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#1 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 02:43 PM

Thoughts? Can a restaurant tell you that you can't take pictures of food that you've paid for? It's an interesting discussion I think.

From a technical legal standpoint, I think that a restaurateur can tell you not to take pictures in their establishment. But I don't think you would need their advance permission and any pictures you take before you are told not to take photographs should be OK. If they post a sign saying no picture taking allowd (like Fuddruckers does) then no photography is permitted and they can throw you out if you violate the policy. After all, it is their private property and they have the right to condition your entrance on any terms they like; by entering the restaurant, you agree to the terms (like opening a box of shrinkwrap software). I don't know if the restaurant has any rights to the likenesses of their dishes. Here is the definition of "copyright" from the copright act:

Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

I don't know whether food is a work of authorship or whether a plate is a tangible medium of expression. Artwork and sculpture are protected by copyright. (And all of this is fodder for another thread) This issue of copyright goes to the question of whether you can "use" the pictures not whether you can take them.

But at the end of the day, why is Carole Greenwood so worried that pictures of something she cooked would show up on the Internet? Is she worried about imitation (I can see how imitation of the presentation might be a problem but not the taste)? Is she ashamed of the way her dishes look when the product is delivered to the customer? Or is this just another manifestation of her general reputation for orneriness?

My general feeling is that people take pictures of food only when they are impressed with the presentation, not when they think it looks like a plate of shit.

(and the fact that she had to reach down to Fredricksburg to find a lawyer to take the case could speak fo the possible strength of the case)
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#2 Michael Landrum

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:03 PM

Many fine dining establishments in this area do not allow cameras or camera phones. Most of them have apostrophes in their name (e. g. Joanna's, Archibald's, JP's, Louis Rogue's, Buck's, Ray's etc.) but that may be coincedental. It is a way to maintain and protect the artistic integrity of the work and the artists hard at work.

#3 dcfoodie

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:05 PM

My general feeling is that people take pictures of food only when they are impressed with the presentation, not when they think it  looks like a plate of shit.

Right. I generally only post pictures when I thought the food was good. And if I write something positive about the place and the pictures look like crap, I'll delete them because...well, who's gonna believe me that the food is good if the photos don't back it up.

Thanks for the legal summary too.
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#4 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:34 PM

Many fine dining establishments in this area do not allow cameras or camera phones.  Most of them have apostrophes in their name (e. g. Joanna's, Archibald's, JP's, Louis Rogue's, Buck's, Ray's etc.) but that may be coincedental.  It is a way to maintain and protect the artistic integrity of the work and the artists hard at work.

Good Guys'

PS: that stuff in the letter about damages and attorney's fees is a crock. She would have to proove damages (speculative here) and with regard to attorney's fees, we do not have the English system here where the looser pays the winner's attorneys' fees. However, if the work had been registered with the copyright office, then they would not have to prove damages (they could get statutory damages) and they would be entitled to attorneys' fees. However, I doubt that Carole has taken the trouble to register her dishes with the copyright office for in order to do so, she would have to send her food to the government.
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#5 jparrott

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:48 PM

Good Guys'

PS: that stuff in the letter about damages and attorney's fees is a crock.  She would have to proove damages (speculative here) and with regard to attorney's fees, we do not have the English system here where the looser pays the winner's attorneys' fees.  However, if the work had been registered with the copyright office, then they would not have to prove damages (they could get statutory damages) and they would be entitled to attorneys' fees.  However, I doubt that Carole has taken the trouble to register her dishes with the copyright office for in order to do so, she would have to send her food to the government.

And wouldn't she have to send them a blue steak, a rare steak, an MR steak, a medium steak, a medium-well steak, and a well-done steak? How can you show copyright unless every instance of the dish is exactly the same? So if the wine changes in the wine sauce and it doesn't taste exactly the same, there's no copyright attached, etc etc.

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#6 Spiral Stairs

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:06 PM

I think that, in the case of Greenwood v. DC Foodie, Greenwood would have to take the position that the presentation of the food is copyrightable, not the food itself. Can a food's presentation be considered art?

It's an interesting question. I'd bet some chefs would be loathe to say no.

