How to Use Published Recipes on the Internet

Audrey is a cook who loves creating new flavors by tweaking recipes to include healthier ingredients.

Recipe Received from Aunt Jane

Recipe Received from Aunt Jane

First, let's examine what a recipe is. In order to define that concept, here is Merriam-Webster's definitions:

  • "A set of instructions for making something from various ingredients.
  • "A formula or procedure for doing or attaining something." (Such as a recipe for success.)

To be clear, if we look at the above 2 statements, it is important to note that by the term recipe, we might not be only talking about food recipes, but we are also talking about recipes for building a shed, putting together a Christmas wreath, or making a chocolate cake!

There are actually 2 parts to most recipes—whether they are concerned with food, building something or a chemical formula—such as a recipe for making bath oil! These 2 parts are:

  1. The ingredients.
  2. The instructions—the way that you combine the ingredients.

Several questions come to mind then as to these 2 integral parts of the equation which in fact make up any given recipe—again, it can be a recipe for a cleaning product or it can be a recipe for chicken enchiladas.

Copyright law dictates that the following points are applicable:

  1. The list of ingredients is not copyrighted.
  2. The specific way that someone created the combination of ingredients is not copyrighted.

However, that being said, there are numerous tips and options that writers have if they do want to use recipes for anything. We are talking about recipes that appear in hard copy cookbooks or manuals, recipes on the Internet or on other folks' blogs, recipes that you see and hear on TV or other audio source, etc.

Also notably, anyone can take a certain list of ingredients and make anything from them—it is important to note that the ingredients themselves that someone comes up with are not the purpose of copyright. The importance of copyright is the way that an individual has discovered to combine these ingredients into a product—whether it is a food item, a desk chair, or a perfume!

The answer to that question is a resounding "No!" There are just ways that we should all probably get used to handling recipes and the copyright issues associated with them. Here are some of the points that I found in my research.

  • First and foremost—attribution—If you are not coming up with a recipe completely on your own, you should give attribution to the source of your find. That really seems only right in my mind and I have always done that. Attribution has many forms!
  • If you are modifying a recipe that you found online or in a cookbook, you should list the ingredients if you wish as listed in the original. Then you should rewrite the instructions as best you can in your own manner so that it is not a carbon copy of the original work. If you have changed or modified the recipe (used name brand ingredients or changed margarine to butter or something else), you should give attribution this way perhaps: "adapted from."
  • If you completely go off and create/modify the recipe extremely then you should do as above and give an attribution such as "inspired by."
  • Some sources say that if you have added or changed 3 ingredients that you should be able to call the recipe your own—I would tend to err on the side of caution and still go with one of the attributions above
  • Bottom line—if in doubt, give attribution! Unless you have concocted a recipe in your home kitchen all by yourself—or figured out a way to build a deck chair but used no patterns, prescribed measurements or any sourcebooks—then probably you've gotten your ideas and measurements from somewhere. Those folks deserve to have attribution in all honesty. If I had a plan for something and posted it on the Internet, I'd really be happy if folks attributed this unique design to me.

How Do We Give Attribution?

  • If you have the source for the recipe that you are adapting, list the attribution somewhere prominently in the article. "I found this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens 1976 magazine that I have saved all these years."
  • If you obtained your recipe from the Internet and have adapted it, do not copy the recipe verbatim but rather type it in your own words and forms. Use your own images or pictures (from Flickr or public domain) and then attribute the website and the specific recipe if at all possible. Some sites even suggest linking back to the original recipe so that it is plain to everyone that you are not taking credit for the recipe.
  • If you found your recipe on a TV show, give attribution to that recipe. If you go in search of the printed recipe on-line, of course then you can attribute it that way. However, even giving the name of the program that you watched and got this great recipe from is proper attribution. This could include a gardening show on how to build a planter! Most shows nowadays have the caveat that you can find anything you've watched on-line at their website or someone's website.
  • If at all possible, link to the source's original recipe or website (in the event that it is a cookbook published by someone).
  • If you can find the book on Amazon or eBay—list it and show it prominently in your hub or blog so that you are encouraging the original writer's work to be purchased! This shows good faith.
  • You can always try to get hold of the publisher or owner of the original recipe and ask permission for use through letter or email!
  • If in doubt, give attribution profusely! If you think it came from 2 sources, give attribution to both. In my humble opinion, giving attribution just makes us look better because it means that we are not taking credit for something that is not ours!
  • Most sources feel that recipes for such things as vinaigrette, chocolate milk, pie crusts, or other "basics" in cooking are not under copyright law simply because they are standards and are listed in millions of sources.
  • Tweaking of recipes should be legit—the recipe should have something truly different about it in its ingredients, addition or deletion, use of a different product, how it was prepared, etc.
Recipe Copied from Allrecipes.com

