HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Get great advice
TELL US

Anne Thornton Axed

t
Treadmill88 Feb 16, 2012 08:57 AM

According to the NY Post this morning:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/th...

Food Network have axed the show, ostensibly for recipe plagiarism.

Not familiar with the show or demise circumstances, but in the 'nothing is new under the sun' vein, it must be tricky for Chefs to come up with 'fresh' recipes all the time.

Interesting.

T88

  1. HillJ Feb 16, 2012 10:53 AM

    The article also states the show had lost viewers and ratings were down.

    But, citing copyright infringement and/or plagiarism blames the host while bad ratings rests on both a host and producers/programming execs. Who's to blame really?

    This grey area of owning an original recipe comes up so often and there are so many examples easily found on food blogs, tv food sites with recipe reprints, new cookbooks among chef personalities especially that what is really legal and what is really followed don't match chef to chef or example to example. This remains a very grey area who's definition should be simple, straight forward and enforced in this day and age.

    1. Withnail42 Feb 16, 2012 08:10 AM

      It must have been something substantial for FN to give her the heave-ho. They don't fire anyone.

      Perhaps the real question will be when will the bring her back and give her another show. Call it the Robert Irvine treatment.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Withnail42
        Coogles Feb 16, 2012 08:37 AM

        "Bakery: Impossible!"?

        1. re: Coogles
          ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 08:40 AM

          Hahaha! Great one, Coogles.

      2. TrishUntrapped Feb 16, 2012 08:10 AM

        I find this very interesting because both Ree Drummond and Paula Deen call recipes "theirs" which have been blatantly taken from other printed sources.

        But then again the Food Network does not treat all their brands equally.

        Josh Adam Garcia (JAG) was axed as a contestant from The Next Food Network Star after it came out he had fudged his military experience. Yet when Robert Irvine was caught doing much more outrageous fudging and lying about his background he was returned to the air after a short stint in the time out corner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: TrishUntrapped
          paulj Feb 16, 2012 09:53 AM

          The source of the recipes could also matter. In Anne's case Martha Steward and Ina are mentioned by name. I'm sure Martha's lawyers could give FN problems if they felt their brand was being infringed upon. And I imagine Ina has a lot more clout with FN execs than Anne.

          Community cookbook compilers don't have the kind of clout. In fact the organization that put out a book in the 1960s might not still exist.

        2. Firegoat Feb 16, 2012 07:45 AM

          Guess they're going to have to axe their Pioneer Woman show as well since her brownies are right out of a popular community cookbook.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Firegoat
            ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 07:49 AM

            But does she disclose that fact? If so, she is covered.

            1. re: ttoommyy
              Firegoat Feb 16, 2012 07:51 AM

              no she does not.

              1. re: Firegoat
                ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 08:03 AM

                Which of her brownie recipes are we speaking about? Just curious. Thanks.

                1. re: ttoommyy
                  Firegoat Feb 16, 2012 08:15 AM

                  I believe she called them her Knock U Naked brownies. Might be slightly off in the name but that is what I recall her calling them.

                  1. re: Firegoat
                    ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 08:25 AM

                    Thanks Firegoat. Although there is no mention on the FN site, I did find this on Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman site:

                    "Several weeks ago, I was gifted with a tin of brownies. To be specific: Killer Brownies from Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton, Ohio. There were four substantially-sized brownies in the tin, and each brownie was coated generously with a sifting of powdered sugar. But they weren’t just any brownies: they were multilayered, with a gorgeous caramel oozing out of the center layer. And the flavor. To die for. I ate them over the period of several days, more despondent with each bite that I was one step closer to being without them. And I didn’t ever want to be without them again.

                    They’re one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

                    While an official recipe for the Killer Brownies is not available, the classic layered brownie recipe known as “Knock You Naked Brownies” is rumored to be a pretty good match.

                    I decided to whip up a batch over the weekend and see if they measured up. I’d never tried them before.

                    It was all in the name of research, of course. "

                    I believe she has covered herself substantially by disclosing this information.

                    1. re: ttoommyy
                      paulj Feb 16, 2012 10:39 AM

                      While Ree's ingredient's list is quit similar to another online one
                      http://www.christmas-cookies.com/reci...
                      her instructions are quite a bit more detailed. That gets around the copyright issue.

