Recipe in copyrighted collection lacks individual protection
ILLINOIS–In early July, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago (7th Cir.) lifted an injunction imposed by a lower federal court against the publication of cookbooks which copied recipes from a copyrighted Dannon Yogurt cookbook. The court held that the copyright only protected the manner in which the recipes were compiled and presented, and not their individual content.
The court decided that the recipes in dispute were “functional listing[s] of ingredients” and not protected, even though the culinary combinations might be original in a non-copyright sense.
The federal District Court in Chicago in October 1995 enjoined the publication of cookbooks by Publications International, Limited (PIL) after the Meredith Corporation demonstrated that it was likely to prevail at trial. Meredith presented the court with evidence that PIL had poached recipes beginning in 1992 from “Discover Dannon–50 Fabulous Recipes with Yogurt” and other publications.
The appeals court disagreed, ruling that even though the Meredith cookbooks were protected by copyright, the copyright was a “compilation” copyright, for a work that arranges preexisting materials in such a way that the work as a whole is original. (Publications International, Limited v. Meredith Corporation; Publisher’s Counsel: Alan Cooper, Washington, D.C.)