Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Court Rules: No Copyright for Recipes

Great Aunt Minnie may have had a special sugar cookie recipe that she passed down only with pledges to keep it among the great secrets of the universe. But as treasured as it is, it's not protected by Copyright.

A recent ruling by the Sixth Circuit in a case involving former business partners confirmed that the list of ingredients and directions that comprise a recipe are no more protected than the list of names and numbers in a phone book.

The dispute arose between former restaurant partners Rosemarie Carroll and Larry Moore. After the pair split the forks, so to speak, Moore copied the recipes in Carroll's “Tomaydo-Tomahhdo Recipe Book”.

The Court held that when recipe books add enough additional editorial material, such as photos or anecdotes, the book can be copyrighted as a whole. But that still does not copyright the list of ingredients and basic directions, which the Court equated to an alphabetical listing in the white pages of a phone book.

So feel free to share all those Thanksgiving recipes!

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