Over the weekend, product manager and engineer Tom Redman announced on Twitter that he and two friends are launching Recipeasly, a website for those who want to collect recipes online without having to read the recipe maker’s many words. The website, he says, is „your favorite recipes, except without advertising or life stories”.
Within three hours of its announcement Redman tweeted that the new page „struck a chord,” though not the chord he and his co-creators probably hoped for. The amount of cooking bloggers who grapple with lengthy, often personal introductions before sharing a recipe is enough to be sure that their new tool would be useful and welcome. However, Redman was immediately pushed back by critics who immediately pointed out that Recipeasly, as described, was stealing other people’s work. How Food and wine Senior Editor Kat Kinsman tweeted, „Wait, so you’re just stealing content, eliminating context and creator revenue, and cutting down the labor, which is the only way these recipes even exist because you decided the people behind them are annoying?”
Redman argued that Recipeasly had been largely mischaracterized by its own marketing. He tweeted that the site acted as an online recipe box rather than republishing the work of recipe authors, with saved recipes „only being visible to the user who imported them – similar to when a user printed the recipe or copied it into a document” . Twitter users quickly exposed this U-turn, View screenshots of links advertised as newly uploaded to Recipeasly. Redman also claimed that the company’s goal is to give recipe bloggers a new way to generate revenue outside of ads, and possibly later on to a subscription model. It’s a strategy with a historically murky success rate that starts with demonstrating the platforms used by bloggers.
From now on the content of Recipeasly has been replaced by an ology. “We have nothing but respect and admiration for the time, money, and effort it takes to create great recipes and websites. We don’t want to minimize the results for all of this hard work, ”it says. “We realize that we are not showing the great respect we show the formulators. We missed the mark today and we’re sorry. “The website has been removed as the developers are” re-investigating our impact „.
Wait, so are you just stealing content, eliminating context and creator revenue, and cutting down on the labor which is the only way these recipes even exist because you decided the people behind them are annoying?
– Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) March 1, 2021
This p removes a recipe from any overt appreciation from the author who actually spent days, weeks, sometimes months working on the recipe. The „Original” button is not a sufficient assignment. The authors are also not compensated. Just no.
– Lisa Lin (@hellolisalin) February 28, 2021
Lawyers also noted that the website may encounter copyright issues in some countries. British lawyer Mark Blunden said the BBC „Once someone has created a recipe and put it in writing, it is automatically copyrighted like any other literary work.” In the USA Copyright does not protect „a mere listing of ingredients” but „when a recipe or formula is accompanied by an essential literary phrase in the form of a statement or instruction … there may be a basis for copyright protection.” There is also the problem of reproducing photos or illustrations which, according to some bloggers, has been done by Recipeasly without permission.
Eater reached out to the developers at Recipeasly to learn more about how the site works and their thoughts on the brand’s future.
As frustrating as the founders’ goals were, it is also the logical conclusion of an internet culture that has long moaned about scrolling through essays, stories, and paragraph-length top notes to get to a free recipe. If the work is devalued for so long, a technician will come over to „fix” it.
One supporter replied to Redman: They often felt „held hostage” by the blogger’s life story, as if they couldn’t scroll through or move to the next tab at will. The complaint is familiar enough – here’s a person who spends hundreds of words telling a story about their dog or a hike they went on when I just wanted to know how to make lemon bars. These complaints ignore how top notes and stories usually add context and understanding to a recipe, especially if it comes from a culture the user is unfamiliar with. And of course, most of the time the person writing the recipe is a woman, which adds an air of misogyny to the complaint – it’s still an uphill battle to consider housework like cooking and recipe development as worthy work.
Yes, sometimes the previous essay on a recipe is lengthy reflection on the writer’s marriage. Yes, sometimes you don’t really care about the aunt who inspired a vegan goulash. But even then it never was indeed a problem. Most blogs either have a „Jump to Recipe” link at the top or the handy keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F = „Recipe” that will get you where you want. Essays can help bloggers make money from search engine optimization (or SEO, which crawls the essays for keywords and relevant search terms), and ads allow the blog to stay free for readers.
Fortunately, the backlash against Recipeasly shows that more and more people are thinking about creating recipes and creating online content from freelance or freelance bloggers in relation to cherished work. Regardless of which recipe you use, someone took the time to create it, which means they deserve credit and compensation, both of which – accidentally or not – tried to dodge.