“Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients”

"Jolly Roger" flag of Henry Every

The Pirates of Silicon Valley is a movie about the creation of Apple, and Microsoft, and about the hard work of these pioneers of computer crafting (because it was a craftsmanship at that time), and the not always orthodox methods they were using. This biographical movie went through the emotion of the first results in these newborn companies, and the intent to be out of the system: “Better to be a pirate than be in the Navy”, used to say Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc.

This spirit of liberty (or rebellion) was represented by the early team of Machintosh computer by applying a pirate flag (with a rainbow apple as eye patch) on the building they were working, as tells Andy Hertzfeld, one of the team members. Why I am talking about this? because many people asked me from where I would “gathering data from various sources”, as I wrote in a previous post.

The answer is in what the U.S. Copyright Office says:

Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook. (last revised 2/12)

In other words, the list of ingredients, or a mere listing of data, like cooking time or temperatures, is not copyrightable, while the explanations in a cookbook, or the text of a publication about cooking falls under the copyright law. A word to the wise is sufficient…

About Alexandre Albore

Alexandre likes to cook and to eat. After obtaining his PhD in Artificial Intelligence on Automated Planning, he now works on aerospace applications of AI. Alexandre lives actually in Toulouse, France. Google+
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