Content Aggregation, Making of a blog post and Zucchini Chutney (Spicy Zucchini Relish)
The past week went by in a blur. The blur of confusion, anger, despair and to a certain extent helplessness. I kept wondering that if it is so easy for anyone to come and lift the work you have put your heart and soul in, why should one create? Why should I take the effort of cooking, clicking and writing a recipe when anyone apart from us can actually make money out of it?
I spent 3 days, long endless days which involved reading up copyright laws, talking to lawyers, coordinating with bloggers among dealing with despair, anger and other emotions, and many a times I thought of shutting this blog but then I saw the whole food blogging community coming together to take on The Frying Pan. Whether or not their recipes were involved they were and are standing with us like a rock. So so so glad to be a part of this circle and that made me realise that nopes, I must not give up. I will fight for what is wrong. Read Sia's post on it here which also reflects the same feelings.
And you all, each of you who shared my post and help us spread the word. A big heartfelt Thank you. Your support was a little light in the darkness we were all facing. At a time when I was even thinking of giving up blogging, the support and belief made me realise that no running isn't a solution. I have a new zeal now and will create more content, better content.
I think this might also be a good time to tell you what really goes behind a blog post. For me, the process starts with planning what goes on the blog. I chart out a rough schedule for the blog at the beginning of each month. Keeping in mind the seasonal vegetables, and fruits. The weather and what kind of foods do people like to eat during that time, if there are any festivals around or major days coming up and specific recipes for those that need to be shared. After the calendar is sorted, those dishes are placed in your regular weekly menus. Sometimes that might work and sometimes it doesn't.
Then comes the part of testing those dishes, this might require cooking them anywhere between 1-5 times till one has a recipe that is perfect and can be reproduced as per the instructions. It doesn't end there BTW, Once the dish is ready sometimes the whole family waits for us to style and photograph the dish. Many angles would be tried, many settings played around with before we finally have that shot that makes it to the blog. In certain cases, the recipe would have been made specially for the blog and then we would go around searching for nice people to share that dish with.
If you think we are done, let me tell you not. The pictures are then processed (I do very very minimal post processing) but it still takes anywhere from 1-2 hours to get the images for one single blog post sorted. The size for the cover picture of the post, the one that goes on Pinterest (follow me here) in both long format and the one with only text, the square for Instagram (follow me here) and so on. Now that the pictures are sorted, comes the task of writing the post.
Some of us just write a couple of lines on the dish they are sharing and some of us write their stories, something that they tie with the recipe but in both cases it takes atleast about an hour to write the post and publish it.
And after all this we spend a substantial amount of time promoting the blog post on various social media platforms and then someone comes and thinks that it is ok for them lift the recipes and use it for commercial purposes without even as much a permission? It makes you wonder what is the point of putting this much time and effort.
Through the discussions last week, another point that was raised was "what are the ethics behind Aggregation. Where do you draw the line on what is aggregation and what is stealing?" This episode has created a dialogue in social media which I think is much needed. To raise awareness on both sides on what is legally allowed, what is ethically all right to do? I feel this link states it very very beautifully.
This part in particular made sense to me
Symbiotic vs. Parasitic
Back in 2010 when I was responding to Mark Cuban’s post, I drew a distinction that I still hold today, the distinction between symbiotic and parasitic aggregators.
Some aggregators, through a combination of limited use and proper attribution, seek to support and help those that they pull from, creating mutually-beneficial relationship. Others, seek to simply exploit the work of others for their personal gain and return nothing of value to the creator.
So when I find myself looking at an aggregation, I ask myself a simple question:
Is the aggregator providing more value to the original creator than it is taking away?
If you ask many a bloggers about listicles, most will tell you that listicles make them uncomfortable. It often feels like one's idea has been lifted, some similar ideas been googled and hence came off the post. I am not saying all listicles are bad, some of them do very innovative and interesting rounds up. Some of the famous ones end up sending huge traffic your way and most good ones do ask for permission before using your content in the list and personally for me there lies a huge difference.
IMHO, for an aggregator to be ethical and work with the content creator (because ofcourse their business won't stand without the content anyways)
1. Must ask for permission before using the content in their website/app.
2. Has to be selective and cannot lift complete or majority work of an author. Whether it stories, news, recipes or anything else. If you are taking more than 5% (or so) of the content I own on the website for your commercial work it is not aggregation anymore.
3. Has to add a substantial value to the content and when I mean value here, I mean value for the content creator and not the user.
Factor Daily also did a piece on the whole issue, highlighting the problems in a well written article.
Factor Daily says
"Content aggregation is a murky area, for sure. Fair Use of content laws in India are inadequate and unclear. Indian copyright laws use the term ‘fair dealing’ with respect to creative works rather than the term ‘fair use’, which is more prevalent in the US and is broader in scope. According to the Copyright Act 1957, fair dealing of any work (except computer programmes) is allowed in India for the purposes of: “private or personal use, including research, criticism or review, and reporting of current events and current affairs, including the reporting of a lecture delivered in public.”
This leaves a bit of wriggle room for news aggregators and other content “curators”, but under IP laws there is a limit to the amount of content you can use for commercial purposes, as The Frying Pan is doing in its identity as a commercial venture."
As a reader or as a content creator what are your thoughts on aggregations? What do you make out of it?
And at the end of this long post (thank you for bearing with me and reaching here) I cannot leave you all without a recipe. Since I have promised myself and in a way readers that you will see more and better content here, it will be a pity if I end this post without a recipe. So here is a quick recipe for Zucchini Chutney. The idea of this long ago came from Nandita who had posted Zucchini Thoriyal once on instagram. Since then this chutney is a regular at home. We eat with dosas and idlies and paranthas and rice.
Zucchini Chutney (Spicy Zucchini Relish)
For the tempering
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil and sautee onions and garlic together till lightly browned. On high heat, add the zucchini and sautee till browned and looks slightly charred. Keep aside for cooling
- Once cool, grind together with grated coconut and green chillies to form a smooth paste. Use little water if required. Add salt to taste and mix
- For the tempering, heat ghee/oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds start crackling add to the chutney and serve with idly/dosa