Welcome to episode 36 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! Today, Bjork is talking with Becky Brown, a lawyer by day and food blogger by night, about copyrights, trademarks, and other legal stuff that surrounds blogging.
Last week, Bjork talked about growing a massive Facebook audience with Stephanie Keeping from Spaceships & Laser Beams. Stephanie has grown her Facebook page from 50k to 500k followers in just one year! To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
What Food Bloggers Need to Know about Copyrights, Trademarks, & Contracts
Becky Brown is an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, and she has been for a rather long time. She started her food blog as a way to document what she did in her free time – namely, cooking!
However, as she got more and more involved with her blog she realized that there were legal implications for some of the things she did online. She also realized that there wasn’t a good resource for bloggers that explained these legalities and helped people navigate through them.
So, she and Liz Vaysman got together and put together an ebook specifically for bloggers that describes everything you need to know about the legalese of blogging in plain, easy-to-understand English. The ebook is called Think Like a Lawyer, Blog Like a Pro and helps bloggers avoid legal pitfalls that can otherwise catch you totally off guard.
As a special bonus, Becky is offering her book, Think Like a Lawyer Blog Like a Pro at a special discount for Food Blogger Pro members! To get the discount, head on over to our Deals page. If you’re not an FBP member, you can still get the ebook on Becky’s website here!
In this great episode, Becky talks about:
- How her “linear interest in her hobby” led her to start a food blog
- What types of intellectual property bloggers have right to
- How she partnered with another legal expert to write the ebook
- How to write your Copyright notice for your blog
- The difference between a copyright and a trademark
- Whether or not recipes are copyright
- How Buzzfeed and HuffPost get away with sharing so much of other peoples’ content
- Whether or not you should legally protect your content
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes:
- My Utensil Crock
- Think Like a Lawyer Blog Like a Pro (members get a discount here)
- My Utensil Crock on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
- Bjork’s Music
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to episode number 36 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey there, everybody. My name is Bjork Ostrom, and you’re listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Today we are talking to Becky Brown from MyUtensilCrock.com. She’s a food blogger, but she also is a lawyer. She, along with another author named Liz Vaysman, has authored a book called “Think Like a Lawyer, Blog Like a Pro.” They talk about all the important things you need to know from a legal perspective when you are building a blog. We’re going to dive into that, we’re going to talk about that, share some examples from Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro, the different paths that we have taken when it comes to copyrights, and trademarks, and things like that. It’s really interesting and really, really important.
Want to say this real quick. As you’re listening, keep an eye out or keep an ear out, I guess, keep your ears open to number one, the podcast, and then number two, any types of actionable items that you’re taking away from the podcast or things that you learned. What you can do is you can go to FoodBloggerPro.com/36 and leave a comment there highlighting the takeaway that you had, or the thing that you learned, or maybe the action step that you’re going to take. What we’ll do is we’ll pick one of those comments, a couple weeks after this podcast wraps up, and we will send a free copy of the eBook to them. All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog. Again that’s FoodBloggerPro.com/36. Keep that mind. Right now we’re going to jump into the interview. Becky, welcome to the podcast.
Becky Brown: Hi, Bjork. Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here, too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s one of those podcasts where from the outside, it might seem kind of like the nitty-gritty detail stuff, but I think that once we get into it, it’ll be really interesting, and I know that it’ll be super, super helpful to talk about some of this legal stuff which is … There’s so much of it, and it changes so quickly, so I think it’ll be really valuable. Before we get into that, I want to rewind, and I want to hear … Some of this is kind of legal stuff because it’s your story, but just in general I’m so curious to know your story because it’s not just the legal side. You also have a food blog. Is that right?
Becky Brown: I do. That is true.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, so tell us a little bit about that.
Becky Brown: Sure, so my name’s Becky Brown, and my blog is My Utensil Crock. I’m a full time attorney, and I work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I advise federal agents on criminal investigations, and I’ve done that for a number of years, pretty much since the Department of Homeland Security started. It is a wonderful and fulfilling job. Love every day. Every day is interesting, every day is scary, and every day is fulfilling.
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like to hear you describe that, it sounds like it could be like a TV show, right …
Becky Brown: Sure.
Bjork Ostrom: … where you have this super intense job, and then you also have a food blog.
Becky Brown: Yeah!
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like those are so interesting. Is part of it, do you feel like they complement each other in that, do you feel like you’re using different parts of your brain or that you’re … ? I feel like it’s complementary in the sense that they’re so different.
Becky Brown: I agree. I’m not sure if it’s different parts of my brain. I think that both are kind of linear activities. We don’t have a lot of chance to be creative at work except for maybe some creative lawyering. There’s no pictures, and there’s no prose, and there’s no designing, and there’s no cooking, which is what I wish I could be doing. I think a lot of it is just my personality. My blog evolved a couple of ways. One way was that I’d go into work on Monday and people would say, “So, what did you do this weekend?” I would think about the weekend, and really the only answer I had was like, “I think I made lunch and some cookies.” I don’t-
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Becky Brown: I have like no …
Bjork Ostrom: Food, right.
Becky Brown: … recollection of anything else that happened this weekend. When I started taking pictures of that food, and really thinking about the recipes, and writing a story about it, and publishing it in a blog post, it kind of turned into this activity. I had a way to account for my time. That’s something I’ve noticed with a lot of my attorney friends, some of my more Type A friends, is that we like to be linear in our hobbies even. It’s hard to just like cooking and to like to make cookies.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious, so when you say linear in your hobbies, what do you mean by that? It’s just a fascinating term.
Becky Brown: It’s just a term I made up today. It’s not enough to just make cookies. I want to be selective about the recipes that I’m making, or try a couple different recipes, or try them out on certain people, or see if that recipe travels well, that kind of thing. Just being …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure.
Becky Brown: … contemplative about it.
Bjork Ostrom: Intentional about it?
Becky Brown: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: It kind of reminds of a friend who’s an engineer that lives in the neighborhood, and he’s really interested in beer, but he created this Excel spreadsheet that he tracks beer with, and it’s like where it’s from, and what he rated it, and things like that. Maybe he’s an example of him being linear with his interest in beer, whereas most people would be like, “I’m just going to try this.”
Becky Brown: Like beer. Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Right? I’d imagine that as you get into it, as you start to explore this a little bit more and you’re like, “Hey, I kind of enjoy this,” you can’t help but have some of your professional background overlap with this hobby. Is that true?
