Are Recipes Copyrightable?

Today’s publishing legal question is particularly relevant with the holidays approaching: “Are recipes subject to copyright?” The short answer is: no … and a little bit yes.  Copyright exists to protect creative expression, and does not offer protection for “functional items.” To the extent a recipe consists of a list of ingredients required to create a type of food, it’s functional–and not copyrightable. The functional elements of recipes, like ingredient lists and basic instructions, can’t be copyrighted. For our purposes, a “functional item” is any part of the recipe that’s mandatory to create the food itself. For example, yeast in a risen bread. Courts

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