Paul Chandler writes to query what is happening with the Documenta Catholica Omnia site.
Roger, do you know the story of Documenta Catholica Omnia and what’s going on there? Their project seems hugely ambitious but strangely unusable. They had the Patrologia Latina up in beautifully OCRed, proof-read, re-typeset versions, keyed in the margin to the Migne columns (so useful!). It must have been an enormous amount of work. But the PL was distributed over 12,000 separate files, and basically could not be searched. Now they have taken down this “beta version” and are replacing it with PDF page scans, which are available elsewhere (Google Books, Gallica), and which seems a totally backward step.
There is much else there, but in barely usable forms, unless you just want to download a treatise or two. Migne’s projects were remarkable, but he published some of the worst-printed books of the 19th century, on the worst paper. PDFs of tatty library copies of Migne volumes are not the advance we need for the 21st century!
Paul is not wrong. Take a look at the Augustine materials. Files marked MLT are from Migne; and these are clearly bitmaps.
I also looked at Cyril of Alexandria. The MGR material I suspect is supposed to be Migne (Greek). But opening a few of the files reveals a copyright notice at the top, giving the TLG as the origin and that these are now appearing there by permission.
I don’t know who runs the DCO site. Doing a Whois search tells me only that it is an Italian site. But I would guess that all the material was in fact taken without permission from the Proquest digitised version of the Patrologia Latina. This used to be available in CDROM form, and was widely pirated in Eastern Europe years ago. After all, with a price of $23,000, what else could people do? It looks to me as if the copyright people have attacked the site. Probably the whole thing is the work of a few people, and, although the original texts cannot possibly be in copyright, those people couldn’t afford the lawyers to uphold it.
It looks as if they did a deal with the TLG people for the raw Greek texts, which I always suspected were not from Migne but from the TLG. It may be relevant that the TLG director has an Italian name. But all credit to the TLG, who I believe have made the right decision here. Professional scholars will increasingly want more than bare Greek text, and I believe the TLG is moving to supply that, parsed and morphologised and cross-referenced. But ordinary people will still find value in the simple text.
Paul has a further question, which is very interesting:
Also I heard today that some group in the U.S. has begun a project to scan, OCR and make searchable the PL (and PG?) and make it available at a small fraction of the ProQuest price. Apparently the first CD is being offered a pre-publication subscription price. This would be a wonderful boon to scholars without access to such expensive resources. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to track down any details. Have you heard of this?
Is this perhaps the Logos effort, that I vaguely recall hearing about? Here?