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Intellectual property vs Recipe wars- Should recipes be shared with credit to the Source?

Feb 17, 2022

When it comes to an artist, or an author the lines are clear- we very clearly can see the difference between work that has been created by the artist and work that has not been created by them. We are extremely careful not to copy and persons words or work without credit for fear of being sued etc.

However, the lines become blurred when we look at the sharing of recipes online. Recipes at some point or the other have been taken from one source: it is extremely difficult to separate the origin of a recipe from a new creator or a new take on a recipe.  Recently there was uproar on social media when a page had been using content creators, recipes, and pictures with no credit to them whatsoever. Food bloggers reported the page as a violation of their work and many of their followers reported the page until it was taken down.

The person responsible for the page claimed that she was just sharing recipes sent to her and made excuses that her page was to benefit people. Many people unknowingly followed and shared her page until it was highlighted to fellow instagrammers’ by a food blogger.

We need to look at this dilemma from two opposing stances: firstly, what is copyright laws and do recipes even fall under copy right laws? And secondly if people are putting in the effort of typing out recipes, as well as doing recipe checks and trying out new recipes is it not a great disservice to them to simply share their work without any credit or even a simple tag?

Putting the question to our Radio Islam listeners, it seems that there are two dividing camps. Some feel that recipes should be shared with others as no recipe is original. Many were nostalgic in remembering how their nanis and family members took such joy in sharing recipes and allowing others to enjoy their creations as a means of reward.

Some focused on the reward in sharing recipes with love:

Moulana this topic brings back a memories of Aunty Khadija IbrahimShe shared n gave recipes to anyone n everyone.Alhamdulillah, we have so many of her recipes.Allah reward her n grant her Jannatul Firdose.I always use her recipes as I sell masalas from home.She never told me it’s copy right.Sharing is caring”.

Some listeneres  feel hurt that they share but are not reciprocated in the same manner:

“We run a home Industry selling homemade biscuits. The wife and I feel that rozi is from Allah in order to share recipes. On the contrary we wife asked her sis in-law for a recipe of a chicken to make for us at home but was told it’s their secret recipe for her and her husband’s business and refused to share, so my wife got offended. She felt not like she is going to start a business with that recipe as it was to make for us at home”.

Many find themselves being emotionally bullied into sharing recipes for the sake of reward – even when it is their hard earned work and their source of income.

“I dont really know where I stand on this because I once showed how to make and gave a recipe to a family member on something I sell, and she started making and selling the very same thing. And she used the same argument with me that if I share it, I will be rewarded. But overall, I don’t mind sharing any of my other recipes. Also, people shouldn’t really ask others for recipes that are used as a business. I think that’s unethical. Rather if you something buy it from them and support their business. On the other hand, if a recipe is already published then its already out in the public domain so there’s no way you can control the sharing of that. But i also feel we South Africans are a bit stingy when it comes to sharing and we are weak when it comes to relying totally on الله تعٰليٰ for our rizq”.

This topic brought with it many messages that highlights the amount of duas people make for those who have shared their recipes.

“Moulana this topic brings back a memories of Aunty Khadija IbrahimShe shared n gave recipes to anyone n everyone.Alhamdulillah we have so many of her recipes.Allah reward her n grant her Jannatul Firdose.I always use her recipes as I sell masalas from home.She never told me it’s copy right.Sharing is caring”.

“Sharing recipes increases the baraka in one’s life and it will bring more joy and happiness knowing they shared with someone. Everyone’s hand is different if ten people make use the same recipe the taste will be different”. 

Moulana I wouldn’t call it stealing it’s sharing, why would people put their names and recipe’s on social mediaIf you don’t want to share be straight and tell whoever you send it too and it is a secret , tell them please don’t share .It’s simpleMost people have a name at the end of the recipe so if you pass such msgs it’s sharing your recipe with love so be happy, people will make Dua for you”.

 Other listeners felt that there are no ‘original’ recipes:

” If one releases a recipe, then it is for public consumption (excuse the pun).There are no secret recipes. Just undiscovered recipes.If one manages to replicate the best recipe, well done. Recipes shared will help create employment, and may even make that product more famous.My Naani never charged for what the current “secret recipe chefs” built on. So continue that trend”.

But even as we look at it from the point of sharing , reward and benefit – we have to understand that when a person shares their work it is imperative that we share credit and understand that there is a sense of responsibility to credit and never duplicate the work of others as your own.

Content creators do take a lot of time and effort to not only create a recipe but also to document it and, when sharing to social media, to style and photograph it for the benefit of all.  No one minds sharing recipes – that’s the purpose of most food pages – we share recipes.Yes, crediting a person for a recipe if they came up with it, is the right thing to do.  However, the problem is not “recipe wars” – the problem is stealing content!You cannot screenshot pictures from many accounts, copy their captions and recipes and share it as if it’s your own.It’s terrible for someone who spent hours creating that content to see another person share it as if it’s their own – it is unacceptable and unethical.  Also more importantly it is unislamic -it’s stealing and its plagiarism!So whilst we all may forgive and be forgiven for sharing a recipe without credit, no one is going to overlook someone stealing their “content” 

On a lighter note, listeners shared some funny anecdotes about recipe sharing and recipe stealing – quite literally.  

“My ex-sister in law wanted a divorce so came to my mum’s house to fetch her belongings and with that cleared out all my mum’s recipe books …….we still laugh about it cos always discussed that we need to make copies and didn’t get to do it……she went away with it all”.

“On a lighter note,Someone asked a lady for her famous cookie’s recipe.The lady said over my dead body. When the lady died the recipe was written at the back of the tombstone”.


Prime Spot!!!


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