The Expanding Circle

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Recipe Copyright

Posted by tinako on December 30, 2010

Over time, several people have asked if I have permission to post the recipes I have here.  The answer is no, I have no permission for a single recipe posted at this site.  I don’t need it.  It is not required by law or even by etiquette.

This is a pretty good explanation based on case law.  And here is the original law for your reference.

In sum, authors cannot copyright a list of ingredients.  I’m not allowed to exactly copy their recipe text or photos without permission, but I do not do that.  In most cases etiquette says I should give credit, and I do.

Here’s what I do.  I use someone’s recipe to make something, taking note of changes I make.  Then I write out what I did, in my own words.  I also take a picture of what I made and use that.  And then as a matter of courtesy and honesty I give credit to their inspiration.  If I didn’t change anything (except write it in my own words), I say the recipe is “from” them.  But I almost always change something, and I don’t even use the “three ingredients” rule they mention in that above posting.  I’m not stingy – their recipe inspired me; unless the recipe bears almost no resemblance to the original, I give credit.

So if you want to see the author’s original ingredients, tested directions, variations, and professional photos, you’ll have to buy or borrow their book or visit their web site.  My web site is about what I made, and that’s what you get.

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