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the ethics of free recipes

As I was perusing this mornng's updated flogs, I stumbled across someone raving about Google Print. (Find it if you are interested, I am not supporting them by making it easy to find them. I'm also not linking to the blog where I found it because I like her writing and this isn't about her.) For those of you unfamiliar with the "service" being offered by Google, it takes the full text of published books and makes them available free online. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Well, it depends on who you are.

See, one of those books is mine. It's still in print, it sells a copy or two every now and then, and I own the copyright. And the entire thing--all 500+ pages of our hard work--is being given away by people who didn't even have the courtesy to ask.

Worse, and heavily laden with irony, is that it was done by a corporation whose slogan was Don't be evil. Uh, sure. Because apparently intellectual property theft is only evil when its theirs.

Information may, as some have said,  "want to be free," but you know what? It's not. The book that Google is so blithely making available for free cost us a few years worth of work by two people, and smaller contributions by many others. That wasn't free; it represents tens of thousands of dollars of time and effort. Is 35-40 bucks really too much to ask in return?

While I think it’s amusing to be able to get your hands on a free recipe here or there, that's it. One or two. I have a policy here that I will reproduce one (or maybe two) recipes from a particular book. Beyond that, I expect that anyone who likes it will buy it and pay the author what they are due.

So what's my point here? (other than venting because I am annoyed) Well, I don't think that I am going to stop anyone from using Google print, and really your ethics are your own. But as a writer, I’d urge you to try one or two recipes then buy the book if you like it enough to use a third recipe. Otherwise, there’s little to differentiate this from any other illegally copied movie or CD. And that much less incentive for writers.

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See something you like and want to use? Drop me a note, kitchenMage(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm pretty agreeable when people ask.
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