Are cooking recipes copyrighted?

8 replies
Hi there -

I am looking to add some gluten-free recipes to my new membership site.

I have found a few plr recipes and wondered if anyone knew of anywhere where I could get a lot of plr articles of gluten free recipes.

Also I wondered if recipes were copyrighted the same as anything else written - as I am guessing a lot of people borrow them from each other for their cooks books all the time.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

John
#cooking #copyrighted #recipes
  • Profile picture of the author Ben Roy
    No, I don't believe that the recipes themselves are copyrighted. AllRecipes.com, one of the largest recipe sites on the Internet, has recipes from all the other sites and I'm relatively sure they never got permission to have them.
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    • Profile picture of the author Jack Duncan
      John,
      Here's a direct quote from a really good copyright attorney:

      "A mere listing of ingredients for a recipe is not copywritable. However, if a cookbook author spices up his or her recipes with explanatory material, such material is protectable."

      Recipes can also be protected under a patent...if there is a really unique step in the making of the food.

      Compilations of recipes are also protected...so be careful there. But the copyright only covers the selection and overall grouping of the recipes as a whole...not the individual recipes.

      And...copyright cannot protect a procedure...just the words that the cook uses to explain the procedure.

      Hope this helps,
      Jack
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    • Profile picture of the author KirkMcD
      The list of ingredients are not protected by copyright, but the directions on how to mix them are. Legally, if you don't have the permission of the author, you would need to rewrite the directions.


      U.S. Copyright Office - Recipes
      Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.
      Please also see for further discussion:
      Can a Recipe Be Stolen? - washingtonpost.com
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  • Profile picture of the author Ron Douglas
    Originally Posted by John Hillage View Post

    Hi there -

    I am looking to add some gluten-free recipes to my new membership site.

    I have found a few plr recipes and wondered if anyone knew of anywhere where I could get a lot of plr articles of gluten free recipes.

    Also I wondered if recipes were copyrighted the same as anything else written - as I am guessing a lot of people borrow them from each other for their cooks books all the time.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    John
    Here's what the law says about recipe copyright:

    U.S. Copyright Office - Recipes

    Basically, you can't use some else's unique description for any recipe. Substantial literary expression is a copyright.
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  • Profile picture of the author James A. Miller
    Most of the time recipes aren't copyrightable. They lack originality. On the other hand, a collection of recipes can be copyrighted as well as recipes that give you additional and original advice on how to prepare a meal.
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  • Profile picture of the author jacktackett
    As folks have stated, lists of ingredient's can not be copyrighted. But just because something can not be copyrighted does not mean it can't be protected. As another poster stated recipes can be protected by other means - typically trade secretes, but patents are possible too.

    You should really consult a lawyer too - taking legal advice, even from a knowledgeable lay person as myself (;-)), should not be trusted.

    good luck,
    --Jack
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  • Profile picture of the author coco28
    I make lots of curry from recipes I find on the internet or in books. I never have the self discipline to stick to the recipe though - I always add more of something I like, or even ingredients which aren't included in the original recipe. The final result is usually then based on something which is unrecognizable from the original recipe. I think I could then call the recipe my own, then...

    Don't be too liberal with the spices, though. One curry I made from a recipe I "enhanced" with way too much extra spices caused my eyes to swell up to such an extent I looked like I'd gone 8 rounds with Mike Tyson. Tasted very nice, though...
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    coco

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  • Profile picture of the author John Hillage
    Thanks for the really helpful advise guys - much appreciated.
    John
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