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Home :: Archive :: 1991 :: September ::
Public Domain Shakespeare Project
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 228. Friday, 20 Sep 1991.
 
(1)	Date: 	18 September 91, 21:48:15 EST
	From: 	C. Stuart Hunter <
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	Subj: 	Shakespeare's narrative poems
 
(2)	Date:   Thu, 19 Sep 91 12:49:20 EST
	From: 	"Lee A. Jacobus" <
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	Subj:   Re: SHK 2.0216  Public Domain Texts: A Proposal
 
(3)	Date: 	Thu, 19 Sep 91 13:25:27 CDT
	From: 	Richard A. Gale <
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	Subj: 	Re: Public Domain Shakespeare Proposal
 
(4)	Date: 	Thu, 19 Sep 1991 10:05:00 -0400
	From: 	DORENKAMP@HLYCROSS.BITNET
	Subj: 	Public Domain Shakespeare Project
 
(5)	From: 	Ken Steele <
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	Subj: 	Public Domain Shakespeare Project
	Date: 	Fri, 20 Sep 91 8:32:39 EDT
	
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		18 September 91, 21:48:15 EST
From: 		C. Stuart Hunter <
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Subject: 	Shakespeare's narrative poems
 
Ken;
 
I'd be interested in transcribing the narrative poems, if that's
something that the Shakespeare folk would be interested in.  Let me
know.
 
Stuart
 
	[I'm certainly interested in the complete works, in the
	original forms.  I suspect that others share my interest in
	the narrative poems, sonnets, and plays.  -- k.s.]
 
(2)---------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date:         	Thu, 19 Sep 91 12:49:20 EST
From: 		"Lee A. Jacobus" <
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Subject: 2.0216  Public Domain Texts: A Proposal
Comment:      	Re: SHK 2.0216  Public Domain Texts: A Proposal
 
I hesitate to volunteer for anything these days.  But I agree with you
that a project to keyboard the plays in several forms is probably excellent.
I will be glad to take part.  When you decide on key factors--the play, the
encoding, the amount of work--let me know.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Thu, 19 Sep 91 13:25:27 CDT
From: 		Richard A. Gale <
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Subject: 	Re: Public Domain Shakespeare Proposal
 
Having been away from my computer for the last few days I probably
ignorant of a great deal of information concerning the on-line access
of Shakespeare texts.  I am writing to express my confusion.  The
NeXT that I am working on has as one of its library functions the
entire canon in rich text format.  I am uncertain as to the
copyright encumberances of electronic medium but if NeXt has
completed the project others must surely have done the same.  I am
enclosing a copy of the copyright page for clarification of edition.
If more information is available or required I will help all I can.
 
r.g.
 
	[The copyright page Richard Gale enclosed was, as I have been
	told, the Oxford Modern-Spelling edition of the Complete
	Works, edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.  This edition
	is under copyright, but is available from Oxford University
	Press Electronic Publishing.  NeXT arranged licensing for it
	to be bundled with their hardware, but it is most definitely
	not a public domain text, and copying is prohibitied.  -- k.s.]
 
(4)-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Date: 		Thu, 19 Sep 1991 10:05:00 -0400
From: 		DORENKAMP@HLYCROSS.BITNET
Subject: 	Public Domain Shakespeare Project
 
By all means let's proceed with the project, but may I suggest that we
start at the simplest level. (I know, of course, nothing is ever simple
and that my suggestion is fraught with difficulties.) Can we begin with
an unmarked-up ASCII text?
 
Perhaps at that level, we can decide upon basic guidelines for text entry
that will not clash with other guidelines.  Not all of us will use the
texts in the same way.  For some, TACT mark-ups will be desireable, while
for others, a different system may be useful.  The TEI guidelines are still
under development and will, I hope, become a standard; but for some (and
for now) relatively complex text searching and retrieval can be done with
the more powerful wordprocessing software.  A collection of ASCII texts
can always be modified at a later date.  It seems to me that it is easier
to *add* mark-up than to add and change it.
 
The question of what texts do we use still remains.  Shakespeare on Disk
already provides an ASCII text from the Bullen Stratford [Town] Edition.
Are there others we could use?  What is the copyright status of a text?
Can the text itself of a Shakespearean play be copyrighted or only the
critical and textual apparatus?  Can we, for example, keyboard the
Riverside, the Pelican, the Arden texts as long as we stick to the text
itself?
 
