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February 2018 M T W T F S S « Jan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Is anyone eligible to distribute ancient and classical texts commercially?
With one edge case as an exception.
An editor does work in reconstructing the original form of an ancient text preserved in manuscripts. That work is intellectual labour, and it can end up being substantial intellectual labour. But it has not usually been deemed a sufficient contribution for the editor to claim copyright over the ancient text they’ve reconstructed.
(They could claim copyright over the Critical apparatus of the text; and it’s no coincidence that the TLG has never entered the app crit in their digitised texts.)
But if a text is extremely fragmentary, and the editor has expended considerable ingenuity in filling in the blanks—and that does happen in some work attested in scraps of papyrus—then most of the words in the text might be not on the papyrus at all, and might be the editor’s IP instead. In that case the editor may well have more of a claim of intellectual ownership.