Whether legally defensible or not, it was a stupid, stupid business move to assert such a silly right -- especially when Greenwood apparently was, at best, unclear about the rules governing photography in her restaurant (which she is, of course, free to set). The internet has a way of magnifying and propagating ill will.
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#7 RaisaB

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:16 PM

Wow some things are much clearer now.

Hasn't Chef Greenwood always been a bit of an eccentric character? (Don I don't want to break any rules here so please delete this if you see fit) I really don't know much about her food, but I have heard/read a few stories about her little quirks.
I never went to Buck's because of the previous stories about her, I am sure if someone digs enough they will find them on another website, or maybe a newspaper/magazine article.
It seems like she is definately a back of the house person and shouldn't venture up front that often, as it costs her much business.

Edited by RaisaB, 02 January 2006 - 04:24 PM.


#8 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:18 PM

Can a food's presentation be considered art?

I think this misses the mark. Of course food presentation is "art." But is it art that is protected by copyright? Is it a work of authorship that has been fixed in a tangible medium of expression? After all, each iteration of the same dish would be considered a separate and distinct work, assuming the conditions for copyright protection exist. This really needs a separate thread.

And, and, the owner of the copyright contols the right to create what are known as "derivative works." For instance, only Ian Fleming can write another James Bond novel unless he or his estate grants the subsequent author permission (for a price, of course). And copyright only lasts for so long. One could argue that "food on a plate" was the initial work and the copyright on that expired eons ago, so there is no copyright protection for derivative works. (Keep in mind that I am only a tax laywer and am stepping outside my field of expertise, but I do know a "little bit" about copyright, and we are getting close to exhausting it))

And I agree that it was a stupid move from a business standpoint to have a lawyer send that letter which could be posted on the Internet. We should stage a "pix in" at Buck's where we all bring digital cameras and start taking pictures of our food.

Now I see Michael's point, I understand what the "buck's" is in Buck's Fishing and Camping." I did not notice the apostrophe before Michael pointed it out. Buck's is one of those "establishments" that I have yet to visit. I expect the highest quality in terms of the artistic expression that is going on there.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux, 02 January 2006 - 04:27 PM.

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#9 Spiral Stairs

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:27 PM

I think this misses the mark.  Of course food presentation is "art."  But is it art that is protected by copyright?  Is it a work of authorship that has been fixed in a tangible medium of expression?  After all, each iteration of the same dish would be considered a separate and distinct work, assuming the conditions for copyright protection exist.

Perhaps I used the word "art" too loosely -- though I can't offhand think of something widely considered art that is not copyrightable. As for the food example, copyright doesn't require duplicatability. A painter who paints ten nearly identical images of the same landscape has created ten copyrightable expressions, and a photograph of any one of them could violate the copyright that attaches to that image.

I can't think of any good reason why foodstuffs would not be considered a tangible medium of expression. Art needn't be permanent to be copyrightable.

(For the record, because I may be in over my head, I am a lawyer who took an art law class in law school, but I'm not presently anything resembling a copyright lawyer.)
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#10 Waitman

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:31 PM

The funny thing (ok, a funny thing) is that while Greenwood sees herself not just an "artist in the kitchen," but a "fine artist" -- I believe she considered leaving cooking for a fine arts career just before opening Buck's and that it was a real option for her -- her presentations are hardly unique or artitistic in the way that makes (usually) magazine covers or goes onto the table at CitiZen. A rilled snapper. A grilled steak. You'd be hard-pressed to pick one of her dinners out of a line-up a week after you ate it.

The one time she did make a magaize cover -- The Post Magazine's Dining Guide issue -- they showed her iconic wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese and bacon. You know, the one they served at every Holiday Inn steakhouse in America when you were growing up.

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#11 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 04:41 PM

Perhaps I used the word "art" too loosely -- though I can't offhand think of something widely considered art that is not copyrightable. 

I doubt that the work of "performance artists" is copyrightable. There is no fixation in a tangible medium of expression. But is that "widely considered art.? According to Michael, there appears to be "performance art" going on at "Buck's."

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux, 02 January 2006 - 04:44 PM.

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#12 CrescentFresh

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:31 PM

"Artist" begins with the letter "A." For some reason, there's another word that begins with the letter "A" that comes to mind when I think about this.
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#13 Dark Wing

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:40 PM

"Artist" begins with the letter "A." For some reason, there's another word that begins with the letter "A" that comes to mind when I think about this.

