Eusebius update

The book is still selling well, I think.  Amazon are fulfilling orders quite quickly, or so I hear, which says that they are holding stock and, pleasingly, selling them!

Carol Downer and her team, who did the translation of the Coptic fragments, are thinking about translating more of the Coptic catena.  I am encouraging them!

A rather interesting copyright issue has developed with the book.   For the Eclogue, I licensed the Greek text edited by Claudio Zamagni from Les Editions du Cerf, who publish the Sources Chretiennes series.

I myself do not believe that copyright was ever intended to apply to the raw Greek or Latin text of ancient authors, however edited.  The publishing industry has pushed for ever more copyright, and I am told that some German courts have even acknowledged such ownership, improbable as it seems.  But I wanted no trouble, and indeed the Cerf were very easy to deal with and asked a modest percentage (unlike Brepols, whose demands were so outrageous that I was forced to use a pre-critical text and simply note the difference — five words! — in the footnotes).

But today I learn from Dr. Zamagni that he never licensed his Greek text to the Cerf.  His contract with them left the ownership of that (if any) in his own hands.  He tells me that the Cerf have acknowledged this.  Naturally I have written back and asked his permission to use it, and I have also written to the Cerf and queried the facts.  After all, if they don’t have any claim on the copyright, I don’t owe them any money.

I’m sure the Cerf negotiated in good faith, and I will happily give them the free copies that were part of the deal.  But I suspect Dr. Z. is quite right about the legalities. 

But it all raises an interesting issue.  Surely every scholar should ensure that the raw Greek text of his labours should not become the supposed property of Bloggins and Co?  After all, a scholar may wish to do an editio minora, and should not have to pay to use his own work again!

None of us would deny a publisher the chance for a return on his work.  But this whole business of claiming copyright on the works of someone dead 16 centuries smells, whatever the legal trickery.  I suggest that scholars put an end to it by declining to include that text within their deals with publishers.  Apparatus? Fine by me.  Translations?  Ditto.  Commentaries?  Ditto.  Wherever real work is done, it is fine that a copyright exist.  But where someone is merely editing a corrupt text back to what the author wrote, the circulation of the raw text should NOT be obstructed by copyright.


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