First off, I apologize to the regular readers as this post is not the usual food/recipe subject matter (but I’ll get right back to it after this one, I promise). However, for my fellow food bloggers, I just wanted to say yay, Tastespotting is back. Except its different now and in a very fundamental way that was worth discussion before we all hastily get back to submitting our photos. I apologize for the length of this post, but if you’re first instinct is to go and submit photos to Tastespotting again, please take a moment to read this.
As soon as I went to log back into my Tastespotting account, I was presented with new terms and conditions of using their site. Given the mysterious disappearance of the site before and the many odd legal theories that were out there, I thought it would be worthwhile to read these terms (if anything, it might suggest what happened when the site originally disappeared!), and I’m very glad I did, for as long as they remain as they are, I most definitely will not be using Tastespotting, and I imagine a number of you will be doing the same. In short, you will be giving up your copyright ownership of your photos, putting your photos in the public domain!
Below is a portion of a letter I promptly emailed to Tastespotting:
I was absolutely delighted to see Tastespotting is live again, however there was one item in the terms and conditions that truly made this is a deal breaker for me and I’m writing you to ask that you please reconsider (or if I have entirely misinterpreted things, I would greatly appreciate clarification).
I can appreciate the legal need for Tastespotting to have license to display the photos, but I do not understand why I must also forfeit my rights to any stranger on the internet. Many food bloggers experience problems where other food blogs (not just automated spam blogs, but blogs with real people behind them) lift either content, photos, or both, and republish them as their own (e.g. some other blog will write a post on apple pie and use my photo of apple pie as their lead photo as if it were their own photo). I have experienced this with much greater frequency as of late, and my only protection to stop this content theft from happening is the copyright I hold over my photos and the legal rights that I have by owning that copyright.
My understanding of the new terms is that If I were to be using Tastespotting from now on, and I posted a picture of apple pie, any user would have the full legal right to republish that apple pie photo on their own web site as if it were their own…or to do whatever they please with it. Is this is a correct interpretation? This also appears to place the burden on me if users other than myself submit my photos to Tastespotting. I would then have 3rd parties giving the appearance of me relinquishing my copyright (without my permission), resulting in other users mistakenly now seeing that photo as public domain and leaving me to go and correct this with whoever has since re-used my photo.
Given how frustrating this problem is as it exists today, it pains me to voluntarily avoid the Tastespotting community, but forfeiting these rights would be crippling for me and the well being of my site.
So what do you think of this? Will you still be using Tastespotting if your photos are put in the public domain? I’m afraid I won’t–I’ll stick to Foodgawker, FP Daily, and RecipeMuncher, among others (know of any other good ones?). If you used to use the site and won’t be any more, consider contacting Tastespotting to let them know how you feel about this. And please comment below…I’m curious to hear how my fellow food bloggers feel about this.
Anyways, I’ve spoken my peace. Back to food for me…