She's a Cook; not an Artist.

#14 jparrott

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:55 PM

"Artist" begins with the letter "A."  For some reason, there's another word that begins with the letter "A" that comes to mind when I think about this.

Albondiga?

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#15 Barbara

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:57 PM

Like Jacques, I have never eaten at Buck's and this whole episode seems to speak directly to Michael Landrum's point (on the no-show thread) about some restaurants causing anxiety and intimidation to potential clients. With so many restaurants here in which I haven't yet eaten, my inclination to go to Buck's is just about nil.

#16 mame11

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 05:58 PM

Without going into the specifics of the situation, because I do not know the exact law of DC on the topic, I am willing to bet that a restaurant owner has the right to stop the publication of photos taken of food in her restaurant under the right of publicity. There is an exception under the 1st Am. of that little document on display at the Archives for news purposes but bloggers tend to not want to be journalists so the exception wouldn't apply. And even if you are a journalist I think there are limits as to what "news" is.

Years ago it was pretty common for photographers to take pictures of inanimate objects for all kinds of purposes, including art, without getting the permission of the owner of the inanimate object. Now, it is recognized that obtaining the consent of the owner of the owner of the inanimate object is required and avoids potentially expensive litigation.

Have you ever read the back of a ticket for a game at the MCI Center or any other venue. You should. Not only do you release the owner of the venue and teams from liability for most injuries as you have "assumed the risk" that you can get hit by an errant basketball, baseball and the occassional bat. You also grant the venue (as copyright owner) a license to your image for use on the jumbotron and broadcast on television.

And, yes performance artists have the exclusive rights provided under the copyright act.

Edited by NCPinDC, 02 January 2006 - 05:59 PM.


#17 mame11

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:00 PM

She's a Cook; not an Artist.

Wow. I think chefs are artists. Harsh.

#18 Heather

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:07 PM

Without going into the specifics of the situation, because I do not know the exact law of DC on the topic, I am willing to bet that a restaurant owner has the right to stop the publication of photos taken of food in her restaurant under the right of publicity.  There is an exception under the 1st Am. of that little document on display at the Archives for news purposes but bloggers tend to not want to be journalists so the exception wouldn't apply.  And even if you are a journalist I think there are limits as to what "news" is.

Wait, so is a restaurant review not news? And here I had been reading them in newspapers and assuming they were. Or is it only news when it's in a paper or on television? And as there are many so-called "traditional" print journalists with blogs, is their stuff only news if it's published in their regular gig?

Right of publicity or not, Chef Greenwood seems to go out of her way to make people feel unwelcome, or at least pissed-off. Just one reason why Buck's never crosses my mind when considering places to go in the city.

#19 DonRocks

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:11 PM

Like Jacques, I have never eaten at Buck's and this whole episode seems to speak directly to Michael Landrum's point (on the no-show thread) about some restaurants causing anxiety and intimidation to potential clients.  With so many restaurants here in which I haven't yet eaten, my inclination to go to Buck's is just about nil.

[Let me briefly chime in as moderator: as much as I don't like seeing Buck's getting raked over the coals, this is pretty clearly a fair topic for discussion although it may merit a separate thread at some point because it raises larger issues.]

And now as a regular old poster: I was actually there that night (!), briefly, before needing to dart out after about two minutes to tend to some unexpected business. I don't know Carole, having only met her once (see top post in this thread), but James is a good egg, and Jamie & Company behind the bar have always been friendly and welcoming.

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#20 Heather

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:12 PM

Wow.  I think chefs are artists.  Harsh.

Disagreement here, although perhaps chefs like Michel Richard, or Fabio Trabocci have claims to being artists.

The chef as artist is hindered by what the same issue that Mario Batali brought up on the Today Show: "When you think about it, all my greatest work is poop, tomorrow."

#21 mame11

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:21 PM

Yes, restaurant reviews in a news outlet would be considered news. However, I believe news outlets have to have the consent of a restaurant that is subject to a feature. That is, if I am writing for the Post and write a review of Iota, it is news. However, if I want to write a feature on music venues that have good food and want to highlight the chef and crew at Iota, I have to get permission. NOTE: I am not a First Amendment lawyer or expert, nor am I offering any legal advice on this or any other topic.

