Social media has created a lifestyle that encourages its users to publicly share their lives online for all of their closest friends, family and complete strangers to see. The latest trend on social networking channels is surprisingly in relation to a new type of porn; food porn, that is. If you aren’t familiar with the hashtag food porn (#foodporn), it refers to exactly what it suggests: pictures of food that look so appetizing it actually causes people pleasure just looking at them.

The written and unwritten laws of sharing someone else’s work by means of a published outlet, also known as plagiarism, have always included giving the correct attribution to the original author (or in this case, chef). However, with social media outlets changing the game of sharing, there hasn’t been a list of set rules put into place yet regarding images of someone else’s work.  

Americans are said to be sharing more than 50 million photos a day on Instagram alone, some of which include pictures of food with the illusive #foodporn hashtag. According to a recent report from The Guardian, stories have been surfacing from the Michelin starred establishments of France, which indicate that chefs are fed up with patrons snapping photographs of their unique dishes and posting them online.

Chef RJ Cooper, from Rogue 24 in Washington D.C., has made similar claims stating that pictures of food photos taken without a chef’s consent are stealing intellectual property from the restaurant.  

However, some chefs argue that they welcome the social promotion with open arms. Justin Llewellyn, the head chef at the award-winning Laguna Kitchen & Bar at Park Plaza Cardiff, in Washington D.C. believes social media has boosted the dining experience and business in general. “Those chefs complaining about breaches to their intellectual property are fighting a losing battle. You can’t copyright food or food ideas, and even if you could I wouldn’t want to. Social networks are the new word of mouth. It’s the new advertising. You have to move with the times,” Llewellyn said.

According to the report, a plate of food is hard to substantiate as a protected “work.” The copyright actually belongs to those taking the photos rather than the chef or the restaurant owner.


For related reports on intellectual property, check out these articles:

Keurig under fire for use of DRM in new coffee makers

Oscar selfie tweet raises copyright questions

Apple scores patent litigation victory in Germany

The top 10 businesses targeted by patent trolls