Recipes and copyright law

I’ve had several requests for recipes that I’ve mentioned here. I’ve been doing a bit of reading and soul-searching and making some decisions about how I interpret the copyright law. It reads:

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook.


I read this to mean that the listing of ingredients is not protected by copyright but the instructions are protected (the description and/or explanation that accompanies the recipe).

There are a good number of people who disagree with my interpretation. However, my conscience is just not comfortable repeating verbatim what someone has created to support their livelihood.

If I am using a published recipe that is available on-line then I will try to always link to that so you can have access to the recipe. If I’m using a recipe from a book or other printed source then I encourage you to succumb to your cookbook hoarding tendencies and buy the book…you’ll find lots of other recipes to try, I’m sure 🙂


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