March 28, 2012

Blogging, copying & copyright: A discussion of copy-cats good & bad and how this all relates to Pinterest

I've had this thought in my mind here and there, and then I dismiss it (like we often do).  But then other things crop up that make me think of it again so now I feel like it's worth discussing.

My thought is this - Is blogging sometimes copying?


I think there are two answers to this question: yes and no.

I am new to the blogging world so maybe I am totally off-base.  That said, I think some things are purely based on principal (and just plain old good manners), so I feel strongly enough about my thoughts here to write them down for all of you to read.

When I ask Is blogging sometimes copying?  And my answer is yes and no.  What I mean is, there is "good" copying and "bad copying".

Good Copying - Think of the adage "Give credit where credit is due".  You find a recipe or something you like on another blog, you write a post about it and (most importantly) you link back to it.  This is one of the things I most love about blogging - the sharing.  Sharing of things other people are doing, making, seeing, trying, exploring and giving them the proper credit by linking back.  It's like advertising for the blogosphere.  I do it for stuff I like and I hope other people share my stuff that they like.  In fact, maybe instead of "good copying" I should be calling it "good sharing".  Either way, a great example of this is Gaby's post on Slutty Brownies made by The Londoner.  Good copying also goes for sharing of photos.  Give a link back and make it clear if it isn't yours.

Now, that said, I suppose there could be a situation where someone shares something that they think sucks.  I have never seen a blogger do this.  I personally choose to not use my blogspace for negative critique and I think this is a common theme among bloggers.  However, my personal opinion is that in blogging, we are putting our opinions, thoughts, likes, feelings (everything) out there - if somebody else thinks it sucks and wants to write about it, they are allowed to do that.  If that person is being responsible, they will also express their feelings to the writer ("hey I tried your recipe and I think it bites") giving you the option to respond; and, if they still feel the need to write about it on their own blog saying why they think it sucks, they should still link back so that their readers can form their own opinion.

Bad Copying - Think of just straight up copying someone else's post or idea and putting it up as your own.  I have seen very little obvious and/or subtle examples of this but either way, I see it happening sometimes, which is a bummer.

fat mum slim who hosts the "photoaday" round ups that I have been participating in, was very obviously copied recently and discusses it here.  I think her post (and attitude) about it is great and I totally agree with what she is saying - especially this part: "...don't steal and create a mediocre version. If you're going to steal, make a hot-diggity, brand spankin' new version with your flavour on it. Make it better. Make it bigger. Be proud of what you create."


That's totally true.  If you see someone doing something cool and you want to use that idea with your own flavor, go for it (personally, I still like to give credit to who I got the idea from too).  But here is a point I'd like to clarify, I don't think that "hot-diggity, brand spankin' new version with your flavor in it" counts if you change one minor, tiny, eentsy little thing....which brings me to example #2.

There is a cake I made and featured on this blog.  I am purposely not being direct in pointing out this copying, but if you really want to, you could find it.  Anyway, I got the cake recipe from a blog and linked back.  But later, I made the cake again, and I found it on a different blog - this blogger was who originally posted about it based on the dates.  The only difference between the recipes was that blogger #2 essentially quadrupled the amount of frosting.  The recipes were identical as was the recipe title and description. 

To me, that is just lame.  If you double something or change 1/4 tsp. to 1/8 tsp., that is not your recipe!!  Granted, it's probably impossible not to sometimes accidentally "copy" someone else's recipe (look what happened to me with the Pumpkin Cookie Caper), especially considering all baked & cooked things that are similar are going to come down to similar ingredients.  BUT, I think there is a clear difference between someone's creation being similar by mistake and someone's copying being just plain obvious.

Anyway, with all of this good copying and bad copying swirling around in my head, I then heard an NPR story about the potential copyright issues of Pinterest.  They interview a blogger named Kristen Kowalski (a lawyer) who wrote a post about just that.  And, wouldn't you know it, I had "Updated Pinterest Terms" in my e-mail the next morning.

Let me start by saying thank you for pooping on our Pinterest party Kristen.  I'm not going to get into all of the legal mumbo-jumbo because that is well, boring.  Instead I'm just going to give you my opinion.  Simply, I think it would be ridiculous for someone to sue a Pinterest user for copyright infringement.  The amount of potential free advertising and/or traffic you could get from people seeing that pin would seem to far out-weigh any benefit you might get by suing.

BUT! (you were expecting that right?).  Pinterest users need to get way better at noting where the pin came from.  One of the biggest bummers for me on Pinterest is when I see something I like and I have to go through some giant chain of pins to figure out where it came from.  Personally I have taken to linking the items I pin right back to the source.  I think the "pinmarklet" is supposed to do this for you, but I don't know that it always works.  I copy/paste the web address right into the comments section of the pin.  DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LAWYER.  Just in case you were wondering.  And, I don't know if the way I use Pinterest will avoid any copyright violations.  I'm just saying what I think, which could be wrong or right.