Becky Brown: That is true. At work, I don’t do that much intellectual property work. My agency does a little bit of criminal intellectual property enforcement, but when I was in law school, and both summers when I was in law school, I focused on intellectual property, and I thought that I was going to be a trademark attorney and a copyright attorney. I was of course 23 years old, and it’s been a couple years, but that’s where my initial interest in the law started.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. For those that are way removed from the legal process and don’t really have an understanding of it, intellectual property or you say IP, that’s this really big umbrella. What would some of the things be underneath that that bloggers should be aware of or some things that are important to understand at a high level?
Becky Brown: Sure, so intellectual property, you can think about it as in opposition to real property or things you can touch. That’s creations of the mind. You often hear the three together: copyright, and trademark, and patents. Some other things, trade secrets, other kinds of unfair competition, those general categories.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, got it. That makes so much sense when you define it like that. It’s literally property that is intellectual.
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like so often whenever you have a complicated term, you just flip the words, and that’s an example for this. It’s like, okay, what is intellectual property? It’s things that you own that are intellectual. In the blogging space, we have a lot of those things, right?
Becky Brown: We do.
Bjork Ostrom: Specific to people in the food space, but it goes beyond that, obviously, but what are some things that would be considered intellectual property for somebody that has a food blog, specific down to the different components of a food blog?
Becky Brown: Sure, so the writing that you do would be eligible for copyright. The pictures that you take, whether they’re your pictures you take, or if you’re borrowing them from somebody else, those are intellectual property. The design of the website is something I haven’t gotten too much into, but when you look at the bottom of everyone’s websites, it’ll say copyright, the name of the blog, and then it will say “designed by”, and that means the copyright and the design is reserved by the designer. Those are a couple of the big ones.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, interesting. I feel like this is a legal thing. Do we need to do some type of disclaimer at the beginning?
Becky Brown: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Just so you know, people that are listening, anything that we say or that Becky says will-
Becky Brown: Should not be construed as legal advice.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, yeah, that would be the tagline.
Becky Brown: If you have questions, you should consult an attorney.
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like I should do that at the beginning, but say it really quick like they do in the commercials. Anything we say in the da-da-da should not be da-da-da-da-da-da-da.
Becky Brown: Absolutely.
Bjork Ostrom: Continuing on, one thing’s that’s interesting with intellectual property, and this … We haven’t talked about your book yet, we’ll get to that. One thing that you shared in your book was thinking of intellectual property as really two things. Number one, we’re thinking about, how can we protect the work that we’re doing? I think that’s so important. As we create recipes, or take photographs, or write different essays or things like that, or blog posts, how do we protect that and keep people from copying that and using it for their benefit without doing any work? Then there’s this other piece of, how do we not violate these laws and do something that is on the other side of that coin, like taking somebody else’s intellectual property and using it to our own gain without doing work?
I’d love to dive into each one of those and talk specifically about those different areas: copyrights, trademarks, and things like that. Before we do, I want to talk about your book a little bit. The eBook is called “Think Like a Lawyer, Blog like a Pro,” and I’m curious to know what your process was like with writing that, specifically you did a co-author situation or maybe-
Becky Brown: It was a work for hire, yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. I’d love to hear what that was like. Unrelated to the legal stuff, it would be interesting for people to think about that as a route for writing an e-Book or creating a product. Then the second question with that would be: how do you juggle all this stuff? It sounds like your job is a time intensive job, and you’re also doing your blog, and so I want to talk about that a little bit too before we get super deep into the legal stuff. Can you talk about the book a little bit and what that process was like?
Becky Brown: I am happy to. Somewhere in mid-2014, I’d had my blog for about a year and a half, and I was just thinking about what to do next and how to expand it. I’d had it redesigned by a professional designer and just looking at the next step. I was thinking about, and this is something that you often preach or suggest, that think about what makes you different from other people, what makes you unique. People like what makes you unique. I’m thinking, “Well, I’m an attorney and I have a blog, and so maybe there’s something I can provide that’s kind of down the attorney route, but I know what bloggers might want because I’m a blogger. They don’t want legal tones.” I looked up a couple “What should bloggers know?” on Google, and it was very dense and sometimes with a political agenda, and it wasn’t the type of things that bloggers want to read. Bloggers are used to a certain style, and it was more written for attorneys, so yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is really hard to read …
Becky Brown: It’s really hard.
Bjork Ostrom: … for a non-attorney.
Becky Brown: I agree.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s like oh, man.
Becky Brown: I agree. It’s hard to break it down, and so attorneys don’t even know they’re doing it. They think that it is simple when they’ve written something for the layperson, and then show it to my mom and it’s like it’s not written for the layperson.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, eyes glaze over.
Becky Brown: I was thinking about how to do that. I thought, well maybe I could have a separate section on the law. I’m like, “Well, cooking and law don’t really go hand-in-hand,” but I wanted to do something in bite-size pieces. I knew that I wasn’t able to do it myself, both due to time and due to resources. I can only use my access to legal databases for work purposes, and access to legal databases is incredibly expensive if you aren’t being funded by a law firm or the government. I had a thought to contact my former colleague, Liz Vaysman, who had been an intern at the Department of Homeland Security on my team, and she was no longer there. She had graduated law school and was looking for a job, and I thought that she might have time to do a little bit of contract work.
Attorneys who have graduated, for a brief period of time, have access to legal databases as a good luck finding a job. Great. I was thrilled that she was interested. Liz is very into social media, and she’s very hip. I wanted her to bring the hip to me. I needed a little bit of Liz. I was so excited she was interested and the timing was right, and so she had a lot of good ideas. We worked on it together, if we thought it should be posts for my blog, or if it should be a separate blog that I would start, or if it would be an e-Book or some sort of newsletter, and we talked everything through. We did a contract, which is in the e-Book, and you can take a look at our actual contract. As I looked at the work she did, I was like I have some knowledge of these things. I’m like, “Well, I would say this here. I would say this here. I’d use this example here.”
I was like, “Well, maybe I should just do that. Maybe I should have the legal text written for a layperson and then have my examples, my actual pictures, and comment bubbles that evoke pictures, and hyperlinks, and places to look for more information.” Actually, that’s how attorneys write. In Microsoft Word, we use comment bubbles to note our thoughts, and so I wanted it to be a much more fun Microsoft Word kind of bubble type document, and so it just came together that way.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool. It’s a great relationship because you’re obviously both in the field of you both have a legal practice that you’re doing or legal careers, and for you to bring the perspective of your food blog into it as well and do commenting on the content that Liz is creating. Part of it was I was just interested in that process, but also I’m always wanting to bring up new scenarios or situations that people could apply to what they’re doing. I think this is an example where you said, “I’m going to hire somebody in this field,” and it’s a little bit of overlap with what you do, but she has this specialization in this certain area, and she was able to take that on and really build out this product.
