The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

About posting copywrited recipes....

RFMonaco's picture

About posting copywrited recipes....

It seems I was a bit hasty in posting a recipe from KA (King Arthur) without the full required acknowlegements to the original source. Merely posting with "KA" was not enough. With some guidance from our leader Floyd, I requested more info from KA, this was they're reply...

"Thank you for your email. Yes, you can post our recipes online. We do request that you list King Arthur Flour as the source of the recipe, and include our current copyright:

©2008 The King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Customer Care
King Arthur Flour

Baker's Catalogue, Inc
100% Employee Owned~ 100% Committed to Quality

On Sat Jul 05 18:34:59 2008, wrote:


Question concerning your recipes:

May I copy verbatim the recipes and photos you send in your e- newsletter in other bread forums if the source of the info is noted?
If so, EXACTLY what do I have to note concerning the source?

Thank you,
RF Monaco

Who knew??? ;-)

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Last summer, I took a class on writing cookbooks at a writers conference in Aspen.


It is rather difficult to copyright a recipe, and it is generally felt if you make three changes to the recipe, it is no longer the same recipe.


Change it from King Arthur flour to "Bread Flour," change the riser from active dry yeast to instant dry yeast (or vice versa ), change from cups to grams, change the amount of yeast or salt, change to using a preferment, or a different preferment.... and it's a new recipe.


Also, if you put in your own instructions, rather than using the copyright holders, it becomes significantly changed.


With many of my recipes, I mention that it was inspired by a recipe in this book or that, on this web page or that.


Still, it is courteous to give credit where credit is due, but it can be difficult for someone to claim that a copyright infringement occurred if you didn't just copy the recipe.




PaddyL's picture

..., if they're quoted verbatim, that can be copyrighted.  A list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted.  Phrases like "mix until well blended" or "stir in enough flour to..." are so widely used that they cannot be copyrighted either.  The best way to get around all this is to give full credit where the credit is due.  It's only polite, as well.

Rosalie's picture

I belong to some knitting listservs, and every now and again the issue of copyright comes up.  It's usually innocent enough at the beginning, but before you know it a full-blown riot has erupted.  Well - that's an exaggeration, but the list moderator eventually has to come in and put the kibosh on it.

The trouble is that it's such a complex topic, and even the experts aren't sure.  What it often comes down to is what a court decides.

Many people say that it's the expression of the pattern (or the recipe) that's copywritten, not the pattern (or the recipe) itself.  And, as Mike points out, art relies on inspiration, which often starts with something that is copyrighted.

RF, you did right by coming back and posting the copyright info (did you go back into the original post and add it there too?), and especially by letting us know.  I see a lot of recipes posted with or without attribution, and I wonder.


fancypantalons's picture

"Many people say that it's the expression of the pattern (or the recipe) that's copywritten, not the pattern (or the recipe) itself."

That's not just what many people say, that's the law.  You simply cannot copyright a procedure.  You can copyright a specific expression of that procedure (ie, the layout, certain aspects of word choice, etc), but if I were to copy a raw knitting pattern (yeah, I'm a knitter, too :) or a recipe, I am not violating the law, as the material is not copyrightable.  Period.

This would by why, for example, Coke is extremely paranoid about protecting their recipe... the only thing protecting them is trade secret law, as neither copyright nor patents apply

So in summary, yes, it's a very clear cut issue.  Copy recipes all you want.  Just make sure they aren't photocopies or verbatim copies of a given expression of a recipe (as Mike suggests, making a few changes to word choice here and there will ensure you're in the clear).

Of course, that said, copying someone else's work without attribution is not exactly a polite thing to do...

LindyD's picture

An interesting read on the subject.

The ethical thing to do is request permission before publishing anyone's recipe. Floyd is correct to be concerned as he would suffer any consequences.


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

The law is, of course, what a lawyer can convince the jury of.


That said, I'm not a lawyer and I've never played one on TV.  Still, there is ample case law that gives telecom companies, web hosts and others immunity for what is done with their services.

If someone types in a recipe straight from "The Jou of Cooking" and doesn't give credit, Floyd would in no way be responsible for the persons actions and would not suffer because of them.


Since Floyd neither invited nor condoned posting of copyrighted work, he's off the hook.  Where a web host would differ from an ISP is that the recipe would sit on the web page until someone removed it, where the electronic patterns flowing over the Internet would be gone as soon as the transfer was complete. 


A web host can be asked, and compelled, to remove copyrighted works from their sites.  And they can be held liable for damages if they refuse to do so.


All in all, I think Floyd is in pretty good shape.