Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ancient texts, consensus, and copyright

From time to time there are discussions of public domain use of ancient texts. With the Hebrew Bible and the Michigan/Clarement/Westminster MT we have something in the public domain. With Westcott-Hort we have something in the public domain, but with the continuing NA27/UBS4 series we have something approaching a consensus text but with a copyright restriction on use.

Is there any hope that a consensus eclectic text will be public domain? (Not the footnotes and critical data, just the plain semblance of the ancient text.)

For example, The Zondervan Greek Reader apparently could not use UBS4 as their base text because of copyright questions, despite only being interested in the base Greek text, not the footnotes and textual data.

Also, the McFeister MP3 Erasmian reading of the Greek NT apparently used WH because of copyright problems with UBS4.

Is there a move somewhere to rectify this kind of thing?

5 Comments:

maurice a robinson said...

Buth: "The Zondervan Greek Reader apparently could not use UBS4 as their base text because of copyright questions, despite only being interested in the base Greek text, not the footnotes and textual data."

Zondervan as well as anyone else should have been able to "license" the NA27/UBS4 Greek text, just as do the various software publishers that carry the same.

It appears to me that the real reasons Zondervan chose to produce its "own" text were twofold:

1) The text purports to be that underlying the NIV. Even though that hypothetical text would differ slightly (only very slightly!) from the NA27/UBS4, it still would be "distinct" (and thus offer Zondervan its own "exclusive copyright" which they can then "license" to others);

and,

2) Zondervan simply did not want to pay and pass on to the consumer the high royalty payment (which used to be US$10 but now I understand is somewhere near US$20) demanded by the Bible Societies for "licensing permission".

This of course opens the floodgates for anyone who might want to alter any pre-existing published text in a few dozen places and slap their own copyright on it. Regarding that, I have my own opinion....

Stephen C. Carlson said...

For an exemplary attitude toward copyright and a critical Greek text, I invite people to study the copyright statement in Robinson and Pierpont's edition of the NT. I wish that more would follow in their footsteps.

P J Williams said...

When the Editio Maior Iohannes edited jointly by members of the IGNTP and INTF comes out some time in the next decade (DV) you should have a high quality consensus text and it seems probable that it will be with open copyright.

Jim Aitken said...

Currently Classicists are looking into making an Open Source TLG. A workshop will be held later this month in London on the issue: "Open Source Critical Editions".

I quote the purpose: "The aim of this meeting is to discuss academic,
administrative, and technical issues surrounding the topic of the digital publication and processing of critical texts, with special
reference to the Greek and Latin corpus."

There is some information on the web, but the Wiki seems to be down at the moment.

P J Williams said...

A veritable ευαγγελιον. Thanks Jim.