Recipe Copied from Allrecipes.com

In the United States, recipes and cookbooks that were written before 1923 are in the public domain but there is the caveat that if they were renewed after 1978, their copyright is current!

There are some sites where thousands of recipes can be found. I will list some sites below. There are also some sites with Creative Commons licenses.

There are also places such as Wikibooks which are called open-content textbooks.

Myths About Copyright of Recipes

  • If the recipe is on the Internet it is free to use
  • If the recipe is in a magazine from 1915 it is free to use
  • If a recipe is in a cookbook from 1960 it is free to use
  • If a recipe is on a recipe card that my Aunt Jane gave me, it is free to use—(you might not know the source, but you should still try to attribute it somehow if at all possible by looking on the Internet for a similar recipe—or attributing as "I cannot find the source but it was handed down by so-and-so"—but make sure you rewrite it in your own words)
  • A cookbook by someone who has died is in the Public Domain
  • Copyrights before 1923 mean that they are free to use now (again—false—not if the copyright was renewed)
  • Cookbook recipes are okay to use (false—if not if you do not adapt the recipes—although if you do a collection of say 3 different recipes from 3 different cookbooks and attribute all to their original source, rewrite the directions, etc. you have virtually created your 'own' collection)

There are people on the Internet every day who say "Who cares about this stuff with recipes? No one's going to care about a copied recipe." I've seen this posted many places—and I've seen many recipes posted that are clearly a copy verbatim of a website's listed recipe.

I think there are a couple of schools of thought on it though. We should always give credit where credit is due and to not do that is in effect cheating or stealing.

I think that not changing a recipe to make it 'somewhat' your own is just not a good policy. I also think that eventually, things will become so automated that it will be easy to track these copyright things on the Internet—if not already.

Then again, it could become so widespread that no one will care if their recipes are stolen and put up on multiple websites!

My whole philosophy has always been though to keep inside the lines and for that reason alone, I like to make sure I'm doing things as legally as I can.

Another really good way to make a recipe your own, and something I do quite often is to take a 'standard' recipe such as bread and tweak it to be made with a different method—or machine. If it is a made-by-hand bread recipe, I create it my own way using my food processor—or my bread maker—or my stand-alone mixer. That inevitably requires some tweaking of the recipe in terms of ingredients or time or preparation—any time the recipe is tweaked, I feel quite confident saying that I made the recipe different myself and in perhaps a 'better' way—but I still give credit to the original recipe creator.

A Fair(y) Use Tale—Animated

What to Do If You Find Your Recipe on Someone Else's Website, Article or Blog

With copying of recipes and written material so prevalent on the Internet these days, there is a very good chance that you may end up browsing around the Internet only to find your recipe for calzone stuffing being prominently displayed on someone else's hub or blog. If you run across this dilemma, the suggested practice is to email the person directly and ask them to attribute the material to you—and to also rewrite part of it in their own words so that it is not an exact copy of your material (if it is). Also, ask them to link back to the source of their 'find' and give credit where credit is due.

Note: I am speaking of recipes and formulas for making things here, not someone stealing your story or your poems!

Again, I do not have all the answers on this subject and I welcome your comments and perspectives on this as well!

According to Merriam-Webster's definition of plagiarism, I give you the following quotes:

  • “To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: To use (another person’s production) without crediting the source."
  • "To commit literary theft: Present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.”

So in this day and age of everything and anything available on the Internet in terms of images, graphs, videos and millions of recipes, does that mean that we can never copy or suggest a recipe on our articles and blogs?

