As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to diversify my site a little; not much, mind you, but just to adapt it to my evolving interests. One of the things I wanted to do was write a little about the vast quantity of cookery and recipe books I have at home and share them with my readers so to that end, today’s post is going to be my inaugural book review. Before I launch into that though, I thought I’d share something which happened to me recently. I hope that by telling you this that it may help at least one person, or at the very least provide a bit of encouragement to not just “ignore it” when such things happen.
As you may know, last year I started publishing photos from my “adventures”. It was another way of adapting my blog to my interests and sharing my life with my readers. I love sharing my photos and I make them available for (free) download. I don’t watermark my photos. People tell me I should, and I know that many people do, but I just want folks to enjoy the photo I’ve taken in its full, unmodified format. I license my photos on a very fair license – you can do pretty much anything you want – modifications, derivative works, post them anywhere you like – the only thing I ask is that if you do, please credit me. It’s not much to ask, right? Well… you’d think
Periodically I do some random checking to see if my most popular (read: most viewed) images are showing up anywhere else. You can easily do this, and I thoroughly recommend you do. All you have to do is visit Google Image Search. Load your site in a new window – click and hold on the image you want to check and drag it into the search bar in Google. Hopefully, and most likely, the only hits you’ll get are for your own site. You may find that your images are being used somewhere else and unless you’ve given your express permission, or at least a tacit permission by way of a license you might be understandably irked.
I first found one of my images appearing on a Polish tourism site. No credit was given, but even worse was the fact that they weren’t even using a local copy of the image. They were hot-linking directly to the image on my server, meaning everyone viewing this tourism site was using my bandwidth to download the image. This one was easily fixed – I disabled image hot-linking and the photo disappeared from their site since their server was physically unable to load the image any longer. Later I was checking again and found that another photo was being used on an Italian lifestyle site, non-credited, non-attributed. This made me a little more upset. It wasn’t a huge deal, they weren’t making money from it (nor could they – did you know that many photos of Paris by night cannot be sold or licensed for profit as the building illumination is considered a work of art and copyright is held by the French government?) but I thought I should do something – I wouldn’t just let it slide because if I don’t stand up for my rights now then what about the next time; or the next time after that?
I started reading up about my rights concerning my content and was dismayed to discover that the law is a lot less clear on such issues in Europe than it is in the US. For companies and individuals located in the US, you have the ability to serve them with a DMCA takedown notice which has a much higher likelihood of being executed than the EU equivalent. Over here we have the EUCD – the European Union Copyright Directive – which addresses some of the same points as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, in the US. The problem is, Europe is, of course, not one country, and copyright laws and their enforcement differ greatly depending on where you are.
Fortunately on this occasion I had luck – I had some very nice Italian colleagues (thanks guys!) who translated my requests for me, after my initial request in English was ignored and I was in contact with a friendly, rational, webmaster. In the end I did not need to contact his hosting provider but I’m going to detail the steps I took just in case anyone finds it useful.
- Contact the owner/webmaster/editor of the site hosting your image(s). If you’re unable to locate a contact email then, unless it’s a blog from a free service such as wordpress.com or blogger.com, perform a WHOIS Lookup on the domain name and you can usually find contact information in the results.
- Clearly state the page(s) where the image(s) are being displayed, as well as the full image path(s) on their site.
- Clearly state the page(s) where the image(s) are displayed on your site.
- Include a link to your copyright/licensing terms, if relevant, and detail in what capacity your rights are being infringed (for example – my photos are licensed on an Creative Commons Attribution license and I am not being cited as the author of the work on your site”).
- State your desired outcome – depending on how your photos are licensed then this may be “Please immediately remove my copyrighted work from your servers”, although it could be “Please correct this issue and attribute the works to me”.
- State a time frame in which you expect a response – usually 14 days, although sometimes 28 days.
- Make it clear that you will contact their host if they do not respond or comply within the allotted time.
- Wait. If after this time they have not responded or complied with your request then you should contact their host. If their host is located in the US then as far as I know you should be able to file a DMCA takedown notice, although I’m not an expert. If not then I would recommend forwarding your initial email to the host with a note explaining the situation.
I know that at least two of the blogs I follow had some photos posted on a site without their permission recently. Have any of you ever had problems with something like this? How did you handle it? I’d be interested to know!
Anyway, I’m going to stop talking about that now and start writing about this book before you all tire of reading this giant wall of text!
Book Review: What’s a Cook to Do
[amazon_image id="1579653189" link="true" target="_blank" size="medium" ]What’s a Cook to Do?: An Illustrated Guide to 484 Essential Tips, Techniques, and Tricks[/amazon_image]
If you’re anything like me you’ve been cooking for many years, perhaps even since you were a child. For many, over time the simple act of food preparation and consumption has evolved from being simply a chore – something that has to be done in order to feed the family – into a pleasurable act. I take joy in squeezing a ripe peach, breaking the stalk off a mango and smelling the flesh inside, cutting open a loaf of crusty bread or running my hand through a sack of dried beans, squeezing a lemon and arranging rosemary over lamb before grilling it… Living in a country where I have not just the access to such an array of fantastic food, but also the means to be able to afford it all makes me feel incredibly lucky and thankful. With such a vast collection of food available however one can’t be expected to “know it all”. I’ve never had professional kitchen training – how could I possibly be able to do everything, with every ingredient or utensil?
My wife bought me What’s a Cook to Do for Christmas and I was delighted – so pleased in fact that I offered it as one of the prizes in my recent giveaway. James Peterson presents 484 “essential tools, tips, techniques, and tricks” to improve your kitchen and restaurant experience. While the photos I’ve included here are supposed to be humorous, the message behind them is that this book really does cover everything, including how to efficiently and easily peel and slice citrus fruit (and no, it’s not with a hammer!). For example, do you know how to work out if a lobster is male or female? Or do you know the best way to maximise the flavour of shellfish? How about trussing a chicken? Rescuing flavourless fruit? Do you know which herbs should be added before cooking and which should be added after? How to buy, brine, cook, carve and eat a multitude of meats? How to pick the best cheese for your dish? What about choosing the best tin or pan for the recipe?
While some of the tips are definitely already known (please – doesn’t everyone know how to chop a pineapple these days?), the book is a treasure trove of information which does a fantastic job at arming you with knowledge which you might be missing and this has the wonderful benefit of letting you be more adventurous. The next time you go to a store and see that “scary looking shellfish” you can buy it, you can prepare it, you can eat it because you’ll actually know how. You can launch yourself into the making of chocolate mousses with no problems because incorporation techniques of heavy and airy mixtures, as well as how to rescue it if you mess it all up, is all covered.
The writing style is great – Peterson’s easy-reading, confidence-inspiring and approachable writing style goes a long way in making the book the kind of thing that you can easily read cover to cover as you would a novel. It’s like one of those stories where you want to know what’s going to happen next, except in this case you’re just after the next tip, and then the next. Naturally, people won’t agree with everything he has written. Experienced home cooks will, of course, have their own way of doing things, their own preferred recipes, and it would be wrong to just blindly follow everything one person says but I do believe that everyone can take something away from this book, whether you’re a complete novice or much more experienced in the kitchen.
The book is very reasonably priced and makes a perfect gift for any kitchen enthusiast, or just as a treat for yourself, “What’s a Cook to Do” by James Peterson is available from many book stores including Amazon.
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