Certainly we need the Quartos and Folios, but is that our first priority?
As I said, my suggestion is fraught with questions and difficulties, but
perhaps we should begin with the simple and proceed to the more complex
rather than begin with the elaborate only to discover we have done something
we wish we hadn't and cannot undo.  (I can't believe I wrote that last
sentence.) It's something to think about.
 
At any rate, count me in.
 
(5)--------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
From: 		Ken Steele <
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Subject: 	Public Domain Shakespeare Project
Date: 		Fri, 20 Sep 91 8:32:39 EDT
 
I'm glad to see so many volunteers to keyboard Shakespeare.  It seems
clear that we'll have the necessary number of typing fingers to
accomplish a great deal; the next question we must address ourselves
to, of course, is "a great deal of what?"
 
In looking at the two public domain texts we now have on the server,
Hardy Cook's *Sonnets* and Tom Horton's *Henry VIII*, I must confess
that the former is more attractive, although the latter is more
sophisticated and more useful from a computer's perspective.  Hardy
Cook's approach is tempting both for its simplicity and
because I remember what coding and editing *Hamlet* was like for TACT
-- months of proofreading, still to find many errors remaining *in the
coding*, not in the text itself.  In short, I am inclined to agree
with John Dorenkamp, that we should aim for simplicity in what we're
attempting, for the sake of hardware and software independence, and to
avoid the severe liability to error which multiple levels of tagging
complicate.  (Although there are no errors in Tom Horton's H8, he has
indicated to me that popular demand has him producing an UNtagged
version as well).
 
As John Dorenkamp points out, everyone will have their own
requirements for tagging (for instance, I'd like to tag every
occurrence of anaphora and epistrophe) and they will seldom be
compatible.  In fact, if we seek to keep a single line of text on a
single line, we can't include everything I tagged for TACT in
*Hamlet*, either.  My vote for simplicity, then.
 
The other major point we should establish is *why* we're encoding text
files, and hence which copytexts we want.  SHAKSPER's Fileserver and
logbooks are filled with information about available electronic texts,
from WordCruncher, Oxford Electronic Publishing, the Oxford Text
Archive, and Shakespeare-on-Disk.  All of these are available for less
than $400 each to determined scholars or theatre professionals, and
are reasonably accurate.  My concern is that they are all either
copyrighted, encrypted, or contractually limited.
 
WordCruncher, as I've said before, encrypts their textbases and declares
reverse-engineering them illegal, although there is no other way to
correct the texts' errors, and ETC has been singularly unresponsive to
my questions about upgrades (or my lists of errors, for that matter).
Oxford Electronic Publishing adds their own copyright to that of
Oxford University Press on the Modern-Spelling edition, which is
available with the NeXT and for IBM machines.  The Oxford Text Archive
requires every order to be accompanied by a signed declaration
severely limiting the ability to make back-up copies or to distribute
most of their texts in any form.  If Dartmouth had to purchase a site
license for the Shakespeare-on-Disk version, doubtless similar
limitations are placed on that text.
 
In short, then, there are no versions of Shakespeare's text which you
can copy freely, distribute to your classes (or classmates), or print
scripts for your cast (to my knowledge).  What I would genuinely like
to see, then, is a "Public Domain Shakespeare", with no copyright or
contractual strings attached, available readily on diskette at
conferences, via Internet and Bitnet, and both to and from your colleagues.
 
I've been thinking a great deal about the sorts of limitations we
might put on these texts, such as the "CopyLeft" declaration, or a
contract such as Tom Horton's to ensure that no-one can legally use
the texts for commercial purposes.  But I wonder whether simplicity is
not perhaps the better route here too: how could a publisher, or
anyone else, profit from attempting to distribute texts which were
already available everywhere for free?  Isn't it enough to put a
statement on these Public Domain texts that they *are* in the public
domain, that there are *no* restrictions placed on their use, and of
course some acknowledgement of the generous souls who keypunched it?
 
Maybe this is naive, but a cynic could also agree that, no matter what
limitations we put on the texts, we couldn't prosecute a large
publishing house if they wanted to use them to speed up entry of an
edition anyway.  The legal costs of demonstrating their infringement
(of a non-copyright!) would be prohibitive.  And, furthermore,
mightn't the occasion arise when each of us might benefit from the
ability to use these texts in any way we liked -- for a parallel text
edition, or as the basis for a modern edition, of whatever?
 
I invite further comments.  So far we have overloaded only one
SHAKSPERean's mailbox...  :-)
 
					Ken Steele
					University of Toronto
 

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