I think so often people that are maybe listening to the podcast think about having to do everything on their own or maybe the in between, being like, “Well, I’m going to hire somebody part time or full time on the team,” but there’s all these different relationships and all these different ways that you can go about, in this case, creating a product. I think that’s a great example of you saying, “I know that there’s a need for this, and I know that realistically I might not have time to take this on myself, so what are the alternative situations that I can approach this with?” This outcome, I think, is a great example of creative thinking to get a product that you know that there’s a need for.
Becky Brown: Thank you. Another angle was that sometimes people worry that they want to have complete control over the product. I’m a control person. I very much wanted to make sure that it fit my audience. I didn’t want to her to hand over ten pages of text to me, say, “Thanks, I’ll forward this on to people.” I think that one thing we did focus on in our contract was that I would have complete creative control, that it was a commissioned work for hire under the copyright law, and I was paying her a certain dollar amount, and she assigned all rights to me. What she negotiated back with me was that her name be associated as “authored by Liz Vaysman” on the cover, and any time I use the text, whether I do excerpts on my blog or do a guest blog for someone, that her name be associated with it. I thought that was certainly fair. It was also important to me that I put a lot of work into it after Liz’s work was done, and so it was important to me that my name be associated with it and that our work be you could tell who had done what. That’s how the formatting was handled the way it is.
Bjork Ostrom: Great, yeah, yep. That’s awesome. One of the things, that second question that I’m curious to know that doesn’t really have to do with the specifics of the book, but I love to hit on this point because I think people are so curious to know, but how do you balance the running a blog, and you’re doing stuff like creating products, and also working full time at what I would assume to be a time intensive job? What does that look like for you, and are there any routines, or habits, or kind of tips and tricks that you’d advise people that are in a similar position?
Becky Brown: Yeah, it was a lot of work. The first tip I would advise is to not set too strict of a deadline for yourself but to still have a deadline for yourself. It was a bit time sensitive in that the law changes, but the law doesn’t change that quickly for some of these areas, and so it took me about a year of editing once I got it back from her to get it exactly where I wanted it. That wasn’t that I came home every day from work and worked on it for an hour and a half, and then had dinner, and walked the dog, and came back to editing. Sometimes I’d put it down for a month or two and come back with a fresh eye to it. As far as balancing all of those things, I will say that there’s only, I was going to say X hours, but there are definitely 24 hours in the day, right? You sleep for some of them, and you work for some of them, and if you’re me you walk your dog for most of the rest of them.
I am single. I don’t have kids or responsibilities that way, so the rest of the time is a balance of seeing friends, seeing family, working on my blog, which is important. You don’t want your blog to get stale while you’re working on a product, but at the same time, you have to pick. Sometimes when it would get dark earlier I would work on writing more, and then because I wouldn’t be able to take daylight pictures. It was just a balance of I’m cooking for ten hours this week, and that will be divided somehow between a blog and an e-Book. I certainly would love to be posting more on my blog, but this was also an important project for me, too.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, cool. I think that clearly stating like, “Hey, we have 24 hours here. Where are they going?” and sitting down and blocking those out is such an important … It’s not easy. It’s simple, right? You divide the hours up and assign them to …
Becky Brown: It seems simple.
Bjork Ostrom: … different areas, but it’s hard to actually do that and get into it, but it’s so important. Let’s talk about the book a little bit. I know that technically this isn’t the exact type of law that you work with, but I think it’ll be good to talk about some of these things on a high level, if nothing else to get people thinking about these things and to be aware of some of these things. One of the things that you had mentioned before that I would love to touch base on is maybe something that’s a simple thing but maybe not. You had talked about this idea of a little copyright at the bottom of websites. What does that mean when you put the year down there, and do you put your blog name? Do you put your personal name? Why do we do that, and what is the purpose of that?
Becky Brown: Sure, so that’s a copyright notice, and copyright notice used to be required under the law until, I think, the late 80s. It’s no longer required, but it is encouraged. There’s a section o the law, in Title 17 of the United States Code, there’s a section 401 that I talk about in my e-Book, if you don’t want to find it online, and it goes through what a copyright notice should have in it to be “notice.” It is the symbol, either the little c in the circle, or the word “copyright,” and we don’t see this one a lot, or the abbreviation C-O-P-R period, and that’s your symbol. The year should be the first publication of the work, but as I say a few times throughout the e-Book, the Copyright Act was written in 1976 and was not written with websites in mind, and so you will see different variations across different websites. I felt for mine that I wanted to protect everything from the first post until the most current post, and so it says, “Copyright 2012 through … ” and then in the code it will update to the current year. I noticed that both Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro only say 2016. Was that a conscious decision?
Bjork Ostrom: It wasn’t, no. This is why we do a podcast, because then we learn these things. What is that protecting you from? What is the copyright ensuring for the content creator?
Becky Brown: Sure, well and then the third part is your name, either your personal name or your company name. The notice is saying, “Hey world, I know my rights on this stuff.” Even though this stuff would be protected without the notice, since the late 80’s you don’t need to have that notice, but it’s saying, “Hey, I know my rights. Don’t take my stuff. Maybe look somewhere else on my page for how you can reuse my stuff.” It’s just providing notice to the world.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Becky Brown: If there is ever a lawsuit, it eliminates innocent infringer defense, which means that people can’t say like, “Oh, I didn’t know that was copyrighted. He just put it on the internet. Who knows? It’s just there for anyone’s use.”
Bjork Ostrom: It’s almost the opposite of a Creative Commons which is saying, “Hey, you can use this openly,” right? There’s all different types of-
Becky Brown: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bjork Ostrom: … Creative Commons, but it’s saying, “Hey, I’m aware of this being stuff that I can copyright, and I’m declaring copyright on it so if you do use it, I can look back to this and say, ‘Actually, I was intentional about saying that I’ve copyrighted this information.’ ” Is that in layman’s terms?
Becky Brown: I think so, and I think that sometimes it’s just written into the code of the theme. For example, mine when she posted it, when my designer showed me what was going to happen, I was like, “Well, wait it needs to be from the first year.” She’s like, “Well, that’s just kind of what’s in the code. I can change the code.” It’s interesting that that’s just kind of is driven that way. I don’t know if it’s different maybe for websites than for blogs, if the content is different, but sometimes you’ll see “all rights reserved.” That’s just the same. That’s not required at all by the law anywhere. That’s just someone saying like, “Don’t touch my stuff. Let’s talk about it.”