Whatever you think of a shop owner's personality, they have the right to control how and when images of their goods are distributed and displayed.

#22 monavano

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:21 PM

Disagreement here, although perhaps chefs like Michel Richard, or Fabio Trabocci have claims to being artists.

The chef as artist is hindered by what the same issue that Mario Batali brought up on the Today Show:  "When you think about it, all my greatest work is poop, tomorrow."


Oh jeez, soda up the nose :)

#23 dcfoodie

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:24 PM

Here's the thing guys. I don't really care if a restaurant doesn't want me taking pictures of their food. I'll admit that the pictures I take aren't always the most flattering.

It's the way that this was handled that's the problem here. I mean, if someone had asked me nicely not to post the pictures online and given an explanation then I wouldn't have given it a second thought. Michael Landrum's post earlier would have been enough of an explanation for me.

But no one said I couldn't take pictures. All that happened was that Carole said I needed to have her permission to use them at the end of the meal and it was done rudely. After that, James came over to smooth things over and told us we didn't have to pay attention to Carole. Then the next day I got the cease and desist letter.

I don't need my ego stroked -- I just expect to be treated with respect when I'm paying $140 for dinner at a place.
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#24 hillvalley

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:25 PM

There are a plethora of ironies on this thread right now but I'll only comment on one:
if Greenwood had stayed in the back of the house it sounds like Buck's would have recieved a nice bit of free, positive publicity on dcfoodie's blog.
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#25 oliveDC

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:30 PM

Legal issues and definitions of art aside, to me this boils down to tact. There are tactful ways to deal with people in life that win you more admirers than enemies. Cease and desist letters are typically used to intimidate and bully. I think it’s pretty ridiculous to have a lawyer draw up a letter just because you don’t want photos of your food on a blog. A civilized conversation about why you might not want someone taking pictures in your restaurant and a polite explanation of why any previously taken photos shouldn’t be used could have prevented this whole thing (as Jason explains above). I think the whole thing is embarrassing for the restaurant.

But to nitpick the legal issues, wouldn’t he have had to post the photos to have something to “cease” doing? The speed with which they slapped that letter on him is just bizarre…
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#26 RaisaB

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:36 PM

I don't mean to stupid, but can someone explain this to me? If Washingtonian, The Post, City Paper, went to the restaurant, ate anonymously, and took pictures, they wouldn't be able to publish them without her permission?
As Waitman noted, she isn't known for her artistic abilities with food, so what copyright infringement is there? Does she even ladle the dressing on the iceburg herself?
She is known for her intimidation and that is what I personally associate with her name. This does seem like it would be a perfect subject for it's own thread.

#27 jparrott

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:37 PM

To be fair, I think most Post, etc. restaurant photo shoots are arranged.

Edit: for clarification

Edited by jparrott, 02 January 2006 - 06:37 PM.

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#28 oliveDC

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:38 PM

To be fair, I think most Post, etc. restaurant photo shoots are arranged.

Edit: for clarification

I think Tom S. addressed that in a chat once when asked if someone can refuse to be reviewed. I think he said he could still print the review but they could refuse to have photos taken.
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#29 dcfoodie

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:39 PM

if Greenwood had stayed in the back of the house it sounds like Buck's would have recieved a nice bit of free, positive publicity on dcfoodie's blog.

You've got that right! I had already written the post when I received the email. Too bad.
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#30 porcupine

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:44 PM

To be fair, I think most Post, etc. restaurant photo shoots are arranged.

They are. Second-hand news: I popped into Mandalay once for a late lunch and saw a bunch of equipment and lights over one of the tables. The photographer was just finishing her shoot. Joe explained that he got a call saying the Post was going to publish TS's review in a few weeks and would like to arrange a photo shoot. He was under the impression that this was fairly standard practice. FWIW.

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#31 Michael Landrum

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 06:45 PM

Michael Landrum's post earlier would have been enough of an explanation for me.

