[Sca-cooks] [foodmanuscriptproject] Need (international) copyright advice

James Prescott prescotj at telusplanet.net
Mon Jan 16 21:05:32 PST 2012

The original words are long out of copyright. If you translate from 
the original words then the translation is entirely yours, and can be 
published with you as copyright owner of the translation. Up to and 
including the entire work, but excluding any introduction or essay or 
other material that is modern.

The facsimile itself is copyright (though not in all jurisdictions 
since some would call it a purely mechanical operation not of the 
same nature as an art photograph, but be safe and treat it as having 
a valid copyright), so you cannot reproduce the facsimile without 

It might be courteous to ask them if you intended a full translation 
into English, but they cannot forbid you.  Also, they might want to 
co-operate !

The status of the transcription is murky. Some jurisdictions would 
call it a purely mechanical process, while some might allow a claim 
that it involved intellectual input and could be copyright. So do 
your own transcription and translation from the original. It is fine 
to then compare your transcription with theirs and if they differ 
decide which is correct. You might be right and they might be wrong. 
I've found on at least one occasion that the translation process led 
me to correct a transcription. Assume that a photo-reproduction of 
the printed text of their transcription would be subject to their 

Fair use of portions is a separate question, and the definition of 
"fair use" varies between jurisdictions, but is not going to be more 
restrictive than your general rights. So translations from the 
original for use at Pennsic are fine, as would be reproductions of 
minor portions of the facsimile and of the transcription.

Again, the original words are long out of copyright, and nobody can 
put them back into copyright, no matter how hard they try, nor how 
much they might want to.

James / Thorvald

At 2:06 PM -0500 1/16/12, Robin Carroll-Mann wrote:
>  Forgive the cross-posting; I'm trying to query all the people who are
>  most likely to have an answer for me.
>  I just received a book that I ordered as a Christmas gift for myself.
>  It's "Regalo de la vida humana", a 16th century health and cooking
>  manual.  The author was an official of the Spanish Kingdom of Navarre.
>   He did not complete the book before his death, and it was never
>  published until a few years ago.  The original manuscript -- the only
>  existing copy -- belongs to the National Library of Austria.  They
>  gave a high quality facsimile to the government of the Spanish
>  Province of Navarre, which commissioned the book I received today.
>  It's in two volumes.  The first volume is a facsimile.  The second
>  contains a transcription, as well as essays and notes on the work.
>  There are two copyright notices on the book: one for the National
>  Library of Austria and one for the Government of Navarre.
>  My question is this: if I translate some of the recipes and post those
>  translations on email lists and/or my website, am I violating
>  copyright?  (I'm assuming that I will NOT post the text of the
>  original Spanish.)  This is rather different than other period
>  cookbooks I've worked from, as those were published in period, and
>  there are digital and print copies available from many different
>  sources.  In this case, there is only one possible source for the
>  material.
>  I am in the U.S., but as both copyright holders are European, I assume
>  that EU laws and regulations apply.  I would appreciate knowledgeable
>  advice on this matter.  Perhaps I'm worrying about nothing, but I'd
>  rather know for sure.  At present, I only wish to translate and test
>  recipes, but I could envision eventually teaching a class at Pennsic.
>  I'd certainly want to know where the legal lines were drawn before
>  preparing a handout.
>  --
>  Brighid ni Chiarain, OL
>  MKA: Robin Carroll-Mann
>  rcarrollmann at gmail.com

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