Food Blog Code of Ethics

We hold ourselves to a higher code

Tag: accountability

Photography, Copyright and Attribution

We’ve been trying hard to get to the bottom of the complicated issue of handling photos, other than your own, in the blogosphere. Fortunately, a professor of law at Case Western, Ms. Jacqueline Lipton, PhD, was kind enough to weigh in. Her comments are below, and we’ve amended The Code, to reflect this issue with a simple: We will respect copyright on photos (with a reference to these same notes).

In response to your query, generally it’s wise to always seek permission from the copyright holder if the image in question doesn’t have a license attached describing permissible uses (eg a Creative Commons type license).

Of course, depending on the type of use being made, the reproduction of a photograph without permission could be a “fair use” under the copyright law, particularly if no commercial use is being made of it and it is not interfering with a market for the photograph – which may well be the case on many blogs.  Thus, the otherwise potentially infringing use could be excused under the fair use doctrine.

It is important to recognize that the question of attribution is a separate question to copyright infringement.  While you should always attribute the source of a picture, copyright infringement is a separate question and you can infringe copyright even if you give appropriate attribution.  While many copyright holders will only ask for attribution in return for permission to use the picture, it is NOT a general rule of copyright law that if you give appropriate attribution, you have not infringed copyright.  Copyright law deals with acts of copying or displaying a picture, not how it is attributed.

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The Code

In order to form a more perfect union of food bloggers, we offer this five point code of ethics. We encourage dialogue, participation and insights from other concerned bloggers.

1. We will be accountable

  • We will write about the culinary world with the care of a professional. We will not use the power of our blog as a weapon. We will stand behind our claims. If what we say or show could potentially affect someone’s reputation or livelihood, we will post with the utmost thought and due diligence.
  • We will not hide behind total anonymity. Even if we choose to write anonymously for our own personal or professional safety, we will not post anything that we wouldn’t feel comfortable putting our name on and owning up to.
  • If we review a restaurant, product or culinary resource we will hold ourselves to a standard set of guidelines as offered by the Association of Food Journalists.

2. We will be civil

  • We whole-heartedly believe in freedom of speech, but we also acknowledge that our experiences with food are subjective. We promise to be mindful, regardless of how passionate we are. We will be forthright, but will refrain from personal attacks.

3. We will reveal bias

  • If we are writing about something or someone we are emotionally connected to, we will be up front about it.

4. We will disclose gifts, comps and samples

  • When something is given to us or offered at a deep discount because of our blog, we will disclose that information. As bloggers, most of us do not have the budgets of large publications, and we recognize the value of samples, review copies of books, donated giveaway items and culinary event, but it’s import to disclose freebies to avoid accusations of conflicts of interest.

5. We will follow the rules of good journalism

  • We will not plagiarize or use images from others without attribution. We will research. We will attribute quotes and offer link backs to original sources whenever possible. We will do our best to make sure that the information we are posting about is accurate. We will factcheck. In other words, we will practice good journalism.