Bjork Ostrom: Right, so what’s the difference between a copyright … ? Down at the bottom you see that little either the word copyright or the symbol for copyright and a trademark. How do those two things differ in terms of a blog?
Becky Brown: Okay, so yeah, they’re very different. A copyright is a form of protection that protects the creators of original works of authorship, so your writing, your pictures, if you were to do a dance, any sort of performance, but trademarks are-
Bjork Ostrom: You have me thinking now. What are the different dances that I can copyright, and how can I turn this into a lucrative career?
Becky Brown: Right, or perhaps a song or maybe the little jingle that you play in the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Maybe that’s yours. Maybe you’re doing that on a little drum in your kitchen.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m thinking. You’re giving me ideas here. This is good.
Becky Brown: A trademark is different. Some of our most famous trademarks, the McDonald’s arches, or the Coca-Cola with the swirly line underneath. A trademark’s a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or some combination of those things, that identifies the source of goods. It’s different from copyright. Trademark’s meant to protect the consumer and the public, whereas copyright protects the artist.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting. Why does the trademark protect the consumer?
Becky Brown: It makes sure that you don’t get confused between goods. If you have, again, famous McDonald’s arches, I use an example in my e-Book, but it’s a wonderful example, and if a restaurant opens next door to McDonald’s and puts up McDonald’s arches in front of theirs and calls their restaurant something similar or even different but uses the same arches, the public’s likely to get confused.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Becky Brown: That’s something that Congress has decided is not good.
Bjork Ostrom: There’s also intentional decisions that you need to make as a business owner or as the person that is crafting a brand in order to protect that from somebody else using it. Is that right?
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Would that be another reason why somebody would potentially want to get a trademark?
Becky Brown: I’m not sure I understand the question.
Bjork Ostrom: Let me rephrase it. Let’s say for Pinch of Yum, my assumption was one of the reasons we would want to trademark Pinch of Yum was so that nobody else could come and then use Pinch of Yum as a business name or something like that.
Becky Brown: Yep, that is true.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. This is super high level, but just to clarify, it’s not like we would ever say we’re going to copyright Pinch of Yum as a blog, because the copyright has to be something creative, like it has to be a poem, or a song, or a picture, or an essay …
Becky Brown: Or a blog post.
Bjork Ostrom: … or something like that, a blog post, whereas a trademark is something that is more of a static, ongoing, like a logo or …
Becky Brown: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: … words that are used together. Okay, great.
Becky Brown: It shows origin. It shows this is Pinch of Yum stuff, and then Pinch of Yum could make mugs that have the Pinch of Yum logo on them.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Okay, great. Should people be copyrighting their blog posts? Should they be going through and doing this? Should people be trademarking their brand names? What’s the approach that you suggest people take?
Becky Brown: These are all good questions, and again, this is not to be construed as legal advice …
Bjork Ostrom: That’s good, yeah.
Becky Brown: … but as far as copyright, copyright attaches as soon as you fix your work in a medium. As soon as you type something and put it on the internet for people to see, some copyright protection’s attached. Whether you want to register that copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office and get additional protections is a choice that is up to you. You can actually call the Copyright Office. They have a hotline. If you go to copyright.gov, you can find their phone number, and you can ask them about your specific situation. They aren’t very set up to copyright blog posts and blogs you can always be changing, but they’re willing to roll with it, and see what happens, and help you as much as they can. I personally have not made the decision to register a copyright for my blog. Some of it is intentional. Some of it is unintentional.
I’m still in the process of updating my older posts to have the easy recipe format, and I’m just not in a place where I want to go ahead and do that, but I did file for a registration for copyright for my e-Book. That was something important to me. Copyrights are relatively inexpensive. They’re between thirty-five and fifty-five dollars per registration. You can register more than one work at once, but trademarks are much more expensive to register, and you might for that reason want to be more deliberate about it. If you’re not really worried about somebody using your brand name or logo, then maybe wait until you’re a bit more popular, but if you’re at the point where you’re publishing cookbooks and you have products, it’s something to think about.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we waited, I would say it was probably, I would have to check, it was two or three years before we did any type of trademark for Pinch of Yum. It was maybe a little bit longer than we should have waited, and I think we paid somewhere in the range of fifteen-hundred dollars for both the name as well as the logo, and you can trademark both. Is that right? It’d be-
Becky Brown: That is right.
Bjork Ostrom: If you do the name, that doesn’t include the logo, and if you do the logo, it doesn’t necessarily include the name. Is that right?
Becky Brown: I would think it wouldn’t necessarily include the name, but I would think it’d depend …
Bjork Ostrom: It helps.
Becky Brown: … how it’s used. Yeah, I think it helps.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, great. We’ve never done any copyrighting for Pinch of Yum, but even you saying that for the e-Book you did it, it’s like we should really do that for … Lindsay has a food photography e-Book, and it would make sense.
Becky Brown: Yeah, that’s relatively easy. It took me maybe fifteen minutes online.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and I did that. In college I recorded a CD and did singer/songwriter type stuff, and so I just had a five song EP, but with all of the songs and then the EP itself, I copyrighted that. It’s like I didn’t even think of that for this, and maybe it’s because-
Becky Brown: You did have a performance.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right! Yeah, exactly. It’s interesting because I think sometimes when it’s a digital thing, you don’t necessarily think about taking it offline and going through that process of securing it as intellectual property, but it’s a good reminder.
Becky Brown: Frankly, it’s easy to do. You can attach the file online, and it’s easier than having a hard copy.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure. If it was a PDF, you could upload it.
Becky Brown: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: If people are going to do that, let’s say they have an e-Book and they want to copyright their e-Book, is that online that they can just go and go through the process of doing that? You said it took fifteen minutes, half an …
Becky Brown: Yep.
Bjork Ostrom: … hour. Where would people do that?
Becky Brown: At copyright.gov.
Bjork Ostrom: Okay, sweet. It’s a great URL. Makes sense. That’s copyright, trademark. Copyright’s a little bit more affordable. It’s a little bit quicker to do. The trademark process is going to be a little bit more expensive and a little bit more time consuming. Is that right?
Becky Brown: It’s much more involved, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Why is that?
