Thursday, August 9, 2012

A note on copyright

I received a friendly note from someone regarding the copyright of recipes I post. Here is the law from the copyright office:

"Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.
Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.
For further information about copyright, see Circular 1, Copyright Basics. Note that if your recipe has secret ingredients that you do not want to reveal, you may not want to submit it for registration, because applications and deposit copies are public records"
So listing ingredients is not protected by copyright law, but I believe a word-for-word description of how those ingredients are put together could be subject to copyright, so in those cases, I have done my best to acknowledge my original post or add a link where needed (or both). However, factual information such as temperature of an oven, time to bake, etc. are not copyrighted even in the text of the recipe. The literary expression of how a list of ingredients or facts are written up can be copyrighted (for more information, see , but this is why I have taken great pains to not copy a recipe description word for word without acknowledging it. Furthermore, if you change the amount of ingredients, add to or remove ingredients from the body of the recipe, you are no longer violating copyright law because the process is now changed.

Finally, all of the photos I use are either ones I have personally taken (which ARE copyrighted) or I've received permission from a family member to publish their photos on my blog. I will acknowledge them any time I use a photo I have not personally taken. This is also notice that any use of my photos require my permission to use with proper acknowledgement to me for taking the photo. This is why I do not upload my photos to recipe sites.

Okay -- glad my friend brought this up. I think this is always a tricky area, but I am certain that since I started this blog and researched copyright law of recipes that I have not violated the law; however, there are always times when you could find a recipe that is exactly like mine. If that happens, don't assume I copied them -- perhaps they copied me!

Now that the legal mumble jumble is done -- just enjoy my recipes. This blog is NOT about the law -- it is about cooking and life and family, all of which I love!

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