Recipes and copyright infringement

42 posts in this topic


Very few cookbooks have just one recipe. Same with websites with weblinks. To quote the website that you refer to, the "Fair Use" link,, from United States Copyright Office, they underline that it is not clear how much you can copy claiming it to be "fair use", and I quote:

"There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work".

You omitted the next sentence from the quote: "Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances."


It is not simply a matter of "how much" (unless you count the de minimis rule). The amount copied is only one of the four factors used to determine if a particular use is fair.



Regardless the source always have to be clear, and, as a matter of fact, even if you use your own words to describe what you do, as it was suggested here, you'd be infringing on copyright if you aren't quoting the source.

As has already been mentioned, copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. If that's all you copy (as per Editor Bob's suggestion) then there will be no infringement, and thus no need for a "fair use" defence.


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Very few cookbooks have just one recipe.

true, and i believe most cookbooks' copyrights protect specific recipe collections rather than the individual recipes.


i'm not sure that the US is the only "bad guy" on this one. the us supreme court justified extending copyright protection another 20 years partly on international harmonization grounds (our previous term was shorter than the EU's).


modern copyright law is certainly a strange beast. practically any lawrence lessig book contains some "unfair" and/or aggressive tactics pulled by copyright holders, and this video explores some paradoxes arising out of music, technology, and copyright law.


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