I knew this would happen eventually - blatant copyright violations. Some people think that others' hard work should be FREE to them, and free to everyone. They themselves won't work for free, but expect the work product of others to be free and have no problem even claiming others' work as their own.
After just finding multiple recipes from our Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book posted on the web and blatantly copied right from our book, I am nothing short of very upset. Copyrights mean nothing to some people it seems - which is perhaps why Hollywood and the Recording Industry keep suing people who copy their content on the web.
And, if copyright violation alone were not enough, one particular offender even claimed the recipes were her own creation! I'm sorry, I think NOT! My wife and I worked very hard, and spent years and many, many hours baking countless iterations of our recipes to get them right, and worked on them even to the point where some of our gluten-free cakes won baking contests (against "real" cakes). And now, I have others claiming our work as their own. It hurts. It really does.
We innovated, and poured our passion for excellent desserts into creating these recipes after I discovered I can not eat gluten. I refused to eat desserts that didn't taste like "the real thing" to me. So, after trying other recipes without success (in reaching that "real" status), we went against nearly all accepted "norms" for gluten-free baking at the time when we produced the recipes for our gluten-free desserts book, by first of all removing all *gums* from the recipes. This was almost unheard of prior to our book. We then broke out of the potato-starch and bean-starch mold, decided not to use "flour mixes", and instead treated recipes like any other non-gluten-free recipe (where each recipe uses a custom forumulation of ingredients).
We made use of Sweet Rice, sorghum, amaranth, and even some buckwheat in a few recipes -- things that now seem quite common, perhaps in part due to our contribution to gluten-free baking. We tested the recipes on non-gluten-free people, and entered baking contests with them. We created a book to make these recipes available to other Celiac Disease sufferers and gluten-free and wheat-free individuals, and tried to keep it affordable (especially given that it is full-color throughout, and we only can afford to print a couple thousand books at a time).
We have received many Emails since the release of our Gluten-free desserts book stating how much people appreciate the quality of the recipes and the color photography in the book, and I now have a waiting list for our "next book", which was to be the Gluten-Free Biscotti and Scones book. But, fact is, when people simply post the recipes from our existing book on the web for all others to use freely without purchasing our book, our dessert book sales grind to a near halt. Thus, what is our incentive to create any MORE recipes when our existing ones are being copied without any compensation to us? I had even planned to give the next book away (as an "E-Book") to anyone who purchased our Desserts book. But, why bother? It'll just get posted on the web somewhere, so I might as well post it myself, or better yet, given my current state of mind, I should just stop working on it.
We laid out a fair amount of our own money to produce and print our gluten-free recipe book - not some big "corporation, but WE personally. We have yet to break even on this investment, and with our recipes being copied freely now, we may never do so. We invested our time, money, and determination to "get it right". We sell the books directly, so we know exactly who has and has not purchased them for 90%+ of the books out there, and that makes it even tougher when I see the recipes posted by people that never purchased our book. This makes me wonder how widespread the copying problem is!
I don't know why some people apparently have no problem affecting the livelihood of those that work hard to create great recipes and copyrighted content. And, I now direct these next bullet points at only those that think it fine to post our recipes and copyrighted material online in violation of the DMCA and other existing laws...
I am usually upbeat and try to be helpful to the entire gluten-free community, but at the moment I am distraught and in jeopardy of losing interest in posting information helpful to the Celiac and Gluten-Free community. But, I realize that many of my readers DO value the recipes my wife and I create, and the information we share on this blog, and I would be punishing those not responsible for the copyright issues if I was to just quit my blog and all of this gluten-free writing.
- What price for our book, other than FREE, would be low enough that you would purchase it instead of copying it?
- Do YOU work for free?
- Can I copy YOUR work or steal your assets you worked hard to create, without you gettting upset?
- Is it not enough I post various free recipes on this blog and on my recipe-library page?
- Do you know some good lawyers? I sure hope so, because I do, and my close friend from college is one that just loves helping me out with various "issues".
Perhaps my biggest mistake was thinking that problems like this would not diminish our efforts. But, such is. The world is now a different place than when I was young, and the lessons my parents and grandparents taught me about respecting the work of others is no longer a universal concept - especially when it is so easy for some exploit the Internet for purposes to the contrary.
So, I am in one really screwy state of mind right now, and am on the edge of saying to heck with it all. What can I do? I could start selling my book on Amazon or Borders or such just to get more exposure, but how does that avoid the problem? Sure, Amazon will discount it considerable. Is that all I need to do? Will that stop people from copying the content? Sadly, I fear it would make little difference aside from me selling more books at lower margin (break-even if I was lucky). Or, perhaps I should just sell the full rights to my books and let some big publisher or corporation deal with those who copy content -- ANY PUBLISHERS LISTENING OR READING THIS?... , now is your chance, while my mental state is "off".
Well, another option that I am considering is a simple one: no more printed copies of the book. Those of you with printed copies of my Gluten-Free and Wheat-Free Gourmet Desserts book may end up with collectors' items as the book goes out of print when I sell the last of my current inventory. I can not afford the risk of printing thousands of books to have them sit here as the recipes in the book are posted on the web by those who have no problem with such actions.
Now, to all of you that have purchased our book and have resisted the urge to post the recipes and baking instructions all over the web, THANK YOU!!
And, I realize that even with a money-back guarantee on our book, you all had to "take a chance" with an unknown and find out for yourself that our recipes are really wonderful and are as close to the "real" desserts as any can be. Perhaps if we didn't completely suck at marketing, we'd be out there on the television shows, radio, or whatever, getting the word about our recipes and our book around. But, neither my wife nor I is interested in doing so, and as such, it is just word of mouth we will continue to rely on. So, THANK YOU to all who have spread the word about our book too, while not just copying content!
Finally, in an effort to encourage purchase instead of outright theft via copying, I am considering dropping the price of the book down to where perhaps more will just buy it. I know such a move is in essence, irreversible, like selling through Amazon would be (they would instantly mark the book for 1/2 off). If dropping the price considerably would stop the copying, I would perhaps do so. But, if I do that, my current inventory of (printed) books will be the last - at least the last that *I* have printed, as it will be a money-losing proposition.
Anyone have thoughts on this they want to share? I welcome the input.
If you are interested in buying the book, please, don't order it without telling me what you think is a reasonable price first. I currently list the book for $29.95 + Shipping ($4.50 in USA). If that is, in your opinion, just too much to bear given high gas prices or anything else, just contact me.
Tell me what you think is reasonable, and/or what will prevent people from just copying the book contents on the web. I will give you a coupon-code to use towards a book purchase for your trouble, and with luck, I'll come out knowing whether I can do anything to minimize the copyright infringement activities through pricing / other changes.
Thank you. :)