What should one look for in the license terms of a crowdsourced recipe website?

  • What should one look for in the license terms of a crowdsourced recipe website? mmcghan

    I'm looking into uploading my recipes to "the cloud" via a crowdsourced-website. I have been trying to understand the ramifications of the licenses and terms of service. As I do not currently have that many truly unique recipes (yet!) my question is somewhat about principle...I just have been increasingly skeptical of lock-in like with Facebook and wanting to "take back my data". So despite wanting to share, I'm skeptical even of something as "innocuous" as a recipe site. (Not as skeptical. But still skeptical. :P)

    My goal is mostly to help vet the information for other people who might be in the same situation, so they can understand what they're getting into. So what I'm mainly interested in is making sure that any sites I join have fair licensing terms. Because websites are always being bought and sold, there is always the chance that I could put a bunch of recipes online and then they might disappear if the site changes hands. Or, I might have to pay to access my own recipes someday if the policy changes.

    Are there any specific things one should be on the look out for in the terms of service? Are there certain things that should be non-negotiable from a user standpoint? Are there things that you cannot reasonably expect any site to have? (I am sure no free site will guarantee they will not go out of business, and compensate you if their web server and your recipes stop being available.)

    Sorry if this is more of a legal/software question than a cooking question. But I thought there might be a fair amount of cooks on here who are also interested in geekery. :)

    (Sidenote: My first try was uploading a few recipes to a site called Key Ingredient: e.g. Lizzie's baked breaded oysters, Howard's kickin' salsa. The site works well and I like to share these recipes from friends with a broader audience than typing them into Microsoft Word. But how do I make sure I don't lose them? What else can go wrong?)

  • The thing about recipes is that they don't seem eligible for copyright, and unless you can demonstrate to a Patent Examiner that your recipe is so unique and not obvious or otherwise derivable by conventional cooking, you probably can't patent it either. That is, you can't really own your recipe, and the food industry flourishes because of it, but a website can own all its content.

    For help searching through a TOS for content ownership in general, ask an attorney, not here.

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