Thoughts on copyright and ancient texts in modern editions

The Patrologist

What exactly is the copyright status of ancient texts in modern editions?

Nobody knows and most of us are too afraid to find out. I’m not a lawyer, and this is not a legal opinion, but it is an opinion about legal matters. Also, copyright legislation differs from country to country, and I am speaking more generally.

Personally I’m of the view that copyright is a bad way to solve the problem of protecting authorial rights, creatives’ incomes, and intellectual property. I am all for authors having rights, creatives generating income for their labour, and intellectual work being rewarded, I am unconvinced that intellectual property law is the best way to do it. Particularly, the analogue of intellectual property to real property is problematic, in that theft involves the deprivation of a good from someone, and copying by definition does not involve theft, but replication.

Nonetheless, we are all living…

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