Michael Landrum's post earlier was a joke--not directed at anyone, but the set-up was too good to resist(all of the restaurants listed, besides Buck's and Ray's are strip clubs, and they all have apostrophes), underscoring the fact, like Mario Batali reminding us in his way of Poor Yorick's fate and the fate of all of our ambitions and vanities, and like Frank Zappa reminding us that the crux of the biscuit is, yes, the apostrophe, underscoring the fact that when it comes down to it all of us in the restaurant business are doing something dirty for money.

#32 dcfoodie

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:02 PM

All of the restaurants listed, besides Buck's and Ray's are strip clubs

I'm not sure how I missed that. I guess I'm just not too familiar with the DC strip club scene. :)
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#33 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:11 PM

I don't mean to stupid, but can someone explain this to me? If Washingtonian, The Post, City Paper, went to the restaurant, ate anonymously, and took pictures, they wouldn't be able to publish them without her permission?
As Waitman noted, she isn't known for her artistic abilities with food, so what copyright infringement is there? Does she even ladle the dressing on the iceburg herself?
She is known for her intimidation and that is what I personally associate with her name. This does seem like it would be a perfect subject for it's own thread.

The reviewers eat anonymously, the photographers come in later and probably get releases and all that prior to publication.
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#34 Barbara

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:02 PM

I don't mean to stupid, but can someone explain this to me? If Washingtonian, The Post, City Paper, went to the restaurant, ate anonymously, and took pictures, they wouldn't be able to publish them without her permission?
As Waitman noted, she isn't known for her artistic abilities with food, so what copyright infringement is there? Does she even ladle the dressing on the iceburg herself?
She is known for her intimidation and that is what I personally associate with her name. This does seem like it would be a perfect subject for it's own thread.

This reminds of the lunch we had at Corduroy (the MEASLY 5$ for that wonderful red snapper bisque comes into play here). I was a little concerned because there was something OBVIOUSLY going on there. It turned out to be a photographer from the Washingtonian there. OK, fine. The Washingtonian wants to highlight Corduroy? Excellent.

Which begs the question: why would ANYBODY object to their food being pictured in a magazine or a blog? I'm still not going to knock myself out to go to Buck's.

#35 crackers

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:42 PM

In my strictly non-legal opinion, a plate of mashed potatoes served upon request of a restaurant patron is not a creation of visual art. Applied art maybe, at best. So, to Ms. Greenwood and her attorney: good luck with that and stop harassing and threatening your patrons with lawsuits over something so trivial. And while you’re at it, go look up the “fair use doctrine” if you think that plate of mashed potatoes is a creation of visual art that is so protectable by the U.S. Copyright Office. If you just don’t like people taking photographs that may include your oh-so-special mashed potatoes, go right ahead and let people know that up front Ms. Prima Donna artiste - and get nasty, ruin their meal, toss them out, send attorney letters to destroy any good will that might remain. And behold the power of the blog.

Edited by crackers, 03 January 2006 - 12:19 AM.

Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; Tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!

#36 DonRocks

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 12:14 AM

(all of the restaurants listed, besides Buck's and Ray's are strip clubs, and they all have apostrophes), underscoring the fact, like Mario Batali reminding us in his way of Poor Yorick's fate

A lass: pour your ick.
A new whim: whore ratio.

nobody will understand this but me :)
and mike ollinger's great-great-great grandfather :o

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#37 Al Dente

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 12:47 AM

A lass:  pour your ick.
A new whim:  whore ratio.

nobody will understand this but me :)
and mike ollinger's great-great-great grandfather  :o

On that fateful date, Deputy Bob Ollinger left his shotgun, a double-barreled 10-gauge Colt sidelock, whose Damascus barrels had been sawed off to 18 inches, leaning against a wall of the prisoner’s room on the second floor of the courthouse at Lincoln, while he crossed the street to eat supper at a Mexican café. That was Ollinger’s first mistake. His second was leaving the Kid in charge of Deputy J. W. Bell.

His third mistake, of course, was taking a photograph of the enchilada he enjoyed at that cafe which was owned by one Bessie "Big Beans" Greenwood, Billy the Kid's main squeeze in Lincoln NM.

Michael Ollinger

 

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#38 Heather

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 06:20 AM

Talk to Ziebold and Trabocchi about Plotnicki.

Please don't ever say the P word ever again.

