SugarHero Says TV Channel Infringed Snow Globe Cupcake Video

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By Anandashankar Mazumdar

A Utah-based dessert blogger who makes edible snow globes sued the Food Network today, claiming the cable channel made a shot-for-shot copy of her social media video demonstrating how to make the novelty treat ( LaBau v. Television Food Network G.P. , C.D. Cal., No. 17-4077, complaint filed 6/1/17 ).

Elizabeth LaBau, a trained pastry chef, recipe developer and food writer and photographer who launched her SugarHero blog in 2011, said in her complaint that a video she posted in December got 5.6 million views in three weeks, which was when the Food Network posted its own snow globe cupcake video on Facebook.

Recipes and food preparations in general are not protected by copyright law. However, according to the complaint, the Food Network video copied numerous protectable elements of LaBau’s video, such as “choices of shots, camera angles, colors, and lighting, textual descriptors, and other artistic and expressive elements” of LaBau’s video.

“We hope Food Network will recognize the harm to Elizabeth and take steps to address this wrongful misappropriation and make her whole,” her counsel, William D. Bowen, told Bloomberg BNA in an email message. According to the complaint, Food Network did not respond to requests that she be given credit in the video.

Recipe Went Viral in 2014

LaBau said in her complaint that she first posted the snow globes recipe in 2014, and it was shared on Facebook “over 740,000 times in just a few days.”

The web-hosting service she was using “estimated she was receiving 500,000 hits an hour, and it completely shut down her site for a period of time,” according to the complaint, resulting in a tripling of her monthly advertising income.

LaBau’s SugarHero website gets 300,000 to 500,000 page views a month, according to the complaint. The SugarHero Dessert Recipes page has 240,000 followers. Food Network’s Facebook page has 19 million followers. According to the complaint, the Food Network Facebook video has garnered 11 million views, which amounts to “business and attention that would have gone to” LaBau, rather than to the Food Network.

Food Network is jointly owned by Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. and Tribune Media Co. A representative of Scripps Networks declined to comment in response to a request from Bloomberg BNA.

The Law Offices of William D. Bowen, Hacienda Heights, Calif., represented LaBau.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anandashankar Mazumdar in Washington at AMazumdar@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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