[Ansteorra] A Storm is Brewing

Rose rose_welch at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 4 22:28:46 PDT 2010

It seems like you basically took the long way in saying what I said. The recipe itself is not protected. Descriptions, illustrations, explanations and so on can be. If someone from Cooks or whoever took the recipe, tried it out, and added their own explanation and illustration to the original recipe, that would not be copyright infringement.

In other words, recipes themselves cannot be copyrighted, and if the wording is substantially changed, then it was most certainly not copyright infringement. :)

Yes, there are grey areas with recipes (and databases and music and books) but not much here. There has been a ton of litigation about this exact issue, involving everyone from pizza shop owners to Jerry Seinfield's wife. The expression is protected, not the idea.

In addition, derivative works are not against copyright. Specifically, a derivative work that contains a substantial amount of new material is copyrightable. A recipe with new explanations and illustrations would certainly be considered different enough from the 
original to be regarded as a 'new work', as Jerry Seinfeld's wife found out. However, yhe Mona Lisa with a Sharpie mustache would probably not be. :)

Regardless, the point was that the editor committed several large moral transgressions, and is now being severely punished for it.


If you give a child a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a child to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. But if you teach a child to learn, you feed him for a lifetime and he doesn't have to just eat fish. :)

--- On Fri, 11/5/10, Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com> wrote:

From: Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com>
Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] A Storm is Brewing
To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." <ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org>
Date: Friday, November 5, 2010, 12:11 AM

On Fri, 5 Nov 2010, rose_welch at yahoo.com wrote:
> I have to say that recipes themselves cannot be copyrighted, and if
> the wording was substantially changed, then it was most certainly
> not copyright infringement.

I did a Google search for
    copyright recipe

The first hit is from the US Copyright Office, at

"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.

"Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright.
'Original' means that an author produced a work by his or her own
intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work."

However, derivative works are a violation of copyright.  Changing the
wording of something copyrighted *is* copyright violation.

The third hit was
which discusses the whole issue, saying that there are unclear

Danielis de Lindo Colonia
-- Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com
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