This Malleus Maleficarum

I don’t know how many people around me are aware of it, but I have a web site that houses an online edition of the Malleus Maleficarum. That’s a rather infamous book that was used to identify and prosecute witches during the Middle Ages. I noticed in 1998 that there was no online edition of this book. Hell, there really wasn’t much in the way of print editions, either. But I found one from Dover Publications. I noticed that the text itself was more than likely in the public domain, so I started transcribing the book, with the aim of putting it online. Rather some time later, with the help of Christie Rice, the book was transcribed, and it was put online at the web address that I’ve linked to above.
What am I writing about this?
Well, it’s lately begun to occur to me that there are certain people who are taking that work from Christie and I and using it to make a profit. I posted the text with a disclaimer telling people that the Malleus itself was in the public domain. I always considered the text to be community property, and so I let people know that they didn’t need to contact us in regards to using the text. But I never expected that to be interpreted to mean that people would just take the work whole and post it on their own web sites, as if they were the ones to transcribe, or sell PDF files on eBay, using the same fucking artwork that I use on the web site. And I certainly never expected people to steal my introduction.
I had already been thinking of putting together a version of the Malleus Maleficarum for us to sell on malleusmaleficarum.org, and this has pretty much clinched it. Amazon.com is making between $500-$1,000 a month from the links on the web site. But that doesn’t bother me. It was never about making money off of it. I wanted it available. Nothing more. What’s annoying me now is that I’m beginning to understand how many other people are making money from the fact that Christie and I transcribed the Malleus Maleficarum. It makes me rather ill to think about it. There’s a fuck on eBay who is selling CD-ROMs of the Malleus in PDF format, using the same artwork that I’m using on the web site, and he’s even using the introduction that I wrote for the web site to sell his CD.
I don’t know. This is a bad time to write about this. We’re about to watch a movie. I imagine I’ll be writing more about this later. All I really know is that it’s about time I put together my own version of the Malleus Maleficarum for print, and for eBooks to sell on eBay and other sources. Not that I feel any kind of ownership toward the work itself (it is in the public domain), but my introductions, web site layouts, and HTML coding are not in the public domain. I’m not really looking to sue anyone or shut anyone down. But I do feel an obligation to make it clear that these people are not affiliated with the Malleus web site, and they’re getting a free ride off of other people’s work.

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