When I started this food blog some months ago, it was meant to be a way to keep me occupied, and to express my passion for food and gastronomy. It never even crossed my mind that the words and photos I created would be plagiarised and stolen.
Last week, I experienced my first incident of digital robbery.
If it wasn’t for my obsession with group-buying websites like Scoopon, Spreets, Groupon and many others, I may never have found out my work was being stolen. I received this email on Wednesday morning, with the words, “A modern-Australian feast for two in sunny Newtown”. It was accompanied by a beautiful photo of a confit of pork belly and scallops.
Hang on, I thought. Could that be my picture that I took, so many months ago at the Three Weeds bistro in Rozelle? Surely not.
Do you remember those pictures in primary school, where there would be two seemingly identical photos, side-by-side to each other, and you had to pick out the differences? This is exactly what I did with my photo, and Cudo’s. I was sure Cudo had stolen my work to promote a deal for the Grub & Tucker restaurant in Newtown.
Over the next day, Cudo sent three more emails, with my picture featuring inside. This was so infuriating. They even had the audacity to photoshop the photo, and even tried to extend the curve of the plate, which might I add, was a horrible job.
Perhaps I had suffered a memory lapse, and indeed Cudo had asked me for my permission to use the photo, even if it was for a different restaurant? Impossible.
I wrote Cudo two emails, to no avail. I notified Leigh McDivitt, executive chef of Three Weeds, and thankfully he brought it up with the owners.
Finally, on Thursday afternoon, Leigh tweeted me and said Cudo had agreed to take down the photo.
I was ecstatic and still angry at the same time. Cudo did not even once reply to my emails, or even bother to contact me. What kind of ethics does this company represent, when they rip off a photo from a random, no-name food blog?
On Friday afternoon, I received this email from Cudo’s chief operating officer David Ash.
What a cop-out. No apology, no explanation, nothing. Two days after I sent the original emails.
Thank you Cudo. Even though you stole my photo and used it without my permission, I still have to take it as a compliment; I mean, my photos must be alright then? How flattering.
What I learnt from this experience is that to have something taken away from you, which you have spent so much time and effort to create, is extremely hurtful. It is the same as having someone copy your assignment in high school. It might be “just a photo” but to me, it is much more than that.
Thank you to all of the food bloggers that gave me advice, Three Weeds for being so understanding (and ultimately forcing Cudo to take down the picture) and all of my friends for giving me advice.
Cudo has finally apologised.