Becky Brown: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know why. The reason it’s more expensive is that it’s, depending on how you do it, between two and three hundred dollars per class of goods, and you might have more than one, per mark per class of goods. I went onto the uspto.gov website and searched their trademark database for Pinch of Yum to see if you had any trademarks, and I see that you registered two marks, sorry, the stylized picture and then just the term “Pinch of Yum” for this international Class 41, and then the subclass is online journals, namely blogs featuring recipes, cooking tips, and related information. That sounds very specific. Let’s say you wanted to start selling aprons that said Pinch of Yum on them, or you wanted to start selling bottled water that said Pinch of Yum on it, you’d have to figure out which different classes those items fell into.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting, right.
Becky Brown: Then it’d be another two to three hundred dollars for each of those classes. There’s forty-five classes total. I think about thirty-five of them are actual goods, and then about ten of them are services, but there are things like … The relevant ones for cooking, for food bloggers, would be household or kitchen utensils and then printed matter or stationery. Maybe you want to make some notepads. There’s four categories for food. There’s a category for clothing. It can get very expensive.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure, and that makes sense, and I had never realized that. Let’s say that you’re taking your brand and, like you said, maybe putting it on an apron. Suddenly it’s not the same category that you’re applying for a trademark in, so you’d have to say essentially we’re creating a new business pursuit, and that is in the pursuit of physical goods. Then you’d have to go through the trademark process again for that. Is that in general what you mean?
Becky Brown: Yeah, I think so. Then the reason it takes so long is that it’s the U.S. government, but there’s just a process. It takes a couple months for your application to get into the queue, and then it takes the examiner a while to review it, and then they have to publish it in, I think it’s called, The Official Gazette or The Gazette, and that’s then published online for anybody in the world to say, “Wait, no. That’s my trademark,” or “Wait, that’s really similar to my name for my company. You can’t do that. I have PinchofFun.com. You can’t have PinchofYum.com.”
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and then we’d have a battle. Fun versus yum, who’s going to win?
Becky Brown: Right, and they do. You battle. You have up and back letters to the USPTO about who’s right. Each of those things takes three to six months, so …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and it’s-
Becky Brown: … it looks like …
Bjork Ostrom: In your book, you had mentioned with some businesses, they just have an entire branch that watch these applications …
Becky Brown: They outsource that to …
Bjork Ostrom: … and then refute.
Becky Brown: … other parties.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I would imagine companies like Apple or McDonald’s, if anybody applies for a McYum, they’d be like, “That’s-
Becky Brown: It’s easier now than it used to be. I’m making myself sound so old, but when I looked at a law firm in the summer of 2001, The Gazette was a paper document, and people would thumb through it and look for their marks. It’s probably a bit easier to search now.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that I was interested in that you had talked a little bit about in your book, and I think will really apply to the people that are listening to this, is the idea of copyrighting recipes. I know that it’s something that people have a lot of questions about, but it seems like there’s some relatively clear guidelines around recipes and what’s can be copyrighted and what can’t be. What is the general understanding of recipes and copyrights?
Becky Brown: General understanding is that recipes cannot be copyrighted. When you think about it, that’s sad, right, when you think about …
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Becky Brown: … this is something I’ve spent so long on, but when you think about it, it makes sense. As much as you think you’re inventing something, everything is based on something else, and we don’t want to lock down all of cooking, like you can never make that reci- … Then can you not make the recipe because somebody has a copyright on it? It does make a bit of sense, but the Copyright Office understands that recipes are a big deal, and the blogging lobby is strong, and they do say that there is a substantial literary expression attached to a recipe that it’s more likely to garner an official registration.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you clarify what you mean by that?
Becky Brown: A substantial literary expression?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Becky Brown: Yeah, so writing about it, and talking about it, and talking about where you had this kale salad first, and who you served it to, and how you really massage kale leaves, and what kinds of kale you would use, rather than just saying two cups of kale mixed with dressing.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. The idea being, this is obviously not legal terms around it, but the more personality that you can put into it and the more … Similar to you can’t copyright three chords of a song, but if you put a melody and lyrics around it, then it becomes your own, and the same-
Becky Brown: Right, the more creative you are. The law rewards creativity.
Bjork Ostrom: Obviously there is a lot of interpretation that goes into that, but in general, the more that you can actually create something unique, which again is a term that people could say, “Well, what is unique and what isn’t?” General idea being the more that you can put yourself into it and the more creative you can get and unique with it that the more potential you could have to own that, not that you’re owning the ingredients, but the essentially what surrounds that.
Becky Brown: Sure, and when you’re writing the steps of a recipe, if you put a little bit more personality into those and stop for an aside of what those things mean in the steps rather than just saying “stir,” those kinds of things.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Let’s say that two sides, one would be, what would your recommendation be to somebody that wants to, like if they see a recipe they really like that, they say, “I think I might use something like this for my blog”? From a legal perspective, what would that look like in terms of moving forward on that?
Becky Brown: From a legal perspective, and really from a practical perspective, if you are being inspired by something else, you should just say, “This was inspired by something else,” and link to it. People generally don’t get upset when you give them some credit. Everyone knows that you did not make up that recipe for cookies all on your own in your kitchen. It probably came from something, whether it’s ten years of making cookies from the same recipe, it came from something. It’s funny because when I was in law school, back in my day, intellectual property was different. Everyone locked everything down. No one wanted to share anything, and it was all about protecting, and the tides have turned. Now it’s about sharing and how to share appropriately. As long as you give credit where credit’s due …
A lot of people on their blogs say, “Please don’t use my things without asking.” That’s not practical, because people aren’t going to be able to respond to the emails that they get, and people just aren’t going to ask. As long as you are reasonable and link back to where you got the idea from, even if you changed a couple things, it was still inspired by that recipe. That’s the best path to take, and it’s really the easiest path to take to avoid angering someone needlessly.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. One of the things that we talk about occasionally on the podcast and in blog posts and things like that, but just how beneficial that can be from a blog-building standpoint. I think it’s a little bit counterintuitive, but the idea being the more intentional that you can be about smart sharing of your content, not necessarily somebody just scraping an entire blog post and then rebuilding that on another site, but maybe using a photo or maybe using a set of ingredients that you use and then doing their own instructions around it or something like that.
Becky Brown: Right, and blogging is such a community. People want to know where you’re getting your inspiration from. They want to run in the same circles. I said this in my e-Book, too. No one has ever looked at when somebody uses a reference or a citation and been like, “Oh, that person’s so lazy. They didn’t even do their own work.” No one’s ever done that. They’re impressed that you’re citing to where you got things from.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, absolutely.