With the popularity of so many recipes here on Hubpages and on so many other blogging sites all over the Internet, I thought I needed to answer this question concretely—especially since I happen to be a huge perpetrator of postings of recipes!

After doing a lot of research on this subject, I will share with you my findings and some of them may truly surprise you!

I do not profess to know all there is to know about the legalities of blogging and writing online! If in doubt yourself, please do the research and if you feel that you even need legal counsel on the subject, please do that. There are diametrically opposed opinions on the Internet from one day to the next about what is legal to do and how we should go about it.

It would be really, really easy if all recipes on the Internet were subject to the same rules as images—like a Creative Commons license attached to every one of them. However, that still does not filter out the recipes and ideas we get from books, magazines, or cookbooks sitting on our shelves!

I did a hub a while back on growing potatoes in a garbage can and this is how I did it. It was not a unique idea to me—I had read about it perhaps 15 years ago in a Sunset magazine. However, I no longer had the article and I could not find it on the Internet. I then researched the subject and found at least 2 or 3 different sets of instructions on how to do this project—and then I picked out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it—attributing the various methods but letting the reader know that I had combined the ideas of 2 or 3 different people to achieve my 'recipe'.

"Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds, or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, when a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection."

And also: "Copyright protects only the particular manner of an author’s expression in literary, artistic, or musical form. Copyright protection does not extend to names, titles, short phrases, ideas, systems, or methods."

Attribution: US Copyright Office

What Do I Do If I Find My Recipe on Someone Else's Website, Article or Blog?

With copying of recipes and written material so prevalent on the Internet these days, there is a very good chance that you may end up browsing around the Internet only to find your recipe for calzone stuffing being prominently displayed on someone else's hub or blog. If you run across this dilemma, the suggested practice is to email the person directly and ask them to attribute the material to you—and to also rewrite part of it in their own words so that it is not an exact copy of your material (if it is). Also, ask them to link back to the source of their 'find' and give credit where credit is due.

Note: I am speaking of recipes and formulas for making things here, not someone stealing your story or your poems!

Again, I do not have all the answers on this subject and I welcome your comments and perspectives on this as well!

Poll for Recipe Hounds

Questions & Answers

Question: I want to send postcard out to potential customers with my company logo and I want it to be a recipe card. Can I do this if I show the source of the recipe?

Answer: I think it would have to be a creative commons license or a public domain recipe but I am not an expert. I would investigate it further on the Internet. For instance, if you were going to use a public domain picture to print greeting cards, the image would have to be public domain and/or creative commons with no sharing/use for commercial purposes licensing.

Question: I'm doing a roundup post of 10 delicious vegan cookies or something like that. I don't post the recipes on my site, just the images that link back to the recipe. Am I breaking any laws?

Answer: If you just use images, they should be ones that have a shared license - meaning that they are public domain or they are creative commons licenses. It is illegal to use any images that are copyrighted and do not have sharing privileges. Any image will tell you if it is able to be shared or not that you find on the Internet. You may be asked to remove the image as they do have software to track that kind of thing. I have heard of people receiving fines for using images illegally also. Always check to see if the images you are using are allowed to be used.

Question: If I use the chef's name in my blog name (i.e. Julie and Julia) is that considered copyright infringement?

Answer: No - not at all!

Question: Are collective church recipes copywritten if there are no copyright symbols? Many are just a collection of favorites from a community. The format of a published book I can understand, but what about the DIY spiral bound?

Answer: I'm not certain on these community cookbooks. I would imagine that they are indeed copywritten since they are in printed form. If using them, merely attribute the recipe to where you got it from mentioning the book by name and even the author. I would also recommend maybe suggesting a tweak or two. For example, "I changed this or that or used this product." when using the recipe so that it is more 'your own' version of the recipe than the original. Always attribute the author though and where you stumbled upon the recipe, and I think you should be safe.

© 2010 Audrey Kirchner


Tina Devon Gallier/Doña Tina's Latin Café on November 05, 2018:

This a very good article on recipe attribution. I started a new food blog, and it was very helpful. I always attribute my recipes, but wasn't sure because I see so many food blogs where there are no sources. Thanks for clearing things up and letting me know I'm on the right track.

