1. Cuppa' Joe
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    Cuppa' Joe New Member

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    Cookbook ethics: what constitutes plagiarism when publishing recipes?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Cuppa' Joe, Feb 23, 2012.

    I'm putting together a cookbook based mostly on family recipes from my mother's recipe box. I'd like to include recipes from other sources as well, sometimes with a personal twist and sometimes not. I have cookbooks where the author has done the same thing: above one recipe there is a note saying, "I got this recipe from such-and-such a book by such-and-such an author." These are my questions:

    1. If you do not cite the source of your recipe, is that plagiarism? Even if you rewrite the instructions and, say, multiply or divide the original recipe? We are talking about classic, everyday recipes here, like banana bread or chocolate chip cookies. No cook alive today can claim to have invented those, but recipes for these get published all the time and I would bet that there are exact duplicates all over the place (duplicates in terms of the ingredient list and general method, not word-for-word duplicates).

    2. If you do cite your source, do you have to request permission from the author/publisher when relevant? Does it fall to you or to your publisher to do this?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Joe
     
  2. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    Better safe than sorry.

    For recipes that you're getting from other sources, ALWAYS ask permission if you intend to publish them. You might get a reply that, "Oh, that's just something I whipped up on a Saturday afternoon, go for it," or you might get, "That's from the Betty Crocker cookbook, you'd have to ask them. I'm using it under fair use on my blog because I'm critiquing it." You never really know.

    It might be a good idea to double-check all of your mother's recipe cards too. You never know if she copied down the recipe from the bag of chocolate chips, if it's something that her mother used to make and she's just kind of guessing, or if it's something that she came up with all on her own.

    Good luck!
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    1. if it's from a published source less than 70 years old, then it's under copyright and you must have permission to use it... changing the number of servings does not change the recipe itself, so that won't release you from the need to get permission... oddly enough, the copyright doesn't extend to the list of ingredients, but only to the instructions, since that is considered 'literary expression' and not just a 'formula'...

    2. just citing the source isn't enough... if you need to have written permission, it's up to you to obtain permission before submitting the ms...

    you should learn the ins and outs of copyright law before writing anything you intend to have published... it's easy enough to do, at: www.copyright.gov

    btw, you could have gotten the answers to your questions a lot faster if you'd simply googled for 'permission to use recipes in a cookbook'... here's just one of the answers that popped up on the first page:

    http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/copyright-infringement-on-recipes--336083.html?ref=related_documents_title_3
     
  4. Cuppa' Joe
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    Cuppa' Joe New Member

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    Thanks a lot for the pointers.
     

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