Becky Brown: Just credit where credit’s due.
Bjork Ostrom: That ties into one of the things that you talked about in the e-Book where some of the recipes that you have from your blog were featured on BuzzFeed and Huffington Post.
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: I’m curious. Technically, was what they were doing, was that legal? Obviously you want to happen. You want people to share content. BuzzFeed and Huffington Post a little bit, those are such interesting business models for me because …
Becky Brown: I know.
Bjork Ostrom: … they use other people’s content …
Becky Brown: I know.
Bjork Ostrom: … all the time.
Becky Brown: I know.
Bjork Ostrom: Is that technically legal? Is it gray area?
Becky Brown: Sure, no, it’s legal. I put my things on the internet because I want them to be shared. I think that people who put their things on the internet kind of have no right to be upset when someone shares them. You can try to use digital rights management to lock down pictures and not allow them to be copied, but people can still take screenshots and crop them, so I think it’s kind of practically if it’s out there, it’s out there. Those two companies always put credit where credit’s due, and people love it because they want traffic to come to their blogs. It’s less appreciated if they were to just take the pictures and not link back and say, “We found these pictures. Aren’t they wonderful?” As long as they’re linking back, I think it’s legal. There’s a concept in copyright called “fair use” of you can use certain portions of certain things for certain purposes. Just generally, no one’s going to ask BuzzFeed or Huffington Post to cease and desist and to stop using their pictures. The point is to get picked up by BuzzFeed and Huffington Post.
Bjork Ostrom: Also, it’s interesting for me to think about, there’s probably a sliding scale with that where, like I said before, if somebody were to use … I think even for Pinch of Yum, if somebody used an image along with the ingredients along with the complete instruction list, at that point we’d be like, “That has the potential to create,” whatever, “SEO competition,” or something like that. It’s interesting how there’s a little bit of balance between you can use some of the content that I have up to a certain point. Have you ever heard of somebody, in an example of BuzzFeed, let’s say, following up and filing a lawsuit against them, saying, “Hey-
Becky Brown: I haven’t personally heard of that. That might be why, when BuzzFeed and Huffington Post do their lists, do their compilation posts, they don’t say very much. They might say one thing, like, “Check out these brownies.” They don’t talk about it, and it might be that that’s how they keep themselves on that side of the law is just saying, “Here’s a picture. People only want to look at pictures anyway. Here’s your link,” rather than trying to say like, “Oh, here’s what Becky says about these brownies, in not so many words.” I haven’t personally heard of that.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s interesting. Just to be clear on it, our stance on it is, I think this would be on the FAQ page for Pinch of Yum, but we’re really open about hey, you can use any type of image as long as you know, right …
Becky Brown: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: … as long as you link back to the site. I think what we ask for is technically a link to the homepage as well as the recipe page itself. That doesn’t …
Becky Brown: Do you think that happens?
Bjork Ostrom: … always happen.
Becky Brown: I would think that we’re almost at the point that if a judge had to decide something like this, a judge would be like, “Of course you can borrow someone’s picture and link back to their page. That is what blogging is right now.” That’s interesting that you … You bring up an interesting concept of policing the things that you say people can do. You say, “You can link back to the posts where that came from, but please also link to our homepage,” and if they don’t, have you ever followed up and said, “Hey, remember this line? Can you-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, we do all the time.
Becky Brown: People do it?
Bjork Ostrom: There’s two scenarios where it’s either somebody that has an individual-run blog or blog that they’re doing, and they’re like, “Oh my gosh. Yeah, of course. Sorry I didn’t do that,” or it’s massive machine that is scraping content. In those cases, usually what we do is we file a DMCA, like a take-down request, but that would be in the extreme example where it’s obviously somebody malicious scraping content and using that to try and gain traffic from …
Becky Brown: I would think-
Bjork Ostrom: … as opposed to somebody genuinely sharing something like, “Oh my gosh, I loved this recipe. You should check it out,” versus creating a site of other people’s content so they don’t have to do the work.
Becky Brown: I would think that anybody who does not have malicious intent would be happy to do whatever Pinch of Yum asked them to do.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, right.
Becky Brown: Right?
Bjork Ostrom: For sure. That’s our stance on it. It’s, like I said, a strategic advantage for us in that we’re able to go to the link profile and there’s SEO benefits and just general traffic benefits as well. It’s really interesting to talk to you about that. What’s so interesting is how quickly things change. Ten, especially twenty, years ago this wouldn’t have been a conversation we’re having, but now it’s like, what are the rules? What is mine, and what can people use, and what can people share? It continues to evolve as things get easier to share and as more people …
Becky Brown: I don’t-
Bjork Ostrom: … are sharing.
Becky Brown: I don’t blame the copyright code for not updating any quicker, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, it’s like-
Becky Brown: Things are just changing too quickly.
Bjork Ostrom: Right, yeah, and as soon as they update it, it’s potentially out of date, so very interesting. One of the things I wanted to hit on here that I think would be interesting for people to hear, maybe us share our story a little bit, but also to hear your opinion or thoughts on it is the process. When should people do these certain things? We both talked about copyrighting, and we don’t do any intentional copyrights for blog posts, other than the stuff that already exists by us just publishing that. We’re not printing off a PDF and uploading that, but we should for the e-Book. That was a good reminder for us. We did do a trademark two to three years after we started Pinch of Yum. We haven’t done one for Food Blogger Pro. I haven’t followed up.
Becky Brown: I was looking at that, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: We probably should at this point because we have the ability to do it in terms of revenue coming in. Before it was like I just couldn’t justify spending fifteen-hundred dollars to-
Becky Brown: No, it’s-
Bjork Ostrom: … do that, so I waited. It was also not necessarily a name where I was like, “I’m going to hold onto this until the last minute. I’m just going to grip so tight to this.” If somebody was like, “Well, we have a company called Blogger Pro, and you need to change it … ”
Becky Brown: Blogger Food Pro.
Bjork Ostrom: … I would be like okay, we’ll maybe think of something creative that we can change to, but at this point we probably should. This is a long lead in to my question of, what would your recommendation be for somebody, if they’re just getting started out, what would you say, like what are the trigger points for taking action on some of these intellectual property pursuits, like copyrights or trademarks, things like that?