Alex on September 20, 2015:


I'm a book publisher and I have a couple cookbooks in which my writers put some recipes they found on the Internet. They change the instructions a bit. Still, they also put the images of the recipes. This is the main issue I have.

I'd like to know whether giving credit to the websites, blogs, Youtube channels and forums from which the pictures have been taken is enough to guarantee my protection? In other words, is giving credits enough not to be in trouble?

If it's not, is there any websites where I can find images of A LOT of recipes for me to use them in my cookbooks?

NB: I sell the cookbooks that have been created.

Thank you.

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on July 22, 2012:

This is a tricky subject and open to interpretation, but I agree we should all be more vigilant to give attribution for the recipe we place on our blogs and hubs

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 29, 2012:

Ewarren, I honestly do not know. I would hesitate to give you advice and then have you get into trouble doing it. I think though personally as long as you attribute recipes as to their source and perhaps change 2 or 3 ingredients, etc., that you are within the "legal" zone. However, any time you publish something, you should probably ask an expert (which I am not)~!

ewarren on April 29, 2012:

If I follow your advice on attribution and produce a cookbook for my extended family's use only and do not sell it, am I safer legally than if I published and sold it? The company that prints it for me will be making charges for their services, is that the same as if I had tried to publish and sell?

KK1229 on October 07, 2011:

I had a question,I understand that it goes against copyright law to post the exact copy of recipe instruction and pass them off as your own but what if you want to sell an item that you made, like cupcakes for example. I don't have a store or a venue to sell anything I was just curious. Would you need to attribute the recipe to the creator? If so, how would you do that on the product?

Michelle on September 27, 2011:

Thank you so much for this Hub. I am right now in the process of getting ready to start my own blog and one of the things I wanted to post a lot of is recipes. I've been searching a lot on this topic because I want to make sure I stay above board on everything I do. This Hub was extremely helpful!!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 23, 2011:

Davidka - I appreciate your comment although I do not appreciate the 'flavor' of it. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that the recipes were public domain and even if they are in the public domain and are 'free to all' I believe that the source should be attributed.

That was my whole point - it's not about sharing recipes with our readers or images for that matter. It's about attributing them to the proper source and not passing them off as your own creation.

Your comment was unnecessarily rude in my humble opinion to impart your information.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 23, 2011:

Gusherla - Thanks for your insight and for the link most of all. However, I'm pretty sure I said the same thing. Meaning that the instructions are not copyrighted but that if the recipe is verbatim from someone's website or from a cookbook, in my humble opinion, you are violating copyright law.

The point I was trying to make was that if you change up the wording and most importantly, if you tweak the recipe by adding ingredients or even brand names, you have basically made it 'your own' idea although I only use recipes where I've actually changed the ingredients such as substituting different items for the ingredients.

Again, thanks for the info and appreciate the read...and the time you took to research it!

gusherla on March 22, 2011:

The article said this:

> The specific WAY that someone created the combination of ingredients IS copyrighted

This, however, is entirely false. The way is merely a set of instructions, and you can't copyright instructions (although I'm pretty sure you can patent them). The expression of that way, however, is what is *potentially* copyrighted. I say 'potentially' because it must have a sufficient amount of creativity of expression to be copyrighted. I'm not really sure what that amount is, but I'm pretty sure it involves more than such as the following:

Mix dry and wet ingredients. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Bake for 20 minutes.

Now, if they used a lot of elaborate adjectives or what-have-you, or described it in some semi-fancy or creative way, then that would probably be copyrighted. However, I'm guessing even then you could simplify the instructions to their bare-bones in order to retain the uncopyrighted instructions safely (but I'm not 100% sure on that).

Here's a link from the government that is my source, followed by the important excerpts:


"A mere listing of ingredients is not protected under copyright law. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a collection of recipes as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection."

"Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work."

[Note that instructions on how to deal with a list of ingredients are methods of doing things.]

Davidka on August 22, 2010:

As a copyright lawyer, I assure you that the comments about recipes that were published before 1923 are howlingly, completely wrong. A recipe that was published before 1923 is utterly, completely, out of copyright and in the public domain, just as any other book, story, article published before 1923. Period. End of story. Public domain. Anyone's to use.

