OCR and cursive manuscripts

A friend recently brought to my attention a manuscript that had been neatly hand-copied from an illegible original autograph. It is a fairly lengthy piece as it sits -- over 70 handwritten pp. -- and he had a question about self-publishing it for personal use (only three or four copies for demand within his family).

 

I advised him that his choices were to publish it as a picture book -- that is, to scan the pages as photos, and let the reader see the cursive -- or else to re-type the entire ms. from scratch. He was hoping that some sort of scanning software would help with this.

 

I do not believe that it is possible to scan cursive writing. Given how badly OCR software sometimes mangles even nicely printed text, I can't see it working for cursive at all.

 

Does anyone know of an OCR capable of reading cursive?

Comments

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher

    The simplest solution is to type the manuscript as a computer file. At the rate of 5 pages a session, per day,  it is a matter of 14 days. First print it on your own printer to check it, then have copies printed by Lulu to get a bound booklet.

    If this document contains important data, don't forget to add an index.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Bibliophile

    Has your friend gotten permission from whoever wrote the original text to do any of this? Personal copy or not, he should do this unless the original is old enough to be in the public domain.

  • Copyright issues aside - Since the original is only 70 pages, it would be quite interesting to have both a scanned copy of the original juxtaposed with the typed version - perhaps on facing pages. That could be a bit of a formatting exercise, but it would also be a great way to preserve the original while also providing an easily readable version.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Bibliophile

    Glenn_Lulu wrote:

    Copyright issues aside - Since the original is only 70 pages, it would be quite interesting to have both a scanned copy of the original juxtaposed with the typed version - perhaps on facing pages. That could be a bit of a formatting exercise, but it would also be a great way to preserve the original while also providing an easily readable version.


    That's a great idea. Sort of like what was done with da Vinci's notebooks.

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher

    It all depends on whether the handcopy of the hardly legible original is an old document or a recent one. In the latter case, it has no great value. I suppose Glenn's suggestion concerns the hard-to-read original, not the neat recent pen copy. If such is the case, his would be the best solution.

    There can be no copyright problem since this is for private usage. On the other hand, if the document is important, you should make your edition a public commercial one.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Bibliophile

    potetjp wrote:

    There can be no copyright problem since this is for private usage. On the other hand, if the document is important, you should make your edition a public commercial one.


    I am afraid that is absolutely not true...certainly not so in the US. Copyright means just that. The right to copy a work belongs solely to the creator of the work. It makes not the slightest difference whether that copying is done for commercial purposes (including private usage) or not. The right to authorize copying for any reason---commercial or otherwise---belongs to the author. For instance, would it be all right to make a copy of someone's recently published novel if you keep the copy strictly to yourself? Of course not.

     

    I get the impression that the work in question is old. But if not, it would really be best to make sure that it is OK before any kind of copies are made.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian

    It is a war diary from WW1, and both the original author and the author's heirs have since passed. Well over 75 years have passed since it was written, and there was never any original claim of copyright. Also, the person is acting with the implicit permission of the heirs of the heirs, who gave him the ms. for his own reference and enjoyment; he is hoping to bind it as a return gift to the heirs of the heirs.

     

    This would be a private publication only.


    Ron Miller wrote:

    Has your friend gotten permission from whoever wrote the original text to do any of this? Personal copy or not, he should do this unless the original is old enough to be in the public domain.


     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian

    That would be fascinating, but the illegible original has been lost. The present ms. is the transcriber's neater handwriting.


    Glenn_Lulu wrote:

    Copyright issues aside - Since the original is only 70 pages, it would be quite interesting to have both a scanned copy of the original juxtaposed with the typed version - perhaps on facing pages. That could be a bit of a formatting exercise, but it would also be a great way to preserve the original while also providing an easily readable version.


     

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian

    Ron Miller wrote:

    potetjp wrote:

    There can be no copyright problem since this is for private usage. On the other hand, if the document is important, you should make your edition a public commercial one.


    I am afraid that is absolutely not true...certainly not so in the US. Copyright means just that. The right to copy a work belongs solely to the creator of the work. It makes not the slightest difference whether that copying is done for commercial purposes (including private usage) or not. The right to authorize copying for any reason---commercial or otherwise---belongs to the author. For instance, would it be all right to make a copy of someone's recently published novel if you keep the copy strictly to yourself? Of course not.

     

    I get the impression that the work in question is old. But if not, it would really be best to make sure that it is OK before any kind of copies are made.


    Not to be pedantic, but there are (or were) a couple of loopholes under the "fair use" clause. For example, one may make one backup copy of digital works, so long as the backup is solely to protect the original from damage during usage. This issue arose when CDs were first produced, as a question of what precisely the end user was paying for. It extended as well into software.

