Lesley Ellen Harris spoke in Montreal at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference. The presentation focussed on legally using content as well as how bloggers can protect content they create and post on their own blogs.
Are Recipes Protected by Copyright?
Because the presentation was given to a group of food bloggers, the number one question asked throughout the food blogger’s conference related to reproducing recipes and whether recipes are protected by copyright.
Bottom line: a list of ingredients are not protected by copyright however the prose or words used to describe how to make the recipe is protected by copyright. Of course you can’t really protect phrases like, Add half a cup of sugar. So many food bloggers and recipe book authors try to create a style with specific phrases and wording so it’s obvious when someone is copying their style. Is a style protected by copyright? No, but the exact words used to describe how to make a recipe are protected by copyright. Changing a few words here and there is also not permitted; you can only use the ideas in the recipe instructions and any instructions you provide on your blog should be in your own words.
Is Attribution to Recipe Authors Mandatory?
Another big issue for food bloggers is attribution. Even if you use a list of ingredients without permission and you explain how to make the recipe in your own words, ethically you should attribute the original recipe author. You should also link to the author’s website or to the recipe itself if it’s available online.
Copyright Tips for Canadian Food Bloggers
Want further information on these issues? See this list of copyright tips for Canadian food bloggers on how to stay legal (legally use the content of others) and how to protect content you create and post on your blog and on other social media sites.
Click here to learn more about Canadian copyright law and how it affects food bloggers and others.
Think you know Canadian copyright law? Test your knowledge on Canadian copyright law with these 10 concepts about Canadian copyright law.
True or False?
1. Copyright law is the same throughout the world. T F
2. Canada is a member of the leading copyright convention, the Berne Convention. T F
3. Canada and all countries have the same copyright duration: life + 50 or fifty years after the author’s death. T F
4. If you have permission to reproduce an image in a print book, you may also post that image on your website. T F
5. Once you have copyright protection in Canada you automatically have protection in at least 174 countries (in addition to Canada) that belong to the Berne Copyright Convention. T F
6. Copyright registration is mandatory in Canada. T F
7. Fair use and fair dealing are exactly the same thing and both exist in the Canadian Copyright Act. T F
8. Even if an author has assigned the copyright to you, the author still has the right to prevent modifications that may be harmful to her reputation or honour. T F
9. If you cannot locate a copyright owner in Canada, then you may use that person’s content if you put in reasonable efforts to locate the owner even without obtaining an unlocatable copyright owner license from the Copyright Board of Canada. T F
10. There is an exception in the Canadian Copyright Act for individuals for the use of noncommercial user-generated content, which is sometimes called the YouTube or mashup provision. T F
ANSWERS: 1F; 2T; 3F; 4F; 5T; 6F; 7F; 8T; 9F; 10T.
Learn more about Canadian copyright law.
What is an Orphan Work?
An orphan work is one in which the copyright owner cannot be identified or located. Many countries are grappling with how to legislatively deal with orphan works. The Canadian Copyright Act has had a provision in its Act since 1988 to allow the Copyright Board of Canada to provide licences for the use of published works where the copyright holder cannot be located. Pages 273 – 278 of the book Canadian Copyright Law discusses how the unlocatable copyright owner provision works, how to apply to obtain a licence to use a work of an unlocatable copyright owner, and examples of licences granted by the Board.
Unlocatable Copyright Owner Licences
In the Copyright Board’s recently issued 2012-13 Annual Report, it is stated that 24 applications for an unlocatable copyright owner licence were filed with the Copyright Board and eight licenses issued in the fiscal year 2012-13. Licences were issued for the following purposes:
- synchronization, reproduction and communication to the public by telecommunication of an excerpt of a song
- reproduction and communication to the public of posters, periodicals and monographs
- the digital reproduction and the communication to the public by telecommunication of two jokes
- the mechanical reproduction and public performance of a musical work
- the reproduction and the republication on hard copy of the text in a book (this was a renewal of a previously granted licence)
- reproduction and communication of a photograph in a documentary film
- the reproduction, the making available and the communication to the public by telecommunication of three paintings
Do you have a work in which you cannot identify or locate the copyright owner? Apply to the Copyright Board of Canada for a licence!
Learn more about Canadian Copyright Law.