Seeking Proofreaders for Old LoARs

Folks — I’d love some help with a round of proof-reading for some old LoARs which I’ve transcribed for addition to the Laurel website.

There are a handful of letters from the 1970s which were scanned decades ago, but never got transformed into webpages. I’ve created new pages for them, but before they go live they could really benefit from a fresh set of eyes to spot any errors that may have crept in during transcription. The new pages were created via a mix of OCR and hand-typing, with manually-applied web markup, and almost certainly contain some errors.

Specifically, it is the Jan 1971, Apr 30 1973, Jul 1974, May 1975, Oct 29 1976, and Nov 1978 letters shown on this page, which are in need of this round of proof-reading. (The Dec 1970, July 1986, and Nov 1988 letters were already reviewed during a previous round of work, back in 2021 and have been successfully uploaded to the SCA Heraldry site.)

The Apr 30 1973 and Oct 29 1976 letters are both cases where Laurel issued two letters in the same calendar month — the first of which is already available on the SCA Heraldry site. Only the new second letter in each of those months requires review.

If you click on any of those, you’ll find paired links to the HTML version and a PDF file of the old scans.

It would be super helpful if each of those letters could be reviewed by one or two people, with the new page open in one window and the scans in another (or printed onto paper), and if you could send me any errors you find.

I’m interested in both large-scale errors and tiny details. Please pay special attention to the spelling of names, including the accent marks that are hand-written onto some of the old typewritten letters.

In a later round we’ll be comparing these letters to the O&A database, so I’d like these letters to match the original paper letters as closely as possible so we don’t introduce any new problems during reconciliation.

Thanks!

[Update, Jan 14:] I’ve updated the letters for 1971, ’73, ’74, ’75, and ’78 based on a first round of review; a second pass would be welcome (especially for 1974), although I’m hoping we’re pretty close at this point. The 1976 letter is untouched and still needs a close read.

[Update, Jan 16:] All letters have been proofed at least once — thanks to everyone who jumped in to help!

Who Owns the Copyright to the LoARs?

A couple of days ago, I was working on getting some old LoARs ready for publication online when I stopped to consider who held the copyrights to them.

[As with all of the legal commentary on this site, the below should be read with the knowledge that I am not a lawyer, and none of this should be taken as legal guidance — I’m just attempting to describe a somewhat-obscure issue as best I understand it.]

Because the letters were created by volunteers rather than employees, they are not “work for hire,” and I don’t think any past Sovereigns have been asked to sign agreements on the subject.

That would suggest that the copyrights to the LoARs remained with their original creators — the Sovereigns and their staff.

Breaking up is hard to do, and the split at the heart of this case was no exception. … Mr. Losieniecki agreed to serve … and participated in that event as an “official volunteer.” This, they argue, means the photographs are “works made for hire” under the Copyright Act… On that issue, the answer is clear… the Court finds that Mr. Losieniecki owns the photographs at issue […] “work made for hire” […] applies only to works produced by employees or, if a written contract exists, independent contractors. An unpaid volunteer for a nonprofit organization is neither.

— Judge Ranjan in Hubay v. Mendez, 2020

However, at least since 1997 or so, when the Sovereigns have caused the LoAR to be published online every month, it has appeared with a statement and link at the bottom of the page along the lines of “Copyright © 1997 Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.”

It seems credible that if a volunteer publishes something they wrote and causes it to include a statement that the organization is the copyright holder, that in and of itself might be sufficient to transfer the copyright.

The writing does not require any “magic words . . . Rather, the parties’ intent as evidenced by the writing must demonstrate a transfer of the copyright.” …. “Section 204(a), by its terms, imposes only the requirement that a copyright transfer be in writing and signed by the parties from whom the copyright is transferred…”

— Judge Huff, Johnson v. Storix, 2017

On these grounds, the existence of the letters, signed and authored by the Sovereigns, and posted with a statement of copyright by the SCA, seems evidence of the intention to grant copyright to the Society.

(This argument is weakened by the fact that the copyright statements were applied by the Morsulus Herald or post-meeting clerk at the time that the files were uploaded to the web, rather than written by the Laurels themselves, but given that Morsulus and Silver  Staple are working under the direction of Laurel, and that each Laurel sees these copyright statements many times and none of them have ever said “oh, no, wait, that’s a mistake, I didn’t intend to transfer the copyright to the letters I wrote,” this still seems like a clear indication of their intent.)

As to the letters created before 1996 or so, it’s quite possible that nobody ever considered their copyright status — I certainly haven’t been able to find any written mentions of it.

To my understanding, this likely means that the copyright to those early letters remains with the original authors, but that everyone involved understands that they have granted the SCA permission to use those letters in all of the ways that the Society typically does, including publishing, excerpting, citing, summarizing, and transforming them.

