Commercial use of my stuff by someone else?

Today I received an email from “Delphi Classics” asking if they could use the Eusebius translations from my website for an upcoming eBook of the works of Eusebius.  These consist of translations now out of copyright, which I scanned, plus material that others sent me, and stuff that I commissioned myself.  They’re not offering me money, of course.

It was bound to happen.  Indeed it has probably happened already, without my knowledge.  It’s a funny feeling, to think of someone else making money out of my hard work.

They’re not intending to contribute anything – they just see a commercial opportunity.  Maybe they are right.

I have sent them an email of consent, all the same.  The purpose of everything I do is to make stuff freely and widely available.  If these people can get the works into the hands of more people, then this is well and good.

I do not believe that there is any real money in the fathers. I’ve never made a penny from what I do.  I owe all my interest to the work of the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, by Harry Plantinga, back in the day, who made the original Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers available to us all for nothing.  I can hardly do otherwise.

Copyright can be a real obstacle.  Long ago I used to be interested in a role-playing game called Empire of the Petal Throne.  This never became very widely known.  The author, M. A. R. Barker, was obsessed with control of the publishing rights.  This concern came out all over the place; and I always felt that it must have limited the circulation of EPT material.  I never wanted to do that.

So I’ve let them do what they want.  I hope that they sell a shed-load of Eusebius books.  Who knows who will read them and be inspired?

All the same, it’s still a funny feeling.

4 thoughts on “Commercial use of my stuff by someone else?

  1. Your post struck a nerve. Namely, companies that sell eBooks at ridiculous prices for use in their programs (You know their names) that are available for free on Google or Internet Archive or several other free sites. I know their answer to my complaint is that their books are integrated into their software which can be easily queried for research. I find myself wondering do they really think the public is that ignorant? Nowadays, I make myself check a number of places on the internet before I spend the money only to find the book is available for free. Sometimes these books are obscenely priced for hundreds of dollars. Anyway, that’s the way I feel. Cheers!

  2. Funny, I was just thinking about Barker and Empire of the Petal Throne the other day. Way ahead of its time – an RPG world that fully realized was radically outside the norm for the early days, and to some extent still is unusual. But, yeah, he decided TSR wasn’t going to support him enough, and bounced Tekumel through half a dozen publishers at least, most of them tiny.

    Compare to what TSR did with the Forgotten Realms starting in the mid-80s, another setting that matched Tekumel in volume of material (though not close in originality), as Ed Greenwood was just monstrously productive. Of course, Greenwood sold the rights to TSR, allowed others to build on his work, and then happily contributed to it for years. As a result, it’s not just the most familiar RPG setting on the planet, but familiar to many who have never played D&D.

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