01 November 2021
Sarah Beattie, Guild special officer who looks after members’ professional issues, has been considering the issue of plagiarism in the light of recent news:
‘The Makan scandal is in the news (washingtonpost.com/food/2021/10/11/makan-cookbook-singapore-plagiarism/ and bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-58883458). The Guild expects that its members will credit other authors when using or quoting their work. There is no copyright in a recipe – a difficult thing to accept sometimes – but the lifting of exact wording and especially the narrative is covered. Haigh’s case is not unprecedented. Years ago a renowned author complained she felt the plagiarist had stolen her mother when introductory passages were taken along with recipes.
‘The pressure on a young chef to cook, run a restaurant, broadcast and write must have been huge. Was a ghost involved? The fallout must be awful. Sharon Wee says some 15 recipes and anecdotes have been copied – will the book be reprinted without this content, or with amendments / credits? And what of Sharon Wee? Will someone offer her a new book deal, can she, in the long run, gain? Will she receive compensation?
‘What can you do if it happens to you? Firstly, be very sure. Don’t make any accusations unless you are certain. Show trusted friends, then forward to your agent or publisher. They should deal with infringements on your behalf. They may not. You might then use Social Media. Be warned – not everyone gets the support Sharon Wee has had.’