Tag Archives: copyright

Copyrights and Recipes

I see that recipes and copyrights have been brought up again, so I thought I would give my basic spiel which I hope explains it all. I think I’ve covered this before, but I’m too lazy to look it up in the archives.

Lists of ingredients are not protected by copyright. Explanation of techniques are not restricted either, as a rule. Literary license in the form of prose is, however, guarded by copyright. Let me give an example.

Part I:

I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as they bring a bright smile to my face. They are especially good with a cold glass of milk.

Part II:

  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons strawberry Jelly

Part III:

With a knife, spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread. With the same knife, spread the jelly on the other side of bread. Press together the two slices of bread, with the peanut butter and jelly facing each other.

Here’s the deal. Part I is under copyright. An entity cannot reproduce Part I (even as bad as it is) without attribution.

Part II is not protected by copyright. Period. Underline three times.

Part III is where it gets a bit iffy. In the case of the above, Part III is most likely not sheltered by copyright. There’s not much in the form of literary expression. Instead, it’s essentially a formula that uses the list of ingredients. Such formulas are not covered by copyright.

However, if there was a fair amount of prose interspersed within the formula, then it can be protected by copyright. If Part III was dressed up with memories of making the sandwiches, and tied together with a personal anecdote or two then no one could legally use it without permission.


Hershey Copyright Trademark Update


Several Days ago, I linked to a story about the Hershey Corporation suing a book publisher Simon & Schuster Inc. over images using Hershey images to market the book “Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire and Utopian Dreams”.

The lawsuit has been settled. The verdict?

The images stay on the book cover.

The book will, however, have a phrase stating that the book is “neither authorized nor sponsored by The Hershey Company.”

I’m giving points to the author of the book, who, upon hearing the news, stated that the decision was “a victory for people who can’t tell the difference between recycled paper and chocolate”. A snarky man after my own heart.

It was a specious lawsuit from the start. The images of the candy bar have far exceeded their copyright time limit.

UPDATE: I boo-boo’d. The Image is a trademark, not a copyright, and the two are far different entities. However, there are laws regarding “fair use” and trademarks.

The Lanham Act permits a non-owner of a registered trademark to make “fair use” or “nominative use” of a trademark under certain circumstances without obtaining permission from the mark’s owner. The fair use and nominative use defenses are to help ensure that trademark owners do not prohibit the use of their marks when they are used for the purpose of description or identification. Fair use or nominative use may be recognized in those instances where a reader of a given work is clearly able to understand that the use of the trademark does not suggest sponsorship or association with the trademark owner’s product or services and therefore is not being used in a manner to confuse the reader.

Whether the use of the trademark on the book cover falls under “fair or nominative use”, I leave it to you to interpret. Personally, if I were to pick up a book with the above cover, at no point would I think “Ah, Hershey signed off on this”. But hey, that’s simply my perspective.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Hersheys, lawsuit


Copycat Recipes and McDonalds

I understand that there is a market for recipes that replicate dishes found at corporate restaurants across the country, but even I’m a bit astounded at the depth of obsession that this site shows for copying McDonalds recipes.

As evidence of this obsession is this bit on pickles for the hamburger:

McDonald’s® pickle slices are unique in flavor, very sour dills. The only product I know of that comes close to the distinctive flavor is HEINZ Genuine Dills. (original sour dill.) But they don’t come in slices, so slice your own VERY thin. I can’t do it very well with a knife, so I use a K-tel “dial-a-slice” home vegetable slicer. ALSO….Vlasic “original” dills have that tart flavor. Make sure they’re not “kosher” dills. Wal-Mart® carries Vlasic ORIGINAL dills, and you have to slice those too. (****note, these pickles are pretty small, so slice at an angle….you’ll get bigger dill chips.) USE THESE PICKLES ON ALL McDONALD’S® HAMBURGERS!

I’m actually astounded that there is a group of people who are keen on copying the special sauce recipe for the Big Mac, an egg McMuffin, or a Fillet o’ Fish. I’m not sure to be horrified or bemused.