How do folks honor inspiration (and copyright)?

I’m new to creating content I intend to share publicly. The goal of Amateur Jack is to show people how, with the right tools, readers can do amazing things. It’s about taking a risk with someone else’s guidance to try something new.

As I started to prepare a post on preparing Xaiolongbao, a steamed soup dumpling, I realized it would be wrong to just post a recipe from the book, take pictures along the way, and call it an article.

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that my search returned lots of ‘how to structure recipes in your article’, but very few articles on the legal and moral aspect of copying or adapting recipes from the internet or books.

The content I could find seemed to agree: it is legal to duplicate an ingredients list as ingredients can’t be covered under copyright law in the US. (I should follow up on international law.) I think this article at ‘CopyrightLaws’ does a good job of laying out the consensus of what one can and cannot do.

  • You may copy an ingredients list. Ingredients lists cannot be copyrighted.
  • You may write the instructions in your own words.
  • You may share pictures, audio, and recordings related to your own process and experience with the dish.

I really liked this take from the Chef Eye’s Blog: you can copy an ingredients list then reword a set of instructions and provide your own pictures, but why not promote the original author instead?

I find myself wanting to tell folks about how to make Xaiolongbao, but my only recipe is from a book I’ve purchased. To quote Chef Eye’s post: I’ll talk around the recipe. I will provide a recipe for a delicious pan fried dumpling while also doing my best to convince you, the reader that you want more dumplings.

Of course Amateur Jack is about more than food. I think the moral and legal ramifications extend to DIY projects and personal betterment projects as well. I know I’ve grown in so many of my aspects of my life available free to me across sites just like Amateur Jack. I’ll be doing my best to give credit along the way to my own teachers.