Becky Brown: Yeah, so I think that trademark’s probably an easier answer. I think that for trademark, my view is that you might want to wait until you’re a business, until you can identify yourself as a business. Listen, you might have organized as a business technically before, but when you’re making business money and you’re worried about people stealing things from your business and trying to protect your business. Like you said, it might cost upwards of a thousand dollars or more to get a trademark through, and then you’re going to want to police it. What are you going to do if someone uses your mark? Are you going to have a lawyer go after them? If not, the law frowns upon people who have marks and don’t police them, so how much energy are you going to put into it? Also, are you going to redesign? When the graphic designer designed my logo, it was nice. I wanted a little picture of a utensil crock, but I wasn’t ready to stamp it in gold and say, “This is worth a thousand dollars and put it on a little pedestal.” It’s fine.
I might redo it at some point. It’s something right now. If I redid something, it might look … I’ve used the example in the e-Book of the NBC peacock logo. They’ve had like fifteen peacocks over the years, different styles with the times. Maybe I’ll update My Utensil Crock to be a little bit trendier, or maybe I’ll do something to it. Maybe I’ll change the name for My Utensil Crock. You want to wait until you’re in a place, like you mentioned with Food Blogger Pro, to be like, “Yes, I’m committing. This is what I want.” Of course you can always change. I was listening to the podcast from the woman who changed from The Law Student’s Wife to Well Plated. I don’t know if she trademarked things before. She probably didn’t, but she was married to a law student. She might have. That’s an expensive little change to make if you’ve already trademarked something. My advice on trademarking is to wait until you’re a business and making business decisions.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Becky Brown: Copyrights are a little bit different. You do get some protection in the law just by virtue of posting things on the internet. Of course using the notice at the bottom of the page is useful, or people use watermarks in their pictures. You can do that, too. As far as copyrights, unless you’re going to go after someone for copyright infringement, I don’t see a huge value to copyrighting your whole blog. If you’ve got maybe viral posts or posts that are starting or you’re noticing that, you used the term scraped, they’re being scraped a bit more, maybe those particular posts you want to register, or if you’ve got certain pictures. Maybe you’re selling certain pictures. Every once in a while in a food blog you see that you can print off some of their pictures and pay them for some of their prints. If you’re selling your photos, that might be something you want to protect. You’re making money off them. You might want to protect them a bit more. Generally in the scheme of blogging, I would think before you spend money on things, you should be making money on things.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure, yeah, I think that’s great advice. That was the exact path that we took with Pinch of Yum. I think it was something that we had thought about before, but it was like, “Well, I don’t think we can necessarily justify this until we can take money from the business that we have created to then protect the business that we have created.” I suppose the outlier would be if you have something that is extremely unique in terms of its name or right from the get-go you know that you’re going to build it as a brand or a startup, as opposed to a blog which is very organic and usually relatively slow in how it’s built.
Becky Brown: I also listen to the Inspire Our Lives podcast. If your point is to come out with a product, then you want to start protecting your brand immediately.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, exactly. That’s a great example. Great, well that’s super helpful. Appreciate the insight on that. There’s actually one more thing that I want to hit on here, and that’s something that I know both for Lindsay and I we’re always like, “No, we’re at this point, but we have to read the contract,” or worse, we have to write the contract.
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: This is becoming more and more common, especially as bloggers get into relationships with brands where they’re doing sponsored content. When it comes to contracts, what would your recommendation be for people that are getting into it? Would you say like, “Hey, you need to read it top to bottom?” Then should people come back with suggestions for like, “Hey, I think this should be changed”? Are there things that people should always keep an eye out for with contracts? I’m like the furthest from a contract pro, so can you give us advice around that?
Becky Brown: Contracts are not something to be scared of. Contracts are just writing down the things that both parties are going to do to get to where both parties want to be, right?
Bjork Ostrom: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Becky Brown: You both should have input into the contract. Now, in reality, there’s usually a big fish and a little fish, and the little fish is like, “Whatever you want, Big Fish. I will give you whatever you want.” It’s sometimes difficult to negotiate, but they’re entering into a contract with you because they want to work with you, and so you do have some room to negotiate. By the time you get to having a contract for something, you’re kind of at that point where you’re a business making money, and it might make sense to have an attorney look at the contracts. I know that no one wants to hear that, but there might be things in contracts that you’re just not thinking about or that maybe the other party isn’t thinking about. I signed a contract. I taught cooking classes.
The cooking class location had seen my blog, and they were downtown D.C, and they wanted to know if I could do some cooking classes there, and I was super flattered and excited. I looked at the contract, and I was like, “Well, this is like a form contract from a different company. You borrowed it from someone.” They updated some words but not all of the words. I’m like, “What is this concept?” They’re like, “Oh, that’s not for you.” I’m like, “Well, then wha- … ?” Sometimes even the big fish don’t want to look at contracts either. You should look at the contract. You should see what you’re being asked to do. You should see what your responsibilities are. You should see what their responsibilities are. You’re probably going to be concerned about payment. Skip to the payment section. See who’s paying who, how much, and when. It really depends what the contract’s for.
One thing that’s interesting is that contracts are governed by state law, and you can pick the state law by contract as long as somebody has an access to that state. When Liz, the author of the text of the e-Book, and I wrote our contract, we both lived in Washington, D.C. We’re like, “Oh, Washington, D.C.” Then after she found a job, she moved to Philadelphia, and okay, well the contract says it’s governed by the laws of Washington, D.C. Unless you change that in writing, that’s what it is. If you’re contracting with somebody across the country and things are governed by certain state law, you might want to think about the fact that if you do get into a kind of mediation situation that you might be dealing with courts across the country. Just something to think about.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, for sure. It’s interesting because we have some friends that work often with sponsored content and brands, and a lot of times it’s across state and all different types of contracts and stuff. One of the things that we’ve heard from a few different people is be sure to look at the ownership of the content that is created, and I thought that was such a interesting piece of feedback where some of the companies will say, “You create this content and then we own it.” Also potential for that to be ownership beyond just the content. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, because I don’t know what the contract looked like, but it was almost like, “We own this, and we can also use other stuff.”
Becky Brown: Anything you ever say about bananas we own.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and there’s also a situation where Lindsay was looking at a contract to do, it was a video as well as a recipe and also photos, but then there was a line that said like, “We also have the rights to use your essence,” or something like that, which we’re like, “What does that mean?”
Becky Brown: The essence of Lindsay?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah.
Becky Brown: What is that?
Bjork Ostrom: Essentially it was like, “We can use you and your brand in-
Becky Brown: Your persona, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, your persona. Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe it wasn’t essence. I wish it was essence because that sounds more mystical.
