A discussion of copyrights, and Irish Soda Bread

Food blogging, I have come to discover over the last year, has an etiquette and terminology all its own. Was this recipe adapted from or inspired by that one? What is your SEO ranking? Do you have WordPress.com or .org? (WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?!?!) /end caps lock of doom. So many things to keep track of!

The adapted-from/inspired-by argument has gone on much longer, I’m sure, than my food blog has been around. But if you were curious, I recently (as in, two minutes ago) found an excellent article by David Lebovitz that aptly describes my own approach. (Thank you, thank you, thank you to my book club ladies for having this discussion before I ever started my blog.)

Lebovitz snapshots the official US Copyright Office language, and proceeds to discuss it at length. Like most government lingo, it leaves the reader asking, “What does this actually say in plain English?” In short, he expounds: even if you don’t change a thing about the way you make someone else’s recipe – ingredients, process, nada – while you’re free to reproduce the ingredient list as is (after all, how many ways can you say 1/2 tsp. cinnamon?), rewrite the instructions in your own words. (That’s just good form regardless.)

If you modify a recipe, use the phrase “Adapted from.” If you modify it substantially, you can call it yours – but if it still bears resemblance, it’s good form to give a nod to the original, or note that your recipe is “Inspired by.” Three or more ingredients changed usually mean you can call a recipe your own. Regardless, it’s good form to give credit where credit is due.

I’d recommend reading the rest of the article if you’re curious; Lebovitz does an admirable job of explaining a complicated and polarizing topic.

In that vein: I actually have a recipe for you today that I can pretty safely say is my own, but inspired by (wink wink) Saveur’s Irish soda bread recipe. This turned out so ridiculously well, I couldn’t wait to hop online and share it with you!

It’s perfect as a side to your corned beef and cabbage, beef and Guinness pie, or other entree of choice for St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Soda Bread


  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups Nancy's organic fat-free yogurt


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Meanwhile, sift into a large bowl the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs; add dates and stir, breaking up any clumps.
  3. Make a well in the middle of the pastry mixture. Add the egg and yogurt, and mix with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Briefly knead the dough into a round loaf shape, and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  5. Use a knife to cut a 1/2" deep X over the dough.
  6. Bake at 425 degrees F about 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  7. Let cool briefly; slice and serve at your desired temperature - warm, room temp, or toasted.

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    • thecurriednut says:

      Thank you!! :)

      To this day I still get confused about the inspired/adapted bit, so it was really nice to find David Lebovitz’s article. :) I’m sure I’ll come back to it for reference in the future!

    • thecurriednut says:

      Thanks Mimi! :) I tried a little bit this afternoon and it came out amazingly – if I do say so myself. LOL! A bit denser than “usual” bread with the whole wheat and yogurt, but ohhh such a nice crispy crust!

  1. Anne Elizabeth Baldwin says:

    That sounds about right for the copyright rules. {Smile}

    As for adapted from vs. inspired by, that sounds about right. I don’t think there is a clear dividing line between the two. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. Phil Davenport says:

    I will try to give a nod to recipes that I adapt from in the future, but… Most recipies that I try, I can safely call my own. I substitute, omit and add ingredients left and right and modify the preparation and serving instructions almost always, if I can remember exactly what I did! :)

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