I can understand why someone might not want pictures to be taken. The point is that the rude way in which the message was conveyed, and the harrassing, over-the-top letter were not the way to go about getting the desired result. How about a line on the bottom of the menu, or posted discreetly somewhere in the restaurant that the management does not allow photos to be taken?

And without prior notification, any photos taken before being asked to stop are the property of the taker, so there is nothing to "cease and desist" anyway.

Edited by Heather, 03 January 2006 - 06:22 AM.


#39 mame11

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 09:54 AM

And without prior notification, any photos taken before being asked to stop are the property of the taker, so there is nothing to "cease and desist" anyway.

Um, yes the pictures belong to the person who took them but the "cease and desist" serves to stop the use of the pictures.

I need coffee too...

#40 JPW

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 10:36 AM

Please don't ever say the P word ever again.

Man, I miss all the good stuff by sleeping. :)
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#41 jcc

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 10:40 AM

This, to me, is a very interesting glimpse into the arena of that fuzzy division between bloggers and mainstream media that is gathering so much attention and will probably be one of the hottest issues of 2006.

Whether it's political blogs beating traditional press to stories due to what are generally regarded as loser credibility restrictions - or food blogs competing with the ivory tower of mainstream restaurant critics.

Mainstream publications do work with the publicity agents of restaurants and collaborate on producing images fit for publication to the reviewers audience - and when a restaurant lacks a publicist, I'm sure the owners take responsibility for the collaboration.

In this day and age, anyone with a digital camera - from a fancy phone to a digital SLR can capture a new dimension of their meal and publish it to a relatively wide audience.

I have two issues with this.

First, it can be obnoxious. Here, a quick snap with a camera phone certainly is better than a composed shot with a digital SLR - the attention the latter attracts is discouraging to a proprietor and confusing to other patrons (what's so interesting to merit a picture? a roach?)

Secondly, it adds overhead to a dining experience that I believe would impact the overall impression and objectivity. Clearly, in this case, it distorted what otherwise would have been a good review. It also kind of compromises your anonymousness as a reviewer. Restaurants may take more care plating the entree for the couple at table 12 bizarrely photographing each dish they consume. On a personal note - I can see my wife getting annoyed at all the snapshotting - and having her put off certainly would color my experience. :)

It's a tough issue - and certainly merits discussion. I appreciate Don leaving it open - however I feel it should be in a new thread. I've never been to Buck's personally, and I feel they've overreacted here.
But, I also think it is the beginning of many interesting dilemmas that will arise as the industry reacts to new types of exposure generated by the information age.

#42 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 10:56 AM

Restaurateurs take a risk every time a patron comes in the door. That risk is that the restaurant will do something that the diner does not like and the diner will deploy the "word of mouth" grapevine and tell friends that the restaurant sucks, or post sentiments on a website like DR.com. The ability to photograph the food and post it on the web, plays a role in the risk analysis. The word of mouth thing is beyond the control of the restaurant. But to my mind, when a diner goes to the trouble of taking a picture of the food, for whatever purpose, that is a positive development which indicates a lower risk of a negative review and a higher risk of a favorable review. Prohibiting the taking of pictures, in this light, borders on the irrational.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux, 03 January 2006 - 11:00 AM.

Please unload all firearms and remove ski masks before entering establishment.

#43 bilrus

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:11 AM

Prohibiting the taking of pictures, in this light, borders on the irrational.

Unless it would be disturbing to other customers due to issues such as usage of flash, tables packed closely together, etc.
Bill Russell

#44 jcc

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:11 AM

Restaurateurs take a risk every time a patron comes in the door. That risk is that the restaurant will do something that the diner does not like and the diner will deploy the "word of mouth" grapevine and tell friends that the restaurant sucks, or post sentiments on a website like DR.com.  The ability to photograph the food and post it on the web, plays a role in the risk analysis.  The word of mouth thing is beyond the control of the restaurant.  But to my mind, when a diner goes to the trouble of taking a picture of the food, for whatever purpose, that is a positive development which indicates a lower risk of a negative review and a higher risk of a favorable review.  Prohibiting the taking of pictures, in this light, borders on the irrational.

Ok... I absolutely agree with you, as long as you incorporate the risk of the patron being a crappy photographer into the analysis.