Becky Brown: They might use terms like that to make you not think about it being your persona. They might use terms that maybe you’d miss if you were looking quickly and didn’t have an attorney look at it, not on purpose, but just to sweep it under the rug a little bit. You want to be clear. If you’re talking about doing sponsored content for somebody on your blog, you want to be clear if it’s a work made for hire what they’re going to be doing with that, who owns a copyright in it, do you have any claim to that copyright. They’re going to have attorneys that know all of these things, and you should have an attorney that knows these things, too. It might not seem worth it to hire an attorney for, I don’t know, what’s an attorney to look at this kind of contract, two, three hundred dollars if you’re-
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, expensive.
Becky Brown: … how much you’re getting from this post. Maybe if you get an attorney one time, then you’ll know what to generally look for, if you just talk to somebody generally just to have a little bit of that insight.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s say that we were entering into some type of relationship, or maybe you can use the example of the e-Book and writing that. What are the really big pieces that we should make sure to include in the contract, just to make sure, “Hey, we’re entering into a relationship. We want to be on the same page with these things”? What are those high level things that people should be sure to include?
Becky Brown: Sure. It was really interesting. Because Liz was the independent contractor, she drafted the contract, and she brought a lot of things to me that I was like, “Oh, I would not have thought about that at all.” Been an attorney for fifteen years, had no idea, did not think about that. Then I had some things that she wasn’t really thinking about, because we all have our own interests in mind.
Bjork Ostrom: For sure.
Becky Brown: Right, so you want to be very clear on what the work is and what you’re doing, which is interesting because for the e-Book we weren’t really clear. She was going to write a certain amount of content, and if it was less than that, maybe okay, and if it was more than that, maybe okay. We both had this general feeling that something that looks like eight to ten blog posts should be what she was doing. I didn’t want her to make up something just to fulfill it up to ten. I didn’t want her to make something up, but we wanted a good amount of substance. Then you want to be clear on payment, who’s paying who and when. Are you paying when a draft is done? Are you paying when something is posted online? How much are you paying? I gave Liz the option. “Do you want a dollar amount now, or do you want to have a percentage? If this should turn into an e-Book, do you want a percentage for the rest of time?” She made the calculated decision that she wanted a full payment then, and that’s fine. We may partner in the future for marketing, but that’s what she wanted then.
The timing … This was not an urgent project for me, but if you are a company that wants a blog post done, you probably want it done on a certain day, not when Becky Brown gets around to it, so the timing. Then what happens if you don’t hit that timing? What happens if you get a call to do a Food Blogger Pro podcast, and you have to stop and study and work on something, and you don’t have time to do that? Life can happen. You want to be clear, if you’re talking about writing, who owns the copyright, if it’s a work made for hire, this creative control. What if you write a blog post for a company and they’re like, “No, we want to look at it first, and we might want to put in this sentence about this certain ingredient that we put in every post”?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s a-
Becky Brown: Is that something that you want?
Bjork Ostrom: That’s a really interesting one, too, with the sponsored content and native advertising. Creative control over the content I know is a really hot topic in journalism. Should brands have the ability to give feedback on a post if it’s something that you’re publishing as native content? If nothing else, I think going through that process is beneficial for the individual as well, for you to clearly define, “What is it that I actually want from this?”
Becky Brown: What am I doing?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, I feel-
Becky Brown: What am I doing here?
Bjork Ostrom: I feel like sometimes we think we know until we sit down and it’s like what is the timeline on this? It’s like, oh geez, I guess I haven’t thought about that, and then so you write it down and crunch those numbers and say, “Is this possible?” I think it’s beneficial on both sides. In something, like I said before, that’s becoming more and more common for people that are in the blogging space, because it’s not like you just sign the deal with an ad network now and then continue creating your own content. It’s becoming more common to partner with brands, to partner with other companies, and to have this kind of shared voice and promotion, and that’s can have the potential to be messy if you don’t clearly define that with a contract and an agreement.
Becky Brown: I would think as it becomes more common that the companies are going to develop more and more template agreements that are favorable to them, but the more and more bloggers do it, they’re going to have the template things that they want. You’re going to get a clash until we get to the right place.
Bjork Ostrom: Always evolving, right, with all ..
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: … of this stuff? It will never …
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: … be the same.
Becky Brown: Yes.
Bjork Ostrom: Which is why it’s so helpful that we have books like this so that we can resource and look through.
Becky Brown: Good segue!
Bjork Ostrom: Hey, how about that? Becky, can you tell us a little bit about where people can find the book and check that out if they want to download that and read through that, which I would suggest that they do, and then also a little bit about where people can find you and follow along with what you’re doing?
Becky Brown: Absolutely. My blog is MyUtensilCrock.com, and the book is pretty easy to find on there. I’ve got a tab in the main navigation bar called e-Book, and there’s also a couple ad looking things in the periphery to click on to find the book.
Bjork Ostrom: Great.
Becky Brown: It’s downloadable from Gumroad.com.
Bjork Ostrom: Nice!
Becky Brown: Yeah, and so MyUtensilCrock is my website. I’m also on Pinterest, and Instagram, and Facebook, and Twitter, all with My Utensil Crock as the handle.
Bjork Ostrom: Cool.
Becky Brown: That’s where you can find me.
Bjork Ostrom: Hey, awesome! Becky, thanks so much for coming on the podcast today, sharing all this stuff, and doing it in a way that is understandable, right? That’s the hard thing.
Becky Brown: I hope it was, yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: You can wrap your head around it, and so appreciate you doing that and having the conversations around all this important stuff today.
Becky Brown: Thanks so much, Bjork.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, thanks, Becky. That’s a wrap for episode number 36. Becky, thank you one more time for coming on the podcast today. Just a reminder, if you have a takeaway, something that you learned, maybe an action item that you’re going to move forward on after listening to this podcast, you can go to FoodBloggerPro.com/36, and that will redirect you to the show notes for this podcast, and you can leave a comment there letting us know what it is that you’re going to do, or what it is that you’re going to take action on, or what it is that you learned after listening to this podcast. We’ll pick one of those a couple weeks after this podcast airs, and we will follow up with a free e-Book, “Think Like a Lawyer, Blog Like a Pro.” Becky, one more time, thanks for coming on the podcast. To all of you listening, really appreciate you tuning in each and every week. It means so much to us, and we hope that we continue to deliver value to you as we chat about different things that have to do with this crazy world of blogging. That’s a wrap! Make it a great week, guys. Thanks.