Still cursing copyright

On Wednesday I wrote to Hubert Kaufhold, editor of Oriens Christianus, which published the Syriac text of the fragments of Eusebius back in 1926 (OC 3).  I can’t find any evidence that the editor of that article, Gerhard Beyer, ever published anything else.  So … presumably the text is out of copyright, even under the daft and oppressive German copyright laws.  (If not, I shall have to waste time and money on getting a microfilm of the Vatican ms. and editing a text again from that – not what I want to do).

But… no reply.  Today I’ve emailed a colleague of his with the same query.

I’ve also  heard again from Brepols about the 500 words of Jerome and 580 words of Ambrose.  One awkward addition to the problem; if I include a translation of those two fragments based on the text they printed, they want control of my translation.  This would mean that I have to pay them not merely for the hardback, text and translation, but also for any popular paperback versions or magazine versions I might do of the translation only. 

That might be liveable with, although undesirable; but after the books are done with,  it would effectively prevent me placing the translation of the whole thing online under some kind of Creative Commons license, which is what I have in mind.  And that would destroy the point of the whole thing.

Perhaps instead I should have two different translations; one for book form, based on the critical text, and the other for online based on Mai.  That would allow me to give away the latter one.  The minor differences wouldn’t matter to 99% of those who read it, and the rest could consult the book form.

Fortunately I didn’t know the critical texts existed when the translation was made, so I already have the latter.  When I found out about the Jerome I passed a copy to the translator to collate, and I have his notes on the differences.  So effectively I do have the two versions of this already.  The Anastasius of Sinai has yet to reach me, but with luck that won’t be more difficult.

But all this is extra buggeration, which adds no value to anyone’s life and puts no money in anyone’s pocket.  It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

I have no urge to be a publisher.  What we want is English translation of patristic texts online where the world can use them.  If I were a rich man, I would simply hire the staff and churn them out.  Because I am poor, it is necessary for me to sell some copies to fund the next round. 

But all this crap does drain away my time and energy, I must say.  That may limit what I do.  Once everything just makes you feel tired, why do it?

2 thoughts on “Still cursing copyright

  1. Hi Roger, My advise is to have it published in the UK because the copyright laws as I understand them place the text in public domain after 50 years of publication and 70 years after the death of the author.
    Sorry about the problem.

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