Ethics of selling other peoples blends

Hey guys,

I’ve been struggling trying to figure out where to draw the line between an original blend and an adapted blend. I sell e juice at a very cheap price locally, I cover my costs and have enough to reinvest to get more flavours etc, I really don’t take any profit. I’m just providing a service as a hobby, and to cover my vaping. I vape pretty much every recipe I find interesting on here, mainly for inspiration. But some of the recipes I find on here are simply amazing, and I would like to share them with my customers.

I’m not 100% on what is ethical in this situation. I mean, all these recipes are public domain, so there isn’t any stealing going on. If I love a recipe, what is the ethical amount to change flavourings to call it my own? 20%? 50%? Is the flavour profile alone intellectual property? The lines are pretty blurry here. Currently I don’t sell any one else’s blends, unless a customer asks me to make him a particular one.

If I were to use a recipe from another creator, would simply acknowledging their work be enough to be ethical?

I don’t want to beat myself up in the future for selling another persons work.

Curious to hear your thoughts. Cheers

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They’re not public domain unless a recipe creator states that the recipe is public domain.
Just because something is freely available does not mean it’s public domain.

That said - and I’m no lawyer - but I remember reading once that a recipe can’t be copyrighted. So legally, you can do what you want.

But you mentioned ethics, and that’s a great concern to have. But ethics are subjective and everyone has an opinion. For instance, if someone used a recipe of mine - which probably won’t happen cuz I’m not that good - then I’d love to get credited. I’d love it even more if a percentage of the profits went to ELR as a donation. Or got donated to a worthy charity.

As for calling it your own… Also subjective. Since you’re obviously an ethical person, what do your ethics say? Did you change the recipe enough to feel that your changes made a noticeable difference? If you say Yes, then that would be good enough for me to consider you to be ethical about it.

Think about those items in the grocery store that say “New & Improved!”. Yeah, sure. Any change could be called new and improved even if it tasted like crap afterwards. Or if they substituted some cheaper item in the recipe - that’s New & Improved. And hardly ethical.

Ethics go a long way. I like them.


Considering the current state of affairs with the FDA regs, I don’t think I’d sell anyone anything or talk about.

Technically, according to the US Copyright office, recipes (I’m guessing they mean food but it may be applicable here) are not copyrightable if they’re only a list of ingredients. On the other side of the coin, this article, says a derived work has “[e]nough [of the original work] that the average person would conclude that it had been based on or adapted from the prior work.” Then, only the changes in the derivative work are considered copyrightable.

So, legalese and mumbo jumbo aside, if you wanna be a jerk, you can pretty much do whatever you want with any of the recipes on the site as long as they aren’t accompanied by a detailed procedure list, literary work, or illustration. (@Wayne_Walker comes to mind with the videos he posts. Guessing his would be copyrightable and maybe he can give some insight here.)

HYPOTHETICALLY speaking, if I were thinking of selling a juice that had been created or inspired by someone else and it were feasible, I’d ask them personally and I’d put it on the label. Most people here are are usually okay with others using their recipes for whatever as long as credit is given where it is due. If something is changed so much that you wouldn’t recognize it, it’s yours. If you can tell it’s based on another recipe, it’s not.

My 0.02. :wink:


At the very least if you are enjoying/selling someones mix give them a shout out , most don’t care about money just the recognition of their accomplishment.


Being ethical about using a recipe from ELR is the least of your worries if you are in the US. As of Aug 8, 2016, those who blend juice and sell are tobacco manufacturers and subject to FDA regulations and the FEEs, Registration of Manufacturer, Pre Market Tobacco Application per each product, the list goes on and on. I highly recommend you keep it within the family and friends and MUMS the word…


^^This. As long as you’re acknowledging the creator of the recipe and they’re cool with it (which I would assume most of the people posting public recipes here would be), I see no ethical dilemma. But in the end, what @ringling said is unfortunately true. Be very careful. It’s a whole lotta BS but you wouldn’t want to get yourself in trouble if you can help it.


I’m in Canada, its still the wild west up here (or north rather). The only affect the FDA rulings will have on us, is only on importing E juices from the US (I’m not a lawyer, but i’m certain this infringes on some free trade agreements, as businesses in Canada could be at risk).

I appreciate all the input guys. I suppose I misspoke, its not public domain. If I post something on the site, and 1/100 people make a buck off of it, its really no big deal to me. Some of you may receive messages from me in the near future! haha


I asked a similar question prior to aug 8th. I’ve stopped since the 8th. It’s not worth the potential risk.

Aside from that it was recomended the highest rate to charge was $10/30ml. So I would often do acouple 30ml bottles and toss in a few 15ml bottles for giggles. I would also show them how much I have read here on ELR and Vu…to recommend they could learn to DIY. I felt that covered all of my ethical/moral requirements. I wouldn’t sell at bnm prices.


In that case, you can’t sell anything you make off the site. You Canadrians can’t have anything!! No juice for you! :stuck_out_tongue: I think you’re good, regardless. Most people won’t mind and even if they do, it’s not like you’re operating a multi-million dollar entire store based on their recipes.

But if you do, I demand 10%. :wink:


I usually do $20 for a 65ml bottle or 3 for $50 plus free samples. Cheaper to some people. Like I said before, I’m not trying to make money off of it, just pretty much gives me something to do while I’m off of work (Back injury in January, then a car wreck in march). Also, I’m disgusted at the prices for juice at stores now, sometimes even as high as $30 for a 30ml.


