Us Kats have an incredibly sophisticated food palette, and not just any slop will satiate our food-based requirements. As such, this Kat enjoys his food-based litigation, especially in the remit of intellectual property. Recipes are one form of literary grandeur that faces Lady Copyright's fickle nature more often than not, and a recent decision in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was no exception.
|Some tomato-based things can be original|
At first instance the cookbook was seen as not protected by copyright. In her judgment Judge Gaughan saw that "Although copyright protection may extend to a recipe book or cookbook to the extent it is a compilation, the copyright protection afforded to compilations extends to the “order and manner of the presentation of the compilation’s elements, but does not necessarily embrace those elements"". What Ms. Carroll had argued was a copying of the recipes themselves, not their arrangement, which would not fall under the remit of copyright. A copying or use of the recipes would not be copyright infringement, only the expression of those recipes.
The Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Gaughan. The judges saw that, as it has been firmly established, compilation works, such as recipe books, will generally not be protected by copyright unless "...the collection and assembling of pre-existing materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original authorship". Ms. Carroll argued that, as Mr. Moore had conducted his trial-and-error process and the recipes had been arranged and compiled in a very specific way, the book would be original. The Court disagreed, focusing on what is unoriginal rather than what would be original.
|Ginger was not a fan of this new 'fruit'|
Recipes are incredibly difficult to protect, and without much added substance to the recipes themselves they will fail the test of originality. Many chefs and food creators would undoubtedly love legislation allowing the protection of recipes, but it seems highly unlikely that that would be the case any time soon.