Recipe Copyright Information

We at thelonelyegg have had our concerns about copyright issues for recipes users submit. Consequently we have done a little bit of reading up on the law and have compiled our findings for you. Please note that we are not lawyers, nor has any of this information been checked by a lawyer. This merely constitutes our understanding of the law and its implications.

First off, the law clearly states that a simple list of ingredients is not protected by copyright. What could potentially be protected is the instructions of the recipe and a compilation of recipes, such as a cookbook. In the case of instructions, however, there is a question regarding "substantial literary expression." The general idea is that if there are limited ways of expressing a concept, there is less ground for copyright protection. For example, there are only so many ways to say "combine the ingredients and cook for 10 minutes." The more elaborate the explanation, the more argument there is for "literary expression."

In the case of compilations of recipes, it is the compilation that gets copyright protection, not the individual recipes themselves. That is the understanding that we apply to thelonelyegg.com: we do not claim any copyright on individual recipes appearing on this site, nor indeed do we believe we have any grounds for such a claim. However, we claim copyright to the website itself as a structure, including (but, of course, not limited to) the name and the brand.

What does this mean for our users submitting recipes? Well, we have a few suggestions:
  1. Whenever possible, cite your sources / inspirations for your recipes. We automatically do this whenever you adapt a recipe already on thelonelyegg, but obviously we don't have everything here. It is always good to give credit where credit is due.
  2. Don't copy recipes straight out of a cookbook. More often than not, you make modifications to recipes to make the food to your own tastes, so let that come out when you are submitting. You can also give the descriptions a little personal flair and make them an interesting read. Your own tips and commentary make it more unique, but they also help other people making the recipe for the first time.

We believe that the primary joy of food is in the sharing, but if you believe your recipe has been stolen and submitted here without your approval, contact us at support [at] thelonelyegg.com and we will investigate the matter.