Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gastronomic Interlude

Cooking the Books* asks if it’s difficult to win a case of cookbook copying. The answer is YES. In Publications Int’l v. Meredith Corp., 88 F.3d 473 (7th Cir. 1996), the Seventh Circuit held that recipes in a cookbook didn't even qualify for copyright protection. It did allow that some recipes might be copyrightable. The Sixth Circuit agreed with the Seventh Circuit in an unpublished opinion, Lambing v. Godiva Choclatier, 142 F.3d 434 (6th Cir. 1998). A lower federal court in Texas disagreed, however, in Barbour v. Head, 178 F. Supp. 2d 758 (S.D. Tex. 2001). But a judge faced with these conflicting opinions is most likely going to find the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit more persuasive than a single trial court judge in the Southern District of Texas. Not that there’s anything wrong with Texas, or this particular judge, or trial court judges in general. Just sayin'.

It’s surprising that there isn’t more out there on this. Perhaps culinary types aren’t so litigious.

*Why the affiliation with a cooking blog? Because olive oil is thicker than water.

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