This post reflects our current understanding of copyrights within the recipe industry at the time of writing. It is not legal advice. Always consult with a lawyer.
As a content creator online, you have a copyright on (almost) all original content you produce.
It's not necessary to explicitly state this on your website, but it can be useful to add it to your footer for clarification.
What can be copyrighted?
Automatic copyright applies to:
- content (eg. creative expression)
However, you can not copyright a list of ingredients.
If a site duplicates your ingredients, there's no violation. If they include any of your content or your images, you can file copyright claims on those.
If someone is infringing on your copyrights, it's a best practice to first reach out and request they take it down. In many cases, it's a mistake because they don't know better. Food brands and restaurants that post recipes typically fall under this situation.
However, in some cases it's intentional - such as a low quality site scraping and posting copyrighted content in order to rank and compete for it. Our recommendation in these cases is:
- First, to submit the DMCA complaint through Google so that Google de-lists the page and "counts" the take-down against the website
- Second, to submit the DMCA complaint to the website's hosting company, which forces the hosting company to take the page offline
The sequence is important: you want Google to find and remove the content first, before you have it taken fully offline. Multiple DMCA complaints against a website is a signal to search engines that this is a low quality website doing illegal things, which penalizes it.
Digital Millenium Copyright Act
The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) is a law that allows you to file copyright infringement notices to have your copyrighted content taken offline.
In particularly egregious cases, we recommend filing the notice with Google first, and then with the hosting company, after the content has been taken off Google.
- You can submit a DMCA compliant to Google through the Google Search Console DMCA dashboard
- You can also submit one without being logged in via Remove Content from Google tool
- Here's the page to submit a DMCA notice to Bing
- You can also submit copyright claims to the company that hosts a website
Common hosting companies
DMCA notices sent to Google may also be submitted to Lumen. You can use their tool to see if an infringing website has a history of unauthorized content theft.
Jamie Lieberman of HASHTAG Legal is familiar with the recipe niche and we'd highly recommend contacting her for more specific questions about copyrights.
While I wouldn't take this as a definitive guide, this article on is web scraping legal provides some clarification around the different issues.