If you write a recipe blog, there are two main questions you may consider. The first question is whether any of your recipes or blog posts infringe copyright. The second issue concerns which part of your blog receives copyright protection.
Generally, a recipe is made up four parts: the ingredients (and quantities), the method, the specific instructions, and any images. This article discusses what is not protected by copyright in a recipe and to what extent you can protect your recipe by copyright.
Is a recipe copyright material?
The first rule is that copyright does not protect an idea. So the essence of a dish, captured by the specific combination of ingredients that create the flavour, cannot be copyright material. Anyone is free to recreate the same flavour without fear of infringing copyright.
Ingredients and quantities
Information, such as the ingredients and quantities, is also not protected by copyright. These details are factual and do not attract copyright on their own.
The method and technique such as roasting or frying are also not protected by copyright. The creator of a recipe can’t stop people from using the same methods for a dish because it’s not protected.
If the essential elements of a recipe, i.e. the ingredients and the process, are not protected by copyright, then people can copy recipes and post them online without obtaining permission from the original author.
However, if you were to write the recipe down with your own instructions and descriptions, it would be a “literary work”, which the Copyright Act says is protected by copyright. This is the case even if the combination and quantities of ingredients are not new.
So if you published a recipe online, your post would be protected by copyright, and you would own the copyright (unless you wrote it as part of your employment). If anyone wants to reproduce the written recipe, they would need your permission. Following the recipe and cooking the recipe, of course, is allowed. If it weren’t, people would be infringing copyright every time they followed a published recipe!
The same applies if you were to record your recipe in the form of a video or audio clip.
In addition to the written recipe, the other part of a recipe that may attract copyright is any photos or illustrations that go along with the instructions. Firstly, you should not use photos or images that are protected by copyright without getting permission from the copyright owner. Secondly, if you are using your images of your own, they will be protected by copyright and others should not use them without your permission.
Remember that copyright protects recipes that have been recorded in some way. You will not be infringing the copyright of a recipe if you put the instructions in words of your own, even if the ingredients and process are the same.
If you get inspiration for a recipe from someone else, you could attribute it to them by writing “Inspired by” or “Adapted from” so that you are acknowledging it is not your original creation.
For more information about protecting your copyright, get in touch with LegalVision on 1300 544 755.