Season 12 Episode 6

What’s the Difference Between Recipe Inspiration and Downright Plagiarism?

Oreos, cronuts and slutty brownies… they’ve all been involved in food plagiarism! From chefs copying other chefs to big brands copying other big brands, plagiarism in the world of food is more common than we might think. But where’s the line between inspiration and plain copying? Does giving something a name make it yours? We agree that plagiarism is morally WRONG, before taking a look at the law and wondering how it could be regulated… Tune in for chef James’s solution! What do you think: should plagiarism be punished, or is it a natural part of the cooking process? Do you have an alternative solution? Comment below and get involved!


Best soundbite: “Is this because you’re plagiarising Tom Fletcher from McFly’s entire dress sense?” – Mike Huttlestone

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Something to make you think...

With social media and the internet, it’s now easier than ever to copy what other people are doing without them even knowing it. Do you think this needs to be regulated? How?

What would you like to feast your ears on?
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  1. dottleddolly

    I find this topic really interesting. I was probably one of the many that suggested this topic, but it never occured to me about traditional cuisines, but then isn’t there a few like Creole that are a merging of two or more cuisines, so there’s a point in that instance that’s it’s a good thing.

    • Sorted

      There are so many places in food where this idea could be applied to, and yes even the merging of two cuisines.

  2. Sunanda_K

    Ah, I’m so torn on this! I do believe ideas belong to everyone (and that anyone who wants to should freely try to execute it their way), but with acknowledgements to the original creator. But copyrights and patents work in the diametrically opposite way, *stop* people from using your idea. Since there’s a monetary value involved, it seems fair, but what is does is that drives smaller businesses or individual people ( who may not have the means or the legal knowledge) out of the race, because big business that come across a great idea tend to patent it first. Morally though, I agree with everyone here : credit where credit is due! It feels super icky to profiting off someone else’s original idea, especially if copied by someone with a wider social reach.
    Hat-tip to Jamie for acknowledging that a lot of food that is now enjoyed globally came from the aftermath of the colonial turmoil ( for example, tandoori food culture became popular after the partition of India and Pakistan). Small correction though : it didn’t happen 200 or 500 years ago. It was a mere 73 years for us and even lesser for many others. ( For example, Kenya gained independence from the British in 1963).

    • Sorted

      Exactly – we don’t want it to be a money grabbing exercise where the first people to patent something are the richest and all the small independents loose out. This happens all too often.

  3. Taheera

    I think you all hit upon the real issue, which is an moral/ethical one. Fun fact, plagiarism wasn’t seen as an issue for a long time, it was actually flattery to imitate someone else’s work, whether that was art, music, or cooking. I think the issue started when money and credibility came into the question, i.e. who got paid/credit for x, y, or z. I think plagiarism should only be punished when you are claiming the idea as being your own when you are aware of it not being so and/or receiving acclaim and/or money for it. For example, quoting someone else’s words without crediting them or failing to acknowledge that a recipe was inspired by a visit to a restaurant/a particular dish.

    On the flip side, it’s really hard to completely reinvent the wheel. A lot of stuff has been done, not just in the food world but in society in general, and as Tolkien once said, who can create a new leaf? I think the biggest change will come when people can set their own pride aside and attribute credit humbly and honestly, rather than trying desperately to create something that they alone can lay claim to.

    • Sorted

      Some really good points here Taheera, thanks for sharing them with us. You’re right, it’s very hard to completely reinvent the wheel. There’s also a reason we have the saying that ‘imitation is the highest form of flattery’.

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