Thankfully, the people who sign up to be Sovereigns are pretty committed to the heraldic community, such that even if there was an acrimonious feud, it seems unlikely that any would try to revoke that permission. (And even if they did, some use would likely still be allowed under the “fair use” doctrine of U.S. law.)

Extraordinary Recognition

During the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium this weekend, I learned from Master Yehuda ben Moshe that, as one of his final actions as Brigantia, I had been elevated to the rank of Herald Extraordinary, a recognition for which I am deeply grateful.

Unlike nearly all of the awards and honors of the Society, this rank can not be bestowed by royalty or their representatives in the baronage; instead it stems from the authority of the Sovereigns of the College of Arms and the Principal Heralds of each kingdom.

The term “extraordinary” is used here not in the sense of “unusual,” but rather to mean “outside the typical order” — a recognition of work being done sui generis, rather than in a fixed role within the Colleges’ normal organization.

“Such a rank shall have no fixed duties, unless such shall be agreed upon by the holder and the Kingdom Principal Herald, but instead the holder of the rank shall be a senior member of the College who shall lend heraldic expertise as s/he sees fit.”
— Wilhelm Laurel, July 1981 LoAR

The rank was established over forty years ago, and is closely held; the record suggests that only a dozen Extraordinaries have been named here in the East over the last two decades, and even fewer in the two decades before that.

This recognition is especially meaningful to me in coming from Master Yehuda, because it was during his elevation to Herald Extraordinary at KWHSS in 2018 that I first came to see this title as one to which I could aspire, and the members of this rank as a group of which I could hope to one day be considered a peer.

So, my thanks to Yehuda for the recognition, and to the Heralds of the Colleges for their companionship and conviviality over the last seven years — I will endeavor to continue to be worthy of this honor in the years ahead.

Descriptions for Field Division Directions

Following the 2021 rules change, SENA A5F1b now says that that changing the direction of partition lines is considered a Substantial Change, as is the difference between divided and undivided fields.

As a result, when using the Complex Search form to do conflict checking for fielded armory, we can add a second line for the field that matches anything with a similar direction.

For example, when looking for conflicts for armory blazoned “Per fess argent and vert, [anything]”, we would typically start a complex search with a criteria line for “PFESS:pl:argent:~and vert”. I believe that in this case we can safely add a second criteria line for “PFESS|FIELD DIV.-BARRY|NO”, which will still match per-fess items with other colors, or barry items, or fieldless items, but will exclude items which have solid fields, or per-pale fields, or bendy, etc.

That search should give us:

  • the maximum score for an identical per-fess field with the same line type and tinctures;
  • one less than the maximum for any per-fess or barry field;
  • one less than the maximum for any fieldless item;
  • two less than the maximum (and thus safely ignored) for any other type of field.

I’ve only been experimenting with this technique for a few weeks, and I’m not yet confident that I’ve figured out all of the potential hitches in it, but in my tests, this seems to cut down the number of items which have to be checked by hand (at times significantly), without ever excluding from consideration any items that might actually conflict.

If you want to give it a try, here’s a list of headings you can add as a second line for the field in a complex search when conflict-checking:

  • Per Fess or Barry: PFESS|FIELD DIV.-BARRY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Pale or Paly: PPALE|FIELD DIV.-PALY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Bend or Bendy: PB|FIELD DIV.-BENDY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Bend Sinister or Bendy Sinister: PBS|FIELD DIV.-BENDY*3|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Chevron or Chevronelly: PC|FIELD DIV.-CHEVRONELLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Chevron Inverted or Chevronelly Inverted: PCI|FIELD DIV.-CHEVRONELLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Gyronny: GYRONNY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Pall: FIELD DIV.-PER PALL|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Pall Inverted: FIELD DIV.-PER PALL*7|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Saltire: PSALT|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Quarterly: QLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Checky: FIELD DIV.-CHECKY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Lozengy or Other Grid-like Tilings: FIELD DIV.-LOZENGY OR FUSILY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Party of Six, Orly, Others Not Mentioned Above: FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO

I’ve included the catch-all FIELD DIV.9OTHER type for all of these because items with that heading might also need hand-checking; for example, “party of six” is coded as FIELD DIV.9OTHER, and it’s not clear how much difference we would find between that and “checky.”

Sadly there isn’t a compact way to search for undivided fields, so if you want to add a line for those you need to mash a whole bunch of tinctures and treatments together; I think this might cover most of the relevant options, but I worry that I’ve missed a couple of salient choices:

  • For any undivided field: AR|AZ|CE|ER|ES|GU|OR|PE|PU|SA|TE|VT|FIELD TREATMENT-VAIRY|FIELD TREATMENT-POTENTY|FIELD TREATMENT-PAPELONNY|FIELD TREATMENT-PLUMMETTY|NO

If you give this a try, I’d love to know how it works out for you. I’m particularly interested in hearing of any potential traps, in which using this technique might exclude a legitimate conflict from consideration.