Did you know that recipes are not copyrightable? It is very challenging to copyright a recipe. That said, I have found that 99.99% of food bloggers and others in the industry give credit where it is due. On that note, I especially enjoy Lillian’s interpretation of my recipes via video on her site Lillian’s Test Kitchen. And kudos go to all the other bloggers out there doing what Lillian does day in and day out.
Unfortunately, sometimes things can go awry when it comes to recipe usage. And here’s an example of that. A couple of months ago, I received a comment from one of my readers regarding a recipe for gluten free pancakes on my website.
Oh, one odd thing… I used a brand of almond flour that I found at a local health food store called Dowd & Rogers and they had the exact same pancake recipe printed on the back of the bag. The only difference is that they said to mix in a blender (instead of saying the Vitamix brand). Not sure if it means anything but thought Elana may want to know…
That was a message from katie h, one of my readers, and I didn’t take it too seriously. However, weeks later, when I compared the two recipes I could see right away what she was talking about.
2 large eggs
¼ cup agave
1 tablespoon vanilla
½ cup water
1 ½ cups almond flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
grapeseed oil for sautéing
- In a vitamix, combine eggs, agave, vanilla and water and blend on high until smooth
- Add almond flour, salt and baking soda and blend again to incorporate dry ingredients into batter
- Warm grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat
- Pour pancake batter onto skillet
- Pancakes will form little bubbles, when bubbles open, flip pancakes over and cook other side
- Remove from heat to a plate
- Repeat process with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet as needed
* The funniest part of all this is that this isn’t my best pancake recipe
The law regarding copyrightability of food recipes is very clear: recipes are not copyrightable… In short, your letter alleging copyright protection in a recipe is completely meritless.
This legalese seems to be saying that Dowd & Rogers and their parent company the Neutraceutical Corporation can use as many of my (and your) recipes as they like to sell their products. And that they do not need to give any of us credit.
I have more than 350 recipes on this site and after receiving a letter such as the above start to wonder which one Dowd & Rogers will help themselves to next.
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I’m not a lawyer, however, something seems amiss here. Wonder if any of you have run into this as well.