SCENARIO 11: I write a cookbook, are my recipes then protected by copyright?
What copyrights are involved?
A copyright in a recipe is possible, but not the easiest to enforce. The list of ingredients and the order of adding and preparing them would not be protected. Copyright law is not meant to protect techniques or things like a list of ingredients.
What may have copyright are the words used to express the directions and explanations of the recipe. Copyright law protects the expression of an original idea that is fixed. For something to be original, creativity, skill and judgment must go into creating the work. Thus, some originality must go into the words used to express the recipe. If someone were to copy exactly, or even with minor alterations, the words used to express your recipe, you could strongly argue that they are infringing your work. On the other hand, if they paraphrase or alter the wording of your recipe, arguing infringement could be more difficult.
Pictures of the food:
If your cookbook contains, pictures of your dishes, each of those pictures would be protected as an artistic work, under the category of photographs.
Other text in the book:
If your cookbook contains stories, an introduction, explanation of the ingredients or similar text, this would be protected by copyright as it clearly would be original and fixed expression.
The cookbook itself:
A copyright would be gained in the cookbook itself. That is in the compilation of the recipes. A compilation, under the Copyright Act, means (a) a work resulting from the selection or arrangement of literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works or of parts thereof, or (b) a work resulting from the selection or arrangement of data."
Taking the time to select the recipes for the cookbook, choosing the order to present them in, and selecting the images to include are all instances of exercising skill and judgment. A cookbook, therefore, would have a copyright in the selection and arrangement of the works. No one else could present those specific recipes the same way that you did.
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