- This topic has 3 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated April 1, 2003 at 12:25 pm by .
- April 1, 2003 at 12:25 pm #249222
Bonnie in NC writes:
interesting that you said the ingredients can’t be copyrighted, just
the directions (and the column in your case).>>
to adapt them some in order to do that? Also, I wonder about my own
recipes that I have developed if I include them in the book–will the
company that publishes the cookbook then be able to use them?>>
Hi Bonnie, and welcome to the list,
Copyright issues seem to make the rounds of various lists about
once a year, and I guess this is the case again this year since this
is literally the third time in two weeks that I’ve posted to a list on the
Please understand I’m not a lawyer, and an intellectual properties
attorney who is knowledgeable on these laws could answer with
far more clarity and understanding of this subject than I can.
*However,* here’s what I wrote to another list just yesterday:
“I need to speak up here as an award-winning author and
I didn’t mean to offend or to cause anyone to be
insulted; but as a published writer whose words have indeed been
plagiarized, I know what that feels like to have copyright infringement
Now, that said, I would like to clarify about copyright infringement
because I think there’s a misperception going on here. First of
all, while a recipe itself–including the ingredients list–cannot be
copyrighted, the *directions* to that recipe most certainly *can* be
and *are* copyrightable. The ingredients are not.
Technically, one’s writing is copyrighted even if one hasn’t gone
through the *formality* of applying for copyright protection. The
laws are tricky, however, and electronic rights and hard copy
rights are now buzz words in the professional writing community,
thanks to Tasini vs NYTimes, <https://www.nwu.org/tvt/tvthome.htm>.
There are also various kinds of copyrights. The author of a short
story that appears in an anthology might wish to copyright that
story, but at the same time, the publisher will copyright the entire
anthology in which the story appears. As a result, there are, in
essence, two copyrights on that story, as I understand it. The
same would hold true for an individual author’s recipe directions
that went into a cookbook if that author chose to exercise those
rights. But again, *not* the ingredient list.
I’m not an attorney, however. I’m a professional writer and editor.
You can find out more on copyrights and what they can and can’t
do at the following USA government sites:
Now, since you’re developing a cookbook, you might consider a
few things along the way:
1. If there is any opportunity to have the cookbook judged in
competition, you get points for creating the recipe ingredients in
such a way as to parallel the recipe directions themselves. For
example, if you need to add milk, then butter, then eggs to a
recipe, make sure they are put in that order in the ingredient list.
2. If you’ve adapted a recipe from a cookbook, but you’ve
*modified* the recipe itself (actually changed the ingredients, or
quantities), you might at least consider giving credit to the cookbook
that initially had the idea, but it’s *not* a violation of copyright if you
don’t *providing* you’ve rewritten the directions in your own words.
3. Put in some tips throughout the pages to spice the pages and
encourage their being read.
4. Add some anecdotes to the recipes…where they came from,
any special family occasions where they’ve been traditionally
5. Since it’s going to be a cookbook created by homeschooling
families, why not have a splash of the children’s art work throughout
the book, and perhaps even a collage for the front cover? Then
you’ll have a book truly created out of memories. You can even
enhance this idea by adding the children’s perceptions of how to
make brownies, pasta, and so on (no fair cheating and using those
already circulating the Internet! lol).
Good luck with the cookbook, and I hope this gives you some
ideas to make the experience even more worthwhile. I also hope
this has answered your questions, Bonnie.
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