I am thinking of running an algorithm on TV shows which will output a written account of each show's contents. An example would be a written copy of the recipe used in a cooking show, which would be almost verbatim, but not a complete transcript and probably without any overall synopsis; just a few parts of the show. That being said, the algorithm would have to "watch" the whole show to discover the relevant parts.

Would I need a license from the owner of the show's copyright before doing so?

Would the answer be different if I watched the show myself, copied down the recipe by hand, and put it on a (commercial) website?

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    So is this "written account" of the show a verbatim transcript of the entire show dialogue? Or is it a synopsis of the story line with some verbatim parts, like the recipes? – BlueDogRanch Mar 6 '18 at 18:58
  • @BlueDogRanch, the latter. In fact, it'd mostly be just a few verbatim parts, no overall synopsis. – Wasabi Mar 6 '18 at 19:48

We need to distinguish normal TV shows from recipe shows, and further subdivide in terms of copying vs. information duplicating. Eventually you may need to be concerned with fair dealing.

Copyright protects expression, not ideas, so if you repackage the ideas (not the words), that is not infringement. Copying the words could be infringement. You cannot evade copyright protection by some minor or major re-wording of an original text. A list of facts is also not protected by copyright, and most recipes (minus the backstory) are collections of facts. You could extract the list of ingredients and mixing specifications, but you could not copy the paragraph about the history of hog-farming in Parma (although you could provide the same factual information, for example by remembering the essential facts from the show and writing your own paragraph).

There is the possibility of copying the paragraph about ham, under the fair dealing provisions. The copying would need to be for non-commercial research or study (or else criticism or review, or for the reporting of current events, but that seems to be not what you have in mind). Sect 29A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 is probably most germane to data mining. That section basically allows you to make a copy of a work for computational study, but you cannot transfer the copy to someone else. (You could report results to anyone, e.g. the number of definite article plus adjective sequences encountered in the corpus).

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The last part of the question is not yet answered. Mere recipes are not protected by copyright; they're factual. A typical cooking program includes instructions, advice, and possibly other enhancements above the mere reciple. Those are protected. If you retell the recipe in your own words, you'll be fine.

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