The statements sprinkled through this article that it's still protected by copyright if it's been renewed are nonsense. Please! You are doing a disservice to your readers.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 21, 2010:

HH - Do you mean the Kirchner B&B? We are always open for business....thanks for the read!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on August 21, 2010:

Thanks for this information and a well written hub. Ton't worry I will visit you. Just let me know when and where.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 20, 2010:

Thanks for the read, Prasetio. I appreciate the nice compliments always!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on August 20, 2010:

Another great hub from you. I never try to write a recipes. But I'll try to make it someday. Thanks for share about this, very useful. Rate this UP.


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 20, 2010:

Good god, Dim - you make me laugh - terrifically funny and thanks for the comment....and the attribution. Lucky for you you ended up coming clean and giving it or you might have gotten some of my retribution which I am quite famous for....almost as famous for as my chocolate mini-cakes!

Sally - thank you for the applause but I do feel in all seriousness that it is only fair. I REALLY appreciate your last sentence and think that there are many things on Hubpages and elsewhere that are not covered all that well and left to our own devices, we can become sloths and say 'oh - I just don't know if this is right' and let it slide. I think KNOWING the rules makes us better folks but then I'm just an old lady who likes to live within the lines.

Obviously, I need to with all these comedic happenings! I have to have some semblance of order for heaven's sake!

I appreciate the read and so glad you felt that it was understandable and helpful!

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 20, 2010:

This is not only useful information, it's necessary information. I especially applaud your focus on attribution, something that does not happen often enough. Your numerous and creative suggestions about how to attribute a recipe give a writer a lot of flexibility and take away any excuse a writer may have for not doing the right thing.

Voted up and useful, but if there were an "essential" or "necessary" I would have clicked that!

De Greek from UK on August 20, 2010:

Oh, all right then, it's not mine, so I shall do the right thing and give the name of the aurhor :

- Josh Billings

De Greek from UK on August 20, 2010:

About the most originality that any writer can hope to achieve honestly is to steal with good judgment.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

Wow Second_Act - I am really, really grateful to know that I was helpful! Sometimes I just rattle on and never know if I'm making a difference or a hill of beans! I really try and research everything because I do think it is important stuff. The other thing that is most prominent in my mind is always giving credit where credit is due and I think that this information just made me realize that it is part of that premise. When I think about it, it is only logical and what I have tried to always do with my many posts! Thank you so much for commenting!

Second_Act on August 19, 2010:

What a wonderful, useful, and well-written hub. Even though I have professional legal training, I have shied away from writing recipe-based hubs due to my concern about copyright issues. This article has clarified many of the issues, especially as they relate to blogs and Internet-based writing, and for that I am forever grateful! Thank you, thank you!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

Thanks for commenting, Katie - I do that too although Bob would confirm for everyone that I have books and books and binders and binders of recipes that I love to tweak. I think in my case it is probably the challenge of 'making it differently' or seeing if I can make it better. There are a few that I do over and over again with my own tweaks just because they are so easy, so good, or so popular depending on my 'audience'....I find that cooking is one of the things that I do that makes me quit thinking of other things - so this is good!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on August 19, 2010:

I don't use recipes I'm a dumper or a tosser, I just toss things together from experience. I create recipes in the same manner when I do. You my friend have many great recipes, I read and do,remembering the details as I have enough cooking experience to remember. Great help on Copyright Tips and Options. Thanks.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

BJ - We could always go with the Bee Jays but then we'd probably have to dance AND sing and while I'm graceful as a cow in high heels, singing is definitely not my strong suit. In fact, people ask me to 'pretend' I'm singing - what's that about? With all my other talents, such as playing the accordion, how was I supposed to add singing to the mix?

Love your humor and please don't ever stop. Laughter is my best medicine and without it, I would surely perish!

I'm not so sure on the wisdom part - I am a research fanatic it seems though at times I confuse even myself! I have a friend who writes at Huffington Post and he says I should concentrate on niches - I kinda think I concentrate on itches! Whatever happens to pop into my old lady head, I'm off and running trying to satisfy that itch. I probably have too much time to think while I do my 'day job'.

