‘Pass it on’ says Jamie Oliver

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Now this is clever. Jamie Oliver, in an effort to ‘get the country cooking again’, has launched a campaign called ‘Jamie’s Ministry of Food‘. The idea is to get people to start up small cooking schools all over the country by starting a ‘pass it on’ chain to teach Oliver’s simple recipes to friends. The name was inspired by a campaign during World War II in which the British government appointed the Ministry of Food to help families make the most of wartime rations by setting up a national network of ‘Food Advice’, educating the public about proper nutrition so they’d be healthy and fighting fit.

It’s great to see how intellectual property sharing methods are being used here. Oliver enables people to download high res logos (affiliating themselves to the campaign) to advertise their classes and has also given away recipes from his new book for free on his MySpace channel.

But the Terms and conditions on the campaign website are confusing. Everything on the site is restricted under copyright and trademark law, say the standard terms, ‘unless expressly stated otherwise’.

Intellectual Property Rights Including Copyright

  1. The names, images and logos identifying Jamie Oliver, Channel 4, all of our associated companies or third parties and any products and services are proprietary marks of these parties. Nothing in the Terms shall be construed as conferring to you any licence or right under any intellectual property right of all the above parties unless expressly stated otherwise.

‘Otherwise’ appears on this page where you can download ‘some cool logo’s to help you publicise your own Pass It On event’ but there is no detail on how far you are able to go here: use the logos on your website? use the logos offline only? use the logos if you are a commercial company in the food industry? offer the download from other sites?

The lack of detail is probably unimportant for most – but it is this lack of clarity that comes about the law is so completely out of synch with newly-accepted practice such as the non-commercial sharing of trademarks and copyright online.

What it also shows is how companies are having to experiment with practice methods of controlling their intellectual property without the aid of the law. A beautiful example of this is on the registration page of the site where Oliver asks that people ‘promise’ (without any reference to this in the legal Terms and conditions) that they only register to receive information if they are willing ‘to learn a recipe then Pass It On to at least two people’.

I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

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