As a recipe mailing list listmom, I know that many people are concerned about recipe copyright.
And as a recipe listmom, I've done lots of research into the issue.
Here's what I've found:
Copyright exists to protect original, *artistic* works (think photographs, paintings, poems, plays, books, etc.). As recipes are essentially a description of a technique, they cannot--with certain exceptions--be copyrighted.
- A set of ingredients cannot be copyrighted.
- Recipe directions MAY be copyrighted, if they have significant *original* prose. (...and "Mix all ingredients" is NOT original!)
- A single recipe may not be copyrighted unless it has significant *original* prose.
- A set of recipes (as in a cookbook or magazine) CAN be copyrighted, under collection copyright.
So, I believe that it is OK for us to share recipes on this website from any source, so long as we do not house a collection of recipes from one single source (like a cookbook or magazine) as one downloadable file. Recipes from cookbooks and magazines are definitely a part of most of the files here...but they are only a *part* of the file (and in no way are any complete magazines or cookbooks here!).
If you are the original copyright holder of any recipe on this site, and do not want it to be a part of it, please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will remove your recipe(s). Be clear about which recipes in which files you want me to remove.
Recipes on this site may or may not include original source information. Omission of original source is not deliberate or meant to do an injustice to the original recipe creator. The original source is often simply lost as recipes are shared on the Internet (both on websites and on mailing lists). I simply prefer to openly share recipes so that all may enjoy, even if I share a recipe without the source.
Recipe formatters cannot and do not claim copyright on the recipes they've simply put into format from other sources; copyright resides only with the original author and publisher.
And here's the official word from the Library of Congress website: A mere listing of ingredients is not protected under copyright law. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a collection of recipes as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.
If you'd like to see how two other respected cooking websites handle copyright:
Arielle's Recipe Archives
If you REALLY want to read lots of information, follow the links from the copyright article at Encarta.
Finally, here's a couple of my favorite recipe quotes:
"A recipe does not truly belong to anyone.
It is only a guide, only a skeletal framework.
You must fill in the flesh according to your nature and desire.
Your life, your love will bring these words into full creation.
This cannot be taught.
So please, cook, love, feel, create."
--Edward Espee Brown
A recipe is only a theme,
which an intelligent cook can
play each time with a variation.
-- Madame Benoit
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