This contradicts the UK Intellectual Property Office’s own advice:
according to the Court of Justice of the European Union which has effect in UK law, copyright can only subsist in subject matter that is original in the sense that it is the author’s own ‘intellectual creation’. Given this criteria, it seems unlikely that what is merely a retouched, digitised image of an older work can be considered as ‘original’.
c-notice-201401.pdf (96.6 KB)
This is a legal doctrine called “sweat of the brow”. It’s rejected in most jurisdictions, including the UK. A copyright comes into effect when there is the expression of a creative work. A selfie is copyright; the numbers in a phone book aren’t.
Having said which, some version of sweat of the brow has in the past been accepted in the UK, but only as applied to works under copyright. However as currently interpreted even this is probably rejected. You can never be 100% sure without a court case, but it’s extremely unlikely that any original Buddhist texts are protected by copyright laws.
It’s a bit of a moot point, however, since all or virtually all of the PTS’s original texts have in fact been released. It’s only the more recent translations that are under copyright.
In this case it is talking about adaptations, not simple republishing. This would apply to translations of the suttas, not to editions of the original text.