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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

    
Recipe Copyright
Is there such thing?
hannamyluv




msg:916885
 12:44 am on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have a stack of old,old magazines from my Aunt, some date back as far as 1915. They are old home magazines (Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, etc.).

I've been thinking about compiling the recipes from these old magazines(strange as they are) and selling them in an ebook or some such thing.

Does anyone know if recipes are copyrightedand for how long?

 

ememi




msg:916886
 2:37 am on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hey hannamyluv

Here's some info:

[copyright.gov...]

A lot of recipe sites I've looked at include statements like this:

[northbound-train.com...]

If you intend to produce a commercial publication, it may be a good idea to consult an attorney.

Travel




msg:916887
 4:50 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

basic rules (I'm not a lawyer...yadayada...) for recipes- directions can be copyrighted, ingredient lists cannot.

Blue_Wizard




msg:916888
 12:53 am on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

nothing is in the public domain unless the author of the work specifically puts it there

Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, etc.
are all still in business and their back issues are published and not in the public domain.

Published works are protected by copyright and cannot be redistributed or reproduced for commercial purposes without the copyright owners consent.

Just because the copyright date in the publication may say 1915 does not mean that the work is now public domain.
Chances are Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, all renewed those copyrights in 1978 and they now have the same life plus protection of all copyrighted works.

In this case it would go by the life of the business entity and as pointed out all Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping are still quite alive and kicking.

bird




msg:916889
 1:33 am on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just because the copyright date in the publication may say 1915 does not mean that the work is now public domain.
Chances are Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, all renewed those copyrights in 1978 and they now have the same life plus protection of all copyrighted works.

Copyright can't be "renewed".
If the author of the work died more than 70 years ago, then the work *is* in the public domain, and will remain there for all eternity.

But then, the cooking procedure can't be copyrighted anyway. The copyright is on the expression, ie. on the phrasing of the instructions. Use your own words to describe the same procedure, and you shouldn't have a problem. The only way to protect the recipe as such would be to patent it as an "invention", but patents expire much earlier than copyright.

Blue_Wizard




msg:916890
 1:53 am on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Copyright can't be "renewed".

actually that's not accurate works published before 1978 were renewable and can be renewed visit www.loc.gov/copyright and download the circulars

"If the author of the work died more than 70 years ago, then the work *is* in the public domain, and will remain there for all eternity. "

That is also inaccurate. Just because the author died the work does not automatically fall into the public domain.
it has to be placed there. If the author designated an heir to their intellectual properties. Then that heir can file a registration showing the transfer of ownership.

In the specific instance the original poster cited the author which is a business entity is still in existence and undoubtedly would have renewed their copyrights

recipies can be copyrighted as part of a book of recipes use form TX, for example go to any book store pick up a book of recpies and look at the copyright info on the inside cover.

In this case the original poster is seeking to republish a segement of an orignal work, best to get permission.

BlueSky




msg:916891
 6:34 am on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Anything published prior to 1923 is in the public domain right now. Anything from 1923-1963, is also in the public domain UNLESS a renewal was filed in which case add 95 years to the published date to determine the expiration.

Chances are Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, all renewed those copyrights in 1978 and they now have the same life plus protection of all copyrighted works

This applies to works created and/or published in 1978 or later. For corporate works, the rules are slightly different. It doesn't go by the life of the corporation.

bird




msg:916892
 12:10 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just because the author died the work does not automatically fall into the public domain.

If the author is known, it does:
[copyright.gov...]

But those are really moot points. There's no good reason for hannamyluv to copy those recipes verbatim. And since the factual data of a recipe can't be protected, rephrasing it in her own words will obviate any copyright questions.

There may also be a number of old methods and tools mentioned in old recipes. Adding explanations to those might alone be enough to create a new work with rights independent of the original.

And to go even a step further, in some case it may be useful to replace old techniques with modern ones, creating a new recipe alltogether (as far as copyright is concerned), even though the resulting meal may remain the same.

No need to blindly copy stuff. Be creative!

Blue_Wizard




msg:916893
 10:54 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the author is known, it does:
[copyright.gov...]

Again that is conditional on the author not having specified in a will who inherits the copyright. If someone inherited it or there is a common law relative would logically assume ownership of the property they simply file a new copyright as a transfer of ownership and the copyright is valid for the life plus 75 of the one who it was transfered to.

It's fairly safe to assume most owners of copyrighted works in this century specify who takes ownership of that property when they die.

Point is the two business entities the original poster cited as his source are still in existence so those copyright are still active- the "life" of the corporate entity is still current and active.

Altering the text in your own words doesn't exempt you from litigation if it can be proven that you knowingly got the material from another source. Any copyright attorney worth their salt can tell you that. And by posting to this board that starter of this thread has already acknowledge having prior knowledge of the copyrighted work.

Where are you people getting this idea that a collection of recipies cannot be protected by copyright?
Ever seen a Betty Crocker cook book? Notice the publishers copyright notice on the inside?

A big thing to consider to is the level of liability- if you are just an individual "borrowing" someone elses copyrighted work,
you don't have the corporate blanket from protecting your assets if litigation were to arise.