Bantering with you is like fine wine - it just gets better and better! I loved your comment on someone else's hub I read this morning - about her reading the toilet bowl cleaner. I laughed and laughed - 'go read the back of a wine bottle'. You are too hilarious!

And the credit for copywrong goes to you....ATTRIBUTION: BJ....clever as ever!

Yours in fun right back at ya.....Audrey

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 19, 2010:

OK, Audrea, I have the name for our traveling comedy act. How about the BeeGees? Oh, wait, I think that name has been used before. But maybe the copyright has expired.

Now I'm going to get serious. Something I generally do every fortnit or so. First, I want to commend you with paeans of praise and additional adulation. This is a much-needed resource for every writer and I appreciate your extensive time and effort in putting it all together. And at the same time making it so easy to read and understand. Thank you and kudos to the Malemute Kid!

Second, I want to thank you, girlfriend, for allowing me to banter so extensively on your "hubs of art" even when my comments may appear to be out in left field (right field, too, for the ambidextrous).

Third, my voluminous thanks for your willingness to use your fertile imagination when we banter. Would be no fun if you didn't. BTW, did you notice that together we may have created a new word for the hubber's lexicon? Copywrong!

Yours in fun forever, bj

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

Thanks for the valuable addition to the hub! I think the more we clarify things the better off we all are!

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on August 19, 2010:

Thanks for clearing that up! I went around and around, before deciding what I was going to do about the subject. And yes, if the recipe comes straight out of a cookbook or website, I do reference it. It is only fair!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

Ivorwen - I think that the recipe is totally yours and you could do whatever you wanted with it since you came up with it in your head! That is fantastic by the way.

I am referring to something that is on allrecipes.com for instance or myrecipes.com - something that is there and is quite unique in its ingredients. Those types of recipes are the ones you have to be careful about 'copying' or posting up on a blog 'as is'.

I think the kind of recipes you are referring to are totally your own invention and you would have no worries about them - even if there was something similar on line. That has been one of my pet peeves all along - there are only SO many ways we can make anything and of course there is going to be overlap. We can't possibly designate 'who thought of it originally'. That is like who invented the wheel!

Most of what I was directing this hub at was the fact that copying recipes verbatim from some of the big sites might not be a great idea and that tweaking should be applied! Again, don't think you are going to have to worry about that since you are so creative!

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on August 19, 2010:

My point is, if I come up with something and write it in my own words, then it doesn't matter how many other similar recipes there are out there, the work is still mine... and there are only so many formulas for making things. Once you know the basics, you can make almost anything, with or without a 'recipe'.

Example, yesterday I decided to try making lacto fermented beets. I was debating whether to chop or grate them, so decided to look and see if anyone else had any experience on the subject. Turns out, what I wanted to make is known as "Beet Kvass", a traditional Russian drink, and is extremely healthy. Oh, and the sources warned never to grate the beets, because they would turn to alcohol, instead of fermenting. Now, I do know of a site to source, should I share the recipe, but if I had not researched it, I would have thought it all my own.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

Hey Gus - Thanks so much for the rundown on the legality of copyright!

Gustave Kilthau from USA on August 19, 2010:

Hi Audrey - That article took tons and tons of work to put together. I had to read it all in a big hurry this morning, so I might have missed this: As soon as an author completes an original work it is copyrighted to that author or, if it is a work for hire deal, to the employer via that author.(There can be more than one author, too.)Notice used to have to be placed on the work to insure copyright, but notice is no longer required. Registration of copyright is optional. It is a federal criminal offense to steal a copyright-registered work. If a copyright-unregistered work is stolen, then the copyright owner can only sue for damages in civil court. The optional copyright notice on the work is not the same thing as copyright registration.

Gus :-)))

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 19, 2010:

Rkhyclak - Thanks so much for the read - and that is the best way - I'm a tweaker all over the place and a 'let's try this' cook so I don't think I have any worries either. I think a lot of it is just saying 'inspired by'.

Ivorwen - Thanks for stopping by. You are probably right - there is overkill on how many sources there are - so which was the original? Even though I wrote this, I confess to being confused myself as to who owns what but probably it's the guy/gal who paid for the copyright (if they did).

