage of all the steps and sharing them. I mean, seriously… What the heck?!
    The worst thing i am coming across now is some websites like my pictures and instead of asking me for permission to use them, they are going ahead and stealing my pictures and cropping out my copyright 🙁

    I wish more people would read your post 🙂

  • Cupcakes says:

    It is a shame that you had to!!! excellent post°!

  • 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?

  • Sandra says:

    So as long as I give credit to the right person/blogger, I’m good??

  • 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.

  • Elize Wheeler 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…

      • Amanda 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…

  • 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 😀

  • 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.. 🙁

  • 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.

  • Sandra says:

    Thank You for writing this… I am going to share this to educate people on their flagrant sharing.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • Amanda says:

      Thats not quite the case.

  • 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.

  • Lisa Hainline 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.

    • Amanda 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.

  • Nicole 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.

  • Sandra 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!

  • Don't Pass on Dessert!