When I got married, even though I knew all my friends and family would be taking pictures, I still hired a professional. I needed the confidence that the moments that mattered the most, would be captured by a capeable individual with the right experience and the right equipment. Photos published in any widely read medium will be just as important to a nitpicky restauranteur as a professionally taken wedding party photo is to my wife.

I'm not defending the establishment here - I'm just trying to give voice to a contending disposition.

#45 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:20 AM

Ok...  I absolutely agree with you, as long as you incorporate the risk of the patron being a crappy photographer into the analysis.

When I got married, even though I knew all my friends and family would be taking pictures, I still hired a professional.  I needed the confidence that the moments that mattered the most, would be captured by a capeable individual with the right experience and the right equipment.  Photos published in any widely read medium will be just as important to a nitpicky restauranteur as a professionally taken wedding party photo is to my wife.

I'm not defending the establishment here - I'm just trying to give voice to a contending disposition.

I think my point was that it is impossible to control the quality of the word of mouth and slightly less impossible to control the quality of the pictures. But when someone goes to the trouble of taking a picture, it "generally" is a positive development. The exception to the general rule is the crabby diner who wants physical evidence of a what they felt was a crappy meal. But they won't know it was crappy until they ate it at which point the taking of a picture becomes a problem (presentation has been destroyed).
Please unload all firearms and remove ski masks before entering establishment.

#46 Sthitch

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:25 AM

I am not a fan of taking pictures of my food. I will leave that to other people, who like to do it. However, how this whole situation was handled reminds me of something attributed to Trosky; "Everyone has the right to be stupid, but Comrade MacDonald abuses the privilege." It seems that one can easily replace Comrade with Chef and MacDonald with Greenwood.
As for how this has impacted me, I have been talking to my family about somewhere to go for dinner this month, Buck's was on the list, it no longer is, now we just need to decided between Palena and Corduroy.

#47 dcfoodie

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:27 AM

First, it can be obnoxious.  Here, a quick snap with a camera phone certainly is better than a composed shot with a digital SLR - the attention the latter attracts is discouraging to a proprietor and confusing to other patrons (what's so interesting to merit a picture? a roach?)

Secondly, it adds overhead to a dining experience that I believe would impact the overall impression and objectivity.  Clearly, in this case, it distorted what otherwise would have been a good review.  It also kind of compromises your anonymousness as a reviewer.  Restaurants may take more care plating the entree for the couple at table 12 bizarrely photographing each dish they consume.  On a personal note - I can see my wife getting annoyed at all the snapshotting - and having her put off certainly would color my experience.  :)

These points are something that I have struggled with actually. It IS awkward to be taking pictures at a meal, and it DOES draw attention to yourself and has the potential to comprimise my anonymity. However, people like to see pictures on a blog and I find that the posts I do with pictures are better. Maybe that's just because I need to work on my writing style.

I can use my SLR to fix the quality, but then it's even more awkward.

My camera phone also doesn't have a flash. It has a light, but it's not very bright so it shouldn't bother anyone nearby.
Jason Storch
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#48 JLK

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:16 PM

Although the powers-that-be at Buck's have trouble making smart decisions at time (clearly), I still think Buck's is worth a trip. In my meals there, the food has been uniformly great and I love the atmosphere. We went in almost expecting service issues, but had none.

Jennifer


#49 tanabutler

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:41 PM

Not to be knee-jerk about it (or a jerk at all), but I wouldn't dream of going there after reading how the chef handled this. You sic your lawyer on someone taking pictures, when they were informed after the fact? And after the manager (?) has informed the bruised customer, who had been enjoying his meal and intending to praise it, that he doesn't need to pay attention to your little tirade?

Unless she were to exhibit some degree of contrition, and apologize lavishly for being a hothead, she has painted herself into a pretty air-free corner.

This is where "the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth" has more meanings than one.

Edited by tanabutler, 03 January 2006 - 01:41 PM.


#50 Kanishka

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:42 PM

As has been pointed out, the letter not only got the name of the restaurant incorrect, but had a pretty ugly typo. Is it at all possible that the email is a hoax? Those two mistakes are pretty unlawyerly. Just a theory. Jason, what do you think?

K




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