MyMastiffPuppies - Thanks for the read as well. Tweaking (in my humble opinion) is always the way to go for many reasons but especially if posting!

CarolinaMuscle - I hear you - I have recipe cards from my husband's family and in all truth, there is no way to trace where they came from but you know they probably came from a cookbook. I can even visualize some of the ones that my mom had and vaguely remember recipes. I think the point is 'best effort' at attribution and call it a day...and it doesn't hurt if you tweak a few ingredients and always change up the instructions!

MPG - Tweaking them makes them okay - not copywrong! And yes, we can always use a third on the comedy road as you never know how tired out 2 ladies will get!

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on August 19, 2010:

Interesting hub Audrey. The recipes I have used in my hubs are my own or some member of my family. I usually tweak them to make them my way, so is that copywrong?? Now I'm really confused, can I come on the comedy road with you and BJ?

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 19, 2010:

Some good advice about copyright- although I know that even my great grandmother's recipes weren't originally hers.....

MyMastiffPuppies on August 18, 2010:

Wow! great information on recipes. I have as yet to put any on a hub but I have had blogs that contained recipes. If they were recipes that I used at home, I always try to mix it up (prep and specific ingredients) but on occasion I had an auto feed but it did note the source. This was very helpful before I put any recipe hubs up!Thanks

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on August 18, 2010:

I do not know how many times I have made something, the family loved it, so I wrote it down, then found an almost identical recipe in a cook book or online. After so much of it, if I decide to do something, then it is MINE! I don't care who else thought of the same thing!

rkhyclak from Ohio on August 18, 2010:

Great advice! I try really, really hard to come up with my own, original stuff...best hobby ever!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 18, 2010:

Thanks Suziecat7 - I totally agree - that's what I try and do too only with me it's things like nuts! I think I cook with nuts more than I cook with anything - or oats.

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on August 18, 2010:

I usually take a recipe and add or subtract ingredients. I try cooking it first and if it's good, it's mine!!! I like red peppers so I add them to almost everything. It usually works. Great info here.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 18, 2010:

I know, Pamela - I have tons of recipes and see the same ones populated everywhere. I wonder if anyone WILL ever make an issue over it - but in the meantime, I guess my middle is attribution....and hopefully like BJ said, no RETRIBUTION!

Chirls - Thanks so much for stopping by - and yes, BJ is a witty girl, eh? It's very hard to keep up with her!

chirls from Indiana (for now) on August 18, 2010:

Copywrite.... copywrong... I like your style, drbj and Audrey! Recipes are tricky when it comes to plagiarism because everyone is always copying off each other when it comes to cooking. Great advice, as always.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 18, 2010:

Audry, Well, this copyright business is a little complex. I always try to attribute a picture to the source and not use those I can see are copyrighted. Recipes are a bit more complex as you see the same recipes all over the place. I have had recipes for decades and can sometimes come across them on the internet. Interesting hub.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 18, 2010:

BJ - I think you need to take your humor on the road - and take me with you! Good lord - doing these copyright things give me such a blasted pain in the neck - and the head. I do believe I like your system better - if we do it and we get caught, it's a copywrong.

I'm emailing MY attorney about it tonight and asking him to take care of it should I copywrong.

If you're in trouble with the warden, I must be in maximum security lock down. Only they gave me a computer and keep telling me to type or else - or else what? So I just keep pounding away on the keyboard!

Have your warden call mine and see if we can get out for good behavior and hit the Comedy Trail!

Sigh though - why is everything in our lives these days so freaking complicated?

drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 18, 2010:

Dear Copyright Answer Lady: I read your entire erudite hub and am now suffering from copyright information overload. I have some questions for you.

A copyright is protection for something you write, right? So why is it right to call it a copyright when it is really a copywrite? Wouldn't it be more right to call a copyright a copywrite if you write it. And if you neglect to copywrite something isn't that a copywrong?

And what about retribution if you don't provide attribution? Is it like ten lashes with a wet noodle?

I have emailed these questions to my attorney also but received a response that he is on a 12-month sabbatical starting yesterday. Now why is that called a sabbatical when you are gone all the other days as well as on Sunday? Please answer quickly as I am not supposed to be using the warden's comeputer and I expect him back any mo........

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