Can I Post Adaptations of Published Recipes on My Food Blog?

Good Questions

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Q: I'm in the process of starting a food blog and was wondering if I can publish adaptations of recipes I find online, as long as I credit the original author and link back to the original recipe?

Sent by Tracy

Editor: Tracy, as far as copyright goes, the photos and explanation of steps accompanying a recipe are protected under copyright law, but the list of ingredients for a recipe cannot be copyrighted, so technically you could post a rewritten recipe that uses the exact same ingredients without crediting the original source, and not be in violation of the law. You probably wouldn't make many friends in the food-blogging world, though.

Speaking personally, I occasionally see adaptations of my own recipes pop up around the web. I appreciate when bloggers credit me clearly and prominently — even better if it is my name rather than "The Kitchn" — and when they actually rewrite the instructions. Many people simply copy and paste. This is wrong, both in the eyes of the law and from a perspective of common decency. Recipe writers put many hours into developing and writing good recipes; they deserve the credit and, even better, the clicks! 

The best solution of all, in my opinion, if you want to share a recipe without adding significant changes, is to post your own photos, write up your experience of making the recipe, and link to the original recipe rather than posting an adaptation that is barely changed from the original. We publish these as Recipe Reviews here on The Kitchn, if you want to see some examples.

Readers, what do you think? If you write recipes, how do you like to see them credited on other food blogs? What guidelines do you follow on your own blog?

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(Image: Elizabeth Passarella)