In the interview, NPR brought up a good question essentially asking - "have the copyright laws kept up with technology?"  Kind of not, it seems....and I wonder, is it even possible when you can simply right click on something and save or post it wherever?

Which brings me to the end.  Just be polite people.  Treat others how you would want to be treated.  Treat others stuff how you would want your stuff treated.  Bad copying is no bueno and in the end, it just makes you look bad.  Even though the blogosphere is huge, it is also kind of small.  Someone, somewhere will notice.  Give credit where credit is due.  Have fun, keep sharing and relax.  Let's enjoy the blogosphere together.

Rant end.



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March 27, 2012

Pinspiration! Recipe Find - Goat Cheese, Lemon, Arugula & Pea Pasta

Pinterest is becoming my new go to spot for recipes.
I think it might be easier to find stuff there than doing a Google search.
Really.

Here is one I came across the other day - 

Goat cheese, lemon arugula and pea pasta 
Yum, right?
I grabbed what I needed and decided to try it out.
The Scoop - This was super easy to make.  It will definitely be a go-to recipe for when I want to make something tasty in a little bit of time.  I also have never thought of throwing peas into the pasta water so this is another idea I'm sure to copy in other recipes.
The Verdict - The pasta was rich and creamy with a nice lemon flavor; the arugula and peas added a nice contrast.  The goat cheese makes a really thick coating on the pasta - I tasted it and immediately said "it's like adult mac and cheese".
The Fix - Not that it really needs fixing, but.  If you're a goat cheese eater you know how thick and creamy it is.  Both The Cyclist & I agreed that this dish would be nicely balanced with the addition of something salty - he said prosciutto, I said spicy turkey sausage; either one will do. Also, I might add a bit of milk to the mix, just to cut the thickness quality of the melted goat cheese.
Mentionables - I'm not sure if adding more lemon might also cut the goat cheese thickness.  I'm also not sure if the lemon flavor would be lost by adding prosciutto or spicy turkey sausage (that would be a shame, the lemon flavor is really good).  A dry white wine would be really good with this.


Here is my finished product...

Bon Appetite!

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March 20, 2012

Wine Snobbery: Can Cheap be Chic?

I was listening to a freakanomics podcast the other day...
(click that link to listen if you'd like to hear it)
The podcast discusses something I've often wondered,
is expensive wine really better than cheap wine?
We are introduced to two men who both put this question to the test.
One, an economist and the other, a food & wine writer.
The podcast made me think of our Fall trip to Calistoga/Napa/Yountville.
We visited Charles Krug.....
Charles Krug has good wine that is still reasonably priced
and cheap wine that still tastes good.
We got a private tour of the cellar...
...it was pretty cool.
We also visited Robert Mondavi.
We enjoyed the views but did not taste.

Then we moseyed.
I've always been suspicious of expensive wine.
Probably mostly because I'm cheap.
That said, although I appreciate that quality ingredients absolutely make a difference in the end result of a recipe, doesn't personal preference count for something too?
Take for example, Opus One.
A single tasting (which we were told is big enough for two) is $50.
Yes.  That would be $50 for one glass taste of wine.

No wonder their digs are so nice.
We didn't taste at Opus One.
And I have to ask, can the wine really be that good?
I mean, seriously.

WTH are they putting in that shiz?  Golden grapes?
(They weren't telling)
We moseyed again.
But first we took a picture just to prove we'd been there.
And then we went to Silver Oak.
We did taste here.
I think it was something like $30 for both of us to taste.
Plus we got two really nice wine glasses to take home. 
Not bad by Napa standards.
Personally, I prefer to taste in the Sierra Foothills,

where tasting is FREE.
Yes, I said free.
Plus, it's slightly closer to home.
So, without ruining the podcast for you, I'll tell you this:
it seems money "taste's" good,
and cheap wine also tastes good (if we don't know it's cheap).
Apparently, if we know wine is expensive, we'll say it tastes better than cheaper wine.
But if we don't know it's expensive, (think blind test), we'll probably pick a cheap wine.
One thing is for sure,
there is not enough wine in the world
to make your husband want to sit and pose for a crap-ton of pictures.
Here is my take:
I've done a blind tasting.  
It was a champagne tasting, actually.
The winner was a $3 bottle of Andre.
Not kidding.
I agree that a lot of people base their "taste" for wine on its price.
I don't agree that pricey is better.
That said, I don't think super cheap is the best either.
Have you ever had a Two Buck Chuck hangover?
Just sayin'.
I think you can get a good bottle of wine for $10-$20.
I also think, it just depends on what you like.
What's gross to me may be delicious to you, right?
So let me share with you my sure-fire method for buying wine.

Pick what's almost gone.
That's right.




If it's almost out, it must be good.
It hasn't failed me yet.

Cheers!
TCW

P.S.  This last winery pictured is Quixote.  It was pretty cool, but you had to have an appointment, so we just wandered around a bit.   It is worth checking out, off the beaten path for sure.






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