Fråga: Can we show recipes found in cooking books without consent?
Hi! We are selling a digital programme and in it we would like to show recipe examples to our customers. Is it legally possible to show recipes we found in cooking books, given we clearly show the source (author & book name)? Do we need the author's consent? Thank you!
Legalbuddy svarar

Hello, and thank you for using LegalBuddy!

The question of recipes and if you need the author’s consent is a very interesting question. Copyright protection is an exclusive right given to the author of a literary expression. If a literary work is protected by copyright, anyone that wants to republish or use that work needs the permission of the author. There is no need for any registration to obtain copyright. Instead, copyright arises based on if certain criteras are met. These criterias can be summarized to that…

1.    the work is original (meaning it is the author’s own intellectual creation),

2.    it is independently created by a human,

3.    it has some degree of creativity involved, and finally

4.    the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

The question is then if the recipes you show in your app would meet all these criterias. In order to be original, the recipe cannot simply be a list of ingriedents and a strict and forwardly written set of instructions about which order and what to do with the ingredients. However, if the recipe is written with poetic and imaginary formulations, it may be protected. Recipes that function only to give a instructions for the way to cook or bake something, would then not be copyright protected. Since you mention using recipes from published cookbooks, it is likely to imagine that the works are indeed copyrighted. This means that you need the author's consent.

Important to note is that the material content of the recipe is not protected by copyright, it is only the form of expression that is protected. This means that only the republication of the written recipe itself would be illegal, not actually following the recipe.

In summary, recipes that are originally written are most likely protected whilst just a list of ingredients and standard instructions are not. In order to give you a more precise answer I would have to know a bit more about how and what you show to your customers, as well as what recipes you are referring to. I hope this answer was helpful and encourage you to please ask more questions or book a meeting with us for more legal advice. 

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