Ask Recipe Labs: a Q&A site for Cooking
November 20, 2009 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Ask Recipe Labs is a cooking-related question and answer site, based off of the Stack Overflow structure (prev). Ask Recipe Lab is the newest part of collection of recipe-based sites, which includes Recipe Puppy (an ingredient based recipe search engine, prev. from MeFi Projects), Cook Thing (how to cook anything, by picking a dish and the ingredients you wish to use), and Recipe Labs (social recipe repository, allowing quick tweaks to existing recipes). [via mefi projects]
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Recipe Labs seems kind of lame, but Stack Overflow for cooking is a great idea!
posted by musicinmybrain at 8:00 AM on November 20, 2009

First of all thanks filthy_light_thief for the mefi. I hope everyone likes all my cooking websites!

I know Recipe Labs seems lame and needs a lot more polish. The main point is that most recipes on cooking sites are copyrighted so you are not free to modify the recipe to your liking. I just wanted to make a place where that is possible and easy.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions, just post here.
posted by kbrower3 at 8:22 AM on November 20, 2009

The main point is that most recipes on cooking sites are copyrighted so you are not free to modify the recipe to your liking.

They may claim copyright protection, but depending on various factors the recipe may not actually be copyrightable.

The general principle comes from the statute: 17 USC 102(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."

and from regulation: 37 C.F.R. § 202.1: "The following are examples of works not subject to copyright and applications for registration of such works cannot be entertained: (a) ... mere listing of ingredients or contents"

For a good discussion on the copyrightable status of recipes, see Publications Int'l, Ltd v. Meredith Corp., 88 F.3d 473 (7th Cir. 1996).

The take home point appears to be that a straightforward, bare recipe without any creative narrative, pictures, etc is not copyrightable. A particular compilation of recipes may be copyrightable, but that would only protect the compilation, not the individual recipes. The protection extends only to the creative selection and arrangement of the recipes.

Of course, you're probably doing the smart thing by playing it safe. But if you ever wanted to reconsider the policy, you should talk to a competent copyright lawyer; there may be more recipes available to you than you realize.
posted by jedicus at 8:59 AM on November 20, 2009

Hi jedicus. I knew the list of ingredients and amounts was not copyrightable, but I thought the instructions were taken as a form of creative narrative and thus copyrighted. Therefore it is not usually possible to take a recipe adjust the ingredients and keep that narrative the same. Your right I should talk to a competent copyright lawyer.
posted by kbrower3 at 9:27 AM on November 20, 2009

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