The Library Basement
Reading under ground

"Theft" of ancient texts?

Over at b-greek it was pointed out that some freely-available editions of Patrologia Graeca had been taken from a collection on which Thesaurus Linguae Graecae claimed copyrights.

I'd like to take this opportunity to once again question whether ancient texts should be copyrightable. On the one hand, digital transcription requires significant work and I'd like to see publishers rewarded for their efforts. On the other hand, modern editors of ancient texts have no sensible claim of copyright. Indeed, if their source texts were not in the public domain, they themselves would be guilty of copyright violation, as derivative works are covered by the original author's copyrights.

So how do you keep publishers motivated to continue at transcription without the revenue stream which comes from leveraging copyright law? Once again I'd like to argue for the patronage system. If the text is desired in a digital format, the community at large can raise funds for the transcription effort. Then publishers can be further rewarded by profits made from sale of physical media, etc.

Category: κτλ