Mechandising electronic texts

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Thu Feb 27 16:48:46 UTC 1997

This is a serious development.  The e-texts of the Mahabharata and
Ramayana (at least, probably others) are explicitly copyrighted, and the
copyright explicitly notes that these files are free *for scholarly
purposes*.  Anyone wishing to distribute them commercially must seek
permission and negotiate terms.  In other words, normal international
copyright conditions apply.  These terms certainly seem to have been
abrogated in the case mentioned.  However, in cases like this, it can be
that the company is only charging for the cost of the media, and the cost
of postage and distribution.  If the cost really is 20DM, then this sounds
like what is happening, and it is probably to be treated as inocuous.
150DM is more than the cost of postage or the medium.

I stress again the importance of adding a COPYRIGHT statement to any files
you make publicly available.  This does not mean the files can't be freely
copied for scholarly purposes, but it provides some means of trying to
ensure that the person who did the work of creating the files has a
legitimate claim on any serious profits that might some time be made from

In the present case, I can only suggest that the copyright holders of the
files being distributed should write to the errant company, and try to
negotiate royalty terms.  If that fails, the sue the pants off them!

All the best,

Dominik Wujastyk               Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
email: d.wujastyk at          183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, England
<URL:>                    FAX: 44 171 611 8545

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list