- Good question
- Read a few EULA, privacy policies and terms of service to get a full answer, but generally:
- You are expected to have your own back up of anything you upload
- Whether or not the site says you have the rights to the data, they cannot track whether or not users give you credit for what you have shared
- Answer for yourself:
- What kind of credit are you looking for?
- What website features must be minimally available before you'll even bother checking whether or not their terms of service live up to your requirements?
I think this is a great question and needs to be addressed in areas far more broad than just cooking and recipes. "The cloud" is a unique and interesting place to store and share data, but brings up a whole host of issues like:
- Who technically owns the rights to the uploaded data?
- Who should be responsible for backing up that data?
- How is the data accessed?
- Who can access it?
And then there's the additional question of, do you want to crowd source feedback on your recipes, or just have them available for people to look at? And probably a whole bunch more questions.
A good rule of thumb when using any cloud service, is that you and you alone are responsible for backing up your data. Even if a company has the financial resources to back up everything (and most of them do back it up), they're not going to guarantee something like that because all technology is fallible and there is usually someone with a fantastic lawyer around every corner, just waiting for a guarantee to fail. Read a couple EULA (end-user license agreements) and/or privacy policies/terms of service and you'll get a clear picture of just how often they guarantee your access to your data. Usually accessing your data isn't a problem (if it was, why would people use the cloud?) and as such, it's something you shouldn't worry about beyond having a copy of your recipes on a computer at home somewhere in addition to sharing them in the cloud. (That being said, back up your home computer too.)
Another good rule: don't ever expect something stored in the cloud to actually be secure. Generally with recipes it's not an issue if your data is stolen (like it could be if you were storing tax returns), but all of the marketing around consumer electronics does a really good job of making people forget that even PayPal and the US federal government were hacked. Cloud storage is not secure storage. In fact, think of the Internet as the Wild West: we're still trying to figure out who is here and who has enough power to actually enforce laws.
I have uploaded a few recipes to a Dropbox account to share with a relatively small group of friends. We all have access to upload, read and download, but there is no place to leave comments or feedback on any of the recipes. It's also kind of a clunky method of sharing if I ever wanted to give the entire world access because it's just a link, not a webpage full of brightly colored photos that people can click on. I believe that Dropbox's terms of service state that I am the legal owner of the data in my Dropbox account, but I'd have to double check that, and I have no idea how it works if a friend uploads a recipe to my account. Whether or not my friends give credit if they re-post any of those recipes, is up to whoever does the re-posting; both Dropbox and the new site won't have a way to track if credit was given where credit was due.
I tend to find recipes on allrecipes.com, although I have yet to upload any of my own. It's a great place to for people to share recipes, leave feedback, suggest modifications, upload pictures, etc. I can't even remember if I read their EULA so I don't know if it claims the rights to the recipes, or if they belong to the original poster. Either way, allrecipes.com can't give credit if a user copies and pastes your recipe onto another site; the only way to give credit is if a user posts a link back to your recipe on allrecipes.com.
Credit vs. Copyright
For that matter, "credit" could be all sorts of things, although I am by no means an expert of how recipes can be legally protected. In the open source world (think Linux if you aren't very technical) there are actually several different kinds of licenses, which do hold up in court, unlike generic "credit." I'm not deeply familiar with a lot of them, but here are a couple examples of the differences:
- You can use and modify anything, but you cannot make a profit off of any of it
- You can use and modify anything, but you have to share your modifications with the world and credit the original writer(s)
It's great that you are thinking about all the legal junk behind sharing recipes (or anything really) because we don't do it nearly enough. But you'll also want to think about what you mean when you want to "share" your recipes.
- Do you want to share them with just friends, or the whole world?
- Do you want feedback or comments on your recipes?
- Would you like to upload pictures, tips, etc.? Or just the recipe itself?
- Do you want to be able to upload a bunch of Word files you already have written? Or would you rather have to type each of them into the website by hand?
- What kind of credit do you want for your recipes? How enforceable does this credit need to be?
Being able to answer these questions will help you greatly in your end goal.