When in doubt always write to the source and ask for permission.
The worst they can say is no.
But you may be suprised - you may get a yes and finanical backing from those magazines who may not even be aware their is a renewed interest in those old works they own.

jimbeetle




msg:916894
 11:39 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'd say leave the compilation to the magazines. Chances are they've already issued something like "Recipes from 50 years Ago." As compilations can also be copyrighted you might be getting into a web from which you can't get untangled.

But why not use them for inspiration? Update them a bit. After all, ovens, ingredients, kitchen appliances have all changed. Add sources for hard to find ingredients. Add some narrative. For example, you can't get much more generic than butter cookies:

Butter Cookies A recipe published in Good Housekeeping back in nineteen ought eight called for exactly the same ingredients many people use today. It also called for the housewife to spend about 45 minutes creaming together the butter and sugar -- with nothing but a wooden spoon! That's not for me. I just plop all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, pulse a few times and I'm done. I ruined a few batches trying to figure out what they meant by a "medium" oven, then found that 350 degrees works like a charm. One thing is still the same, the kitchen smells great!

You might still run into a couple of sticky points but if you write carefully you should be able to do it without crossing any lines.

And, of course, if in doubt - ask permission.

bird




msg:916895
 6:11 pm on Feb 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Where are you people getting this idea that a collection of recipies cannot be protected by copyright?

Where did I say that?
What I said (as did Travel in post #3) is that the basic facts that a recipe is based on cannot be copyrighted. Copyright is always and exclusively about the expression. This includes the phrasing of the instructions, and may also include a compilation of certain types of data (the "expression" of a collection is in the selection of its parts).

There can't be a copyright on the basic facts like: "This recipe consists of the following ingredients combined in a specific way". A business producing food after a special recipe will protect that through trade secrets or patents instead. A publisher distributing the recipes has no way to protect the underlying facts. Facts can't be copyrighted.

Ever seen a Betty Crocker cook book? Notice the publishers copyright notice on the inside?

Yes, and this copyright notice protects the collection of receipes, and the way each individual recipe is expressed. In other words, don't copy any of the receipes verbatim, and don't duplicate the collection (eg. by publishing all receipes from one book on a web site).

If you look at a dozen books, and rephrase three recipes from each, then you have both created a new form of expression for the recipes, and you have created a new collection. You will then own the copyright for that new work.

Altering the text in your own words doesn't exempt you from litigation

Nothing excempts you from litigation. But if you neither copy the expression nor the collection, then such litigation won't have any legal basis.

When in doubt always write to the source and ask for permission.

This may or may not be good advice, depending on the circumstances.
If you're willing to invest a little work creating something new, then there's no point in asking anyone. If you prefer to just use existing material, then by all means ask!

graywolf




msg:916896
 12:28 pm on Feb 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I once took a class with a famous chef from Food TV. Here is a paraphrased version of what he said:

I get a lot my ideas from old cookbooks and magazines. I use them as a starting point, update the ingredients to whats available now and modify the seasoniongs to suit my liking. You canít copywright an ingredient list, only the method. However in the industry it is customary to change/modify/substitue at least three ingredients. There are some recipies that have been in use for hundreds of years and are cleary public domain. If youíre going to use one of the mother sauces like bachemel thereís just no way to do it that hasnít been done already.

gussie




msg:916897
 10:06 pm on Feb 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'll play the devil and ask the bigger question: does the world really need these recipes to be copied and re-published? Personally, in cookbooks I look for new ideas, fresh ways of doing things. There are a million cookbooks out there, 90% are just the same old same old.

I have some cookbooks from the 30's, and their main interest to me is as a window into the world my grandmother lived in. There is a recipe for "mock turkey" that calls for 3 lbs of veal breast! How things have changed!

jpell




msg:916898
 11:31 pm on Feb 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

"(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work."

Taken from here: [copyright.gov...]

Procedure.... Here is the list of ingredients, this is what you do with them...

Who is to say that two people don't have the same procedure for a sunny side up egg?
Ingredients:
Bacon Fat
Egg
Salt
Pepper

Heat bacon fat in pan. When hot crack egg carefully over pan. Season with salt and pepper. Let sit for about a minute. Flip and let cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Millions of people cook their egg the same way. Yes, this example is extreme, but if I post it on my website as a recipe for sunny side up eggs, can I claim copyright infringement if someone else does?

Dan_Norder




msg:916899
 12:26 am on Feb 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Recipes are procedures and not covered by copyright, so you can reprint them as you wish as long as you make original text explaining the procedure.

Anything in the U.S. before 1923 is in the public domain and is freely usable (even without changing anything) because those copyrights expired.

Contrary to Blue_Wizard's statements, reprints of old copyrighted items only get new copyright protection for NEW parts, so if these recipes were reprinted the new copyright only covers any changes that were made at that time and are completely irrelevant for covering the original recipe.

U.S. copyrights in the decades shortly after 1923 (not 100% clear on when it changes, but the posts above that mention sound right) had to be registered and then also renewed. (As in filed for renewal of the original, not try to republish and get a new copyright because that doesn't count.) If there is no record of them being renewed, then they are also in the public domain.

Sounds like this is a pretty clear cut case. Anything before 1923 is free to use for any purpose, things slightly after you can look up if you care to, otherwise they can be reworded to avoid any copyright issues at all.

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