          2. njmarshall55 Feb 16, 2012 07:38 AM

            The below is from the US Government copyright office. If recipes cannot be copyrighted, then how can one be accused of "stealing" the information???

            Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.

            Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.

            7 Replies
            1. re: njmarshall55
              ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 07:50 AM

              If the recipes are collected in a volume (a cookbook, say) then all of that material to include the recipes can be copyrighted.

              1. re: ttoommyy
                Savour Feb 16, 2012 07:56 AM

                Only in the sense that the collection is a literary expression. If a cookbook contains recipes for A, B, C and D, a collection of paraphrased recipes for A, B, C and D would be a copyright violation. But paraphrasing the recipe for A is not a copyright violation. And the actual wording of recipes can be copyrighted. However, the "idea" of a recipe can't be copyrighted, even if it's in a cookbook.

                1. re: Savour
                  ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 07:58 AM

                  "But paraphrasing the recipe for A is not a copyright violation."

                  Then how come one must obtain permission to reprint a single recipe as found in a cookbook?

                  1. re: ttoommyy
                    Caitlin McGrath Feb 16, 2012 10:07 AM

                    Because the actual wording as found in a cookbook is copyrighted, so reprinting it without permission is a violation of copyright. But a paraphrase of the recipe reflects the idea of it, rather than the "literary expression" of it, so it's not protected under US copyright law.

                    If you read Chowhound's guidelines for posting recipes from the Home Cooking board, you can see how both ideas are covered (not violating copyrights and legally posting recipes from other sources by paraphrasing): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/406906

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                      ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 10:09 AM

                      I understand that. But if Anne Thornton uses the the recipe and then it gets posted on the FN site without proper acknowledgment, that is copyright infringement.

                      1. re: ttoommyy
                        d
                        DGresh Feb 16, 2012 10:34 AM

                        I don't believe it would be if it were just the ingredients she "copied". And it sounds like none of the ingredient lists were exactly the same in any case. It's the description (which would presumably be in her own words) which could infringe if it is substantially taken from the original.

                        1. re: ttoommyy
                          Savour Feb 23, 2012 05:35 AM

                          There's also copyright infringement under the law and a whole gray area of "ethics" and "industry practices." I've heard that many publications require three changes to a recipe before you can claim "originality", and some people think you should never use anyone else's recipes at all. (I don't believe this actually -- there are only so many ways to skin a cat. Or make a yellow cake. Or a chocolate chip cookie. On my site, I NEVER violate copyright, but I do use others' recipes quite a bit. I make a serious effort to properly attribute though -- saying a recipe was "inspired by" another, or "adapted from" another, or simply attribute it to (but never copy them word for word.)

              2. d
                DGresh Feb 16, 2012 06:09 AM

                Yeah I thought that too when I read about it. I mean, really how many ways are there to make something like chocolate chip cookies. And making a change (maple->strawberry) *is* being creative. What else is a chef going to do? One doesn't start from scratch every time. Everything is a "riff".

                1 Reply
                1. re: DGresh
                  ttoommyy Feb 16, 2012 06:43 AM

                  To call a recipe your own, there has to be a certain percentage of it changed enough to deem it so. I'm really not sure of the particulars. I suspect Anne Thornton was just out and out using others recipes and passing them off as her own.

                2. j
                  jsaimd Feb 16, 2012 05:34 AM

                  I have to say I agree. I don't know the details, but Martha's, Ina's and Hershey's chocolate cake recipes are very similar. I often browse multiple recipes and see many are "eerily" similar, and I often make riffs on recipes that are out there.

                  1. c
                    Claudette Feb 16, 2012 05:15 AM

                    Agreed. I'm not defending her, but there really are only a few ways one can make cream cheese frosting, lemon squares, etc. I bet Martha doesn't create her own original recipes, either. I've "invented" many dessert recipes (ingredient combinations and techniques) only to find them in some cookbook or another.

                    It's also easier to be original (add "riffs") with savory recipes than pastry, which has to follow stricter rules and proportions.

                    Show Hidden Posts