There’s a proliferation of books, both printed and electronic (downloadable from the Web), that purport to tell you how to copy your favorite dishes from your favorite restaurants. Some of these are better than others, but they all raise the question: Is it legal to “copycat” recipes in this way?
These days, with the music industry going after people who use file-sharing services to illegally post songs for others to copy, and with prominent anti-copying warnings from the FBI stuck on every movie DVD we rent or purchase, it’s a natural question. People wonder if they are breaking some law by cloning a restaurant’s most famous recipe–whether it’s by passing around the instructions or by actually cooking and serving it to friends.
Mind you, I’m no lawyer. But I’ve talked to a couple of lawyer friends as well as to a number of restaurant managers. The bottom line is this: If you cook up your favorite steak or lobste