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I'm writing a book. I want to use some recipes from Julia Child. Do I need the permission of Knopf?

I'm not using all recipes. Just Mousse au chocolat. And I would give her full credit.

asked by Dianna Jackson about 3 years ago

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9 answers 1371 views
cv
cv
added about 3 years ago

If you copy verbatim, absolutely.

Otherwise, consult your lawyer.

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PieceOfLayerCake
PieceOfLayerCake

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added about 3 years ago

That sounds like a "better safe than sorry" situation.

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pierino
pierino

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added about 3 years ago

There is a rights and permissions desk at Knopf. Contact them. You will probably have to pay a fee. Copyright infringement comes with a fine. Remember David Ruggieri?

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Smaug
added about 3 years ago

I would by no means act on this statement, but I have been told by a reasonably dependable source that recipes are not subject to copyright protection.

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pierino
pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added about 3 years ago

Actually they are subject to copyright protection. David Ruggieri who used to be on Food Network stole a recipe from Giuliano Buggiali which he put in his own book verbatim. He changed the background story and claimed it as his own. The giveaway was that it called for exactly 12 leaves of basil. Ruggieri was that dumb. Buggiali's editor or agent caught it. Ruggeri was sued and fined.

Smaug
added about 3 years ago

But was the problem with copying the content of the recipe or the copying of wording?

ChefJune
ChefJune

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added about 3 years ago

David Ruggerio (that's his name) had a lot more problems than just copying Giuliano Bugiali's recipe. If he had changed a couple of ingredients, he would have had no problems with that.

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ChefJune
ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 3 years ago

Dianna: you should always give full credit to any recipe author - even if you were just inspired by their recipe. That said, if you change the writing of the recipe, you can use Julia's recipe because you will have made it your own. For instance, specify a particular brand of chocolate, or change Semi-sweet to bittersweet, specify a particular vanilla extract, etc.; add or eliminate salt. Message me if you have further questions.

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sfmiller
added about 3 years ago

The U.S. Copyright Office distinguishes between a "recipe" as a list of ingredients (not copyrightable) and the descriptive prose (introductory text, step-by-step instructions) and illustrations that accompany it (copyrightable).

From their website:

"Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook."

So listing exactly the same ingredients as Julia Child's mousse recipe would not violate copyright, but copying her headnote or step-by-step instructions would (whether you credit her or not).

If you paraphrase the instructions, putting them in your own words, there shouldn't be a problem. But it never hurts to run it past the publisher. They deal with issues like this all the time.

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