Now this here is a bit o’ interestingness…
It seems as if Jason at DC Foodies has had a run in with Buck’s Camping and Fishing chef and owner Carole Greenwood. While eating dinner, he took some pictures of the food (as food bloggers are wont to do), which caused the chef to come out during dessert and discuss the legalities of picture taking. Aside from that, it appears as if Jason enjoyed the meal.
That is, until Carole Greenwood’s Lawyer sent a cease and desist letter. From the letter:
Please be advised that my client, Buck’s Camping and Fishing, has requested that I contact you with a demand that you cease and desist from showing any pictures that you may have taken of the food and facilities of the said restaurant.
Carole Greenwood can be a pain in the tuckus to her customers, or at least so says Washington Post writer Tom Sietsema, so this outburst should not be that big of a surprise.
But it does beg the question, should a restaurant patron be able to take pictures of the food in a restaurant? Or is the mere look of the food proprietary, as Chef Greenwood would claim?
Of course, the folks at eGullet are all over it, with the best answer so far coming from writer cdh:
Copyright law is pretty clear that the pictures you take are yours and only yours. If the chef has any copyrightable subject matter that you took a picture of, then you might need rights, but I really doubt that the composition of a dish on a plate is copyrightable subject matter… (probably too utilitarian, though it might be artistic enough, and consequently a potentially very expensive issue to litigate… if she can afford the fight herself…)
So, you, as an invitee on the restaurant’s property are licensed to be there subject to their conditions, one of which might be that you don’t use a camera. If your license to be on the property expires because you use your camera, you might be liable to the owner of the property for trespassing on their land (damages are usually minimal)… but the pictures are still yours. You definitely own the copyright to the pictures, and unless you agreed to a nondisclosure agreement you can probably do with them as you please.
Personally, I have no issue with taking pictures at a restaurant, as long as I don’t ruin other people’s eating experience (I no longer use flashes on my camera at a restaurant). But I’m also biased, because word on the street is that I’m a food blogger.
Can anyone provide better information on this?