From The Ottawa Citizen:
An Ottawa food empire has left a bitter taste in the mouth of a cookbook author in Japan who alleges it stole and served up her recipes.
The foodie fight over soy-pickled eggs and sashimi on hot rice has turned blistering.
Ottawa entrepreneur Chris Knight vehemently denies any infringement and says Gusto Worldwide Media will file a lawsuit and an injunction stopping Nancy Singleton Hachisu from attacking its “wonderful” reputation on social media.
. . . .
Hachisu lives in rural Japan but says she was strolling through the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Yantai, China, in May when she picked up the winning One World Kitchen. It’s a 2015 collection of recipes from the Gusto TV show, penned by Knight and featuring recipes from Argentina, Italy, India, Thailand and Japan.
She flipped open the Japanese section — and saw “smashed cucumber pickles with garlic,” a title she says she had coined.
“OK, this happens,” thought the author of 2012’s Japanese Farm Food, which won a Gourmand Award and has a back-cover blurb from famed farm-to-table pioneer Alice Waters. Hachisu, a Californian who married a Japanese organic farmer, read on.
“More of my own words jumped off of the page,” Hachisu. “My exact words and unique turn of phrase had been copy-pasted into this … cookbook. Shaking, I flipped through more pages and discovered five other recipes that had been plagiarized.”
She did a side-by-side comparison of recipes that appear in her book, Knight’s, and on Gusto TV’s website.
“Lay the cucumbers on a large cutting board and bang them gently but firmly with a Japanese pestle (surikogi) or rolling pin to crack (and slightly smash) the surface of the cucumbers,” instructs Hachisu’s book. “Break into rough chunks with your hands and drop into a freezer-style gallon-sized resealable plastic bag.”
“Lay the cucumbers on a large cutting board, and bang them gently but firmly with a Japanese pestle or rolling pin to slightly smash the cucumbers, which will form cracks in the surface,” reads Knight’s. “Break into rough chunks with your hands, and drop into a large resealable freezer bag.”
Hachisu’s recipe for eggs pickled in soy sauce tell the cook that “when the eggs are cool, gently crack by rapping and rolling on a cutting board.”
Knight writes, “When the eggs are cool, gently crack the shells by rapping and rolling the eggs on a cutting board.”
. . . .
Months later, Hachisu now says she’s seeking a total of $30,000 in compensatory damages, pursuing “the principle of the matter” on her own.
But according to Gusto World Media, it will be they who file a lawsuit in Ontario shortly.
“To avoid any confusion, I wish to be clear, the One World Kitchen cookbook does not infringe any alleged rights of Ms. Hachisu,” Knight, the author of a string of cookbooks along with his work on television, said in a statement.
Link to the rest at The Ottawa Citizen and thanks to Tudor for the tip.
PG reminds one and all that he is not an expert on Canadian copyright law.
In the US, the general rule is that a simple recipe cannot be protected by copyright. Here’s what the Copyright Office says about the subject:
Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.
In addition to lists of ingredients, unadorned instructions in a recipe, “put the eggs, popcorn and garlic into a bowl and stir,” are also generally not protected. There are only so many ways to describe common cooking activities.
That said, Ms. Hachisu seems to be using the right language to support her claim, “unique turn of phrase.”