I’m in pretty much the same boat as you there, there’s been a lot of talk recently about exactly this, I sell to a select few also, and although I haven’t sold any recipes off ELR yet as I am still kinda new, I have sold recipes I have found online as well as my own, but the people I sell to always know who’s recipe it is and I don’t change the name, and in fact the only one’s that we’rent mine were clones anyway so not really sure where you’d draw the ethical line there lol. It’s something I’ve given thought to this past week and If I’m enjoying someones recipe off here at work and someone asks me for some…which will happen as it has in the past, I too will be messaging the original mixer and asking permission to sell, and I always give credit where credit is due, I’m hoping one day to be as good as the best mixers on here and if someone asks me the same question, then that will be a good day in my eyes :wink::+1:.


You are extremely honest and good. This is hobby for me and I only give stuff to my kids and a neighbor or two. You might want to think about it this way though…

This is a sharing site. From a legal perspective (business wise) When you sign up for this site yes, you are using others recipes but as you progress in your knowledge you are also sharing your knowledge and findings - so the question becomes - who owns the intellectual property?

People are "willingly" sharing this information with each other and no one is being compensated for sharing what they know. If they were being paid for their intellectual contribution it is a totally different animal.

To my knowledge, none of us are being paid. Everyone shares, everyone benefits.

The owner of the site has a lot of rights. For one thing, he can shut it down any time he wants. He asks for donations and he has ground rules for participation. It’s my understanding he runs ads and gets some kind of residual income from website advertising which he is totally entitled to and I’m very glad he benefits from! It keeps us all here. The people he allows to advertise to us benefit from it too but they are paying for access to his collective group as advertisers. They should be paying him for access to this group of people.

So understanding that, it really is ethics. The best thing to me you can do is give credit to the person.

I’m a photographer. I give away some of my photography in limited situations. All I ask for from the non profits is they give me credit for my work because it’s a cheap form of advertising and word of mouth for me.


I’m gonna sound like an ass here…

ELR is about sharing a love for something, if you don’t want people to have your recipe don’t make it public.

If you have a public recipe:
If someone changes a flavour percentage even by half a percent it is no longer the same and therefore they can take ownership and can do whatever they like with it.

You don’t see people selling a replica brand cookie for example that have gone to the manufacturers for permission or given them credit, or any food for that matter you can get top chefs recipes, make it and sell it.

Politics and silliness, if you don’t want the latter keep your business to your self.


That’s fantastic. Then possibly just a mention of the creator BUT, I want you to keep in mind that you actually do not know who the creator is more than likely. All you see is that person’s handle. Someone mentioned above, I think @Jojo that recipes can not be copyrighted. Yes it’s for food but it is also for drinks and other like things. It’s gonna be no different with Ejuice recipes. Keep in mind that is true in the US, these recipes on ELR are kinda international though and other laws COULD apply. Not so sure I agree with the everything posted is copyrighted. It is my understanding that it must be branded COPYRIGHT or the copyright symbol, again in the US.

That being said if you want to sleep better at night then just private message the creator and make them aware of your intentions. 9 out of 10 will say yes I don’t mind you using my recipe. Some may even like to know how their recipes do in a retail environment…


I don’t think you sound like an ass at all. I agree with much of what you’re saying. The question was purely about the ethics of the matter, I’m curious as to how others in the community see it.


Oh no you are not an ass at all!

What we really have here with each other is an implied social contract. We have come together as civilized individuals to help one another. It is about love dammit!


In terms of ethics, this is the internet…
Check your ethics at the hub… Lol

Seriously though, If one of my recipes ever takes off on here feel free to put your name to it and sell it as your own, my recipes are your recipes to do what you like with, the ones I don’t want you to see will stay private and imo that’s how it should be.


The way I see it is I post it in a public forum for all to use and abuse* Then go for it. If it helps you support your vaping Glad I could help.

  • when I say use and abuse I mean straight up or adapted to your liking.

Now if some Company came to you and said hey, we’ll give you a million dollars for rights to your recipe. I certainly hope you would come to me and offer a split of some sort.

Scottes when you say a “recipe” are you talking they said recipe? Because all you have to do in that case is call it a formula and yes a formula can be copyrighted or patented. I’m pretty sure any way.

I was actually talking about a recipe as in a cook book - that’s where I heard it from.

JoJo’s statement make it a bit fuzzy, since a “recipe” - like cook book or here - is not just a list of ingredients. Either sounds - to my non-lawyer ears - more like a formula.

This article - - seems like a very interesting read on the subject. I’m going to go read it.

Edit: Meh. Leans towards recipes not being copyrightable but does not mention the measurements or formula in the recipe.

This link has more:

If your company develops a chemical formula, you protect it with a patent, not a copyright. You can patent a formula for “the composition of matter” – new compounds or chemicals – provided it meets three conditions. The new chemical must be useful. It must be significantly different from previous compounds. It must also be nonobvious – original enough that experts in your industry are surprised someone came up with such an idea.


The U.S. Copyright Office says online that while it doesn’t protect recipes or formulas, you may be able to copyright the way you express them. A recipe for red velvet cake isn’t copyrightable.

I’m of the “recipes can’t be copyrighted” opinion.

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