Copyright and Recipes

November 8th, 2009 by Kelly Serjeantson

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Before I posted my first recipe on Kell’s Kitchen, I decide to research copyright, so I wouldn’t get myself into legal trouble.

I googled both the US and Canadian government web sites looking for information specifically regarding to copyright and recipes and I could only find something on the US copyright web site. However, the information there is very good and straight to the point.

Also, before you read an further, I might add that I’m not a lawyer, but a foodie, so please consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction.

In Canada, I recommend checking out Michael Geist’s blog. Michael Geist is  probably the most prominent authority on copyright in North America, especially when it applies to digital information. Maybe, Michael can even do a blog posting on copyright and recipes.

Highlights from the U.S. Copyright Office on recipes:

  • Listing ingredients as in recipes do not constitute copyright protection. However, recipes accompanied by explanations and/or directions do.
  • Recipes to have copyright protection must be the original work of the author. The recipe must be from the authors own intellectual efforts.
  • Photos and illustration may also qualify for copyright protection.
  • Even if a recipe has not been formally been registered, it still may be protected by copyright.
  • Copyright protection does not cover names, titles, or ideas.