     

    That idea, and shoring up the rights of the creator in order to close the loophole, is the basis for the EULA (End User License Agreements) offered by most software manufacturers -- the end user does not actually own the software, but merely purchases a license to use it. You may also recall a time when software was distributed in sealed envelopes: To break the seal was to accept the EULA. Those were also and attempt to clarify the "fair Use" exemptions.

     

    This does not pertain to the matter at hand, of course, but since we were talking about the law...

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher

    Skoob_Ym a écrit :

    It is a war diary from WW1, [...]


     

     Definitely, you should make a public edition with an index.

    I myself, last year,  published my paternal grand-parents' correspondence during WWI.

    http://www.lulu.com/shop/jean-paul-g-potet/paul-berthe-correspondance-1914-1918/hardcover/product-21673164.html

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher

    Ron Miller a écrit :

     The right to copy a work belongs solely to the creator of the work. It makes not the slightest difference whether that copying is done for commercial purposes (including private usage) or not.
    Be it as it may, I doubt any US court of justice would fine an individual for copying a book or a picture or a musical score for their private usage, otherwise any kid drawing a picture of Mickey Mouse, Batman, you name them, would have their parents arraigned in front of a judge.

     

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Bibliophile

    Skoob_Ym wrote:

    Ron Miller wrote:

    potetjp wrote:

    There can be no copyright problem since this is for private usage. On the other hand, if the document is important, you should make your edition a public commercial one.


    I am afraid that is absolutely not true...certainly not so in the US. Copyright means just that. The right to copy a work belongs solely to the creator of the work. It makes not the slightest difference whether that copying is done for commercial purposes (including private usage) or not. The right to authorize copying for any reason---commercial or otherwise---belongs to the author. For instance, would it be all right to make a copy of someone's recently published novel if you keep the copy strictly to yourself? Of course not.

     

    I get the impression that the work in question is old. But if not, it would really be best to make sure that it is OK before any kind of copies are made.


    Not to be pedantic, but there are (or were) a couple of loopholes under the "fair use" clause. For example, one may make one backup copy of digital works, so long as the backup is solely to protect the original from damage during usage. This issue arose when CDs were first produced, as a question of what precisely the end user was paying for. It extended as well into software.

     

    That idea, and shoring up the rights of the creator in order to close the loophole, is the basis for the EULA (End User License Agreements) offered by most software manufacturers -- the end user does not actually own the software, but merely purchases a license to use it. You may also recall a time when software was distributed in sealed envelopes: To break the seal was to accept the EULA. Those were also and attempt to clarify the "fair Use" exemptions.

     

    This does not pertain to the matter at hand, of course, but since we were talking about the law...


    What you say is absolutely true regarding digital works, but I assumed we were talking about a print book.

     

     

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Bibliophile

    potetjp wrote:

    Ron Miller a écrit :

     The right to copy a work belongs solely to the creator of the work. It makes not the slightest difference whether that copying is done for commercial purposes (including private usage) or not.
    Be it as it may, I doubt any US court of justice would fine an individual for copying a book or a picture or a musical score for their private usage, otherwise any kid drawing a picture of Mickey Mouse, Batman, you name them, would have their parents arraigned in front of a judge.

     


    That's kind of a far-fetched analogy. A much better one would be the one I made earlier, where someone takes a book to a Xerox machine and runs off a couple of copies of it. The orginal poster to this thread was not suggesting making an archival copy of a manuscript, but rather transcribing the handwritten text and making a print edition of it (albeit a small one). In other words, he is publishing it.

     

    Not only making a copy but making several copies of a book without express permission of the author is not permissible. If nothing else, it is simply rude to not do this. (And the USCO strongly recommends getting permission before even using so much as quote from a book, let alone copying the entire thing.) And yes, if an author made an issue of it a court would have little recourse but to fine the offender. However, what would more likely happen is that the judge would arbitrate an agreement rather than see something go to trial. This is what occurred when I (along with several other artists) had to sue a publisher for using art without permission. A simple request would have cost them a few dollars in reproduction fees, but they dug their heels in and refused to deal with our complaints. As it turned out, the judge oversaw an agreement between everyone, but the whole thing ultimately cost the defendent about ten times as much as they would have paid if they'd done the right thing in the first place.

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher

    Ron Miller, Skoob_Ym's project is the edition of a WWI private testimony with the agreement of the author's family. I hope this document will be made public because it belongs to history however modest it may be  I just don't see how it could ever be an infringement on anybody's copyright. Conversely,  Skoob_Ym, as the editor, will be the owner of the copyrights on this book., a legitimate reward for the job he is undertaking.

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher

    Ron Miller a écrit :
     This is what occurred when I (along with several other artists) had to sue a publisher for using art without permission. A simple request would have cost them a few dollars in reproduction fees, but they dug their heels in and refused to deal with our complaints. As it turned out, the judge oversaw an agreement between everyone, but the whole thing ultimately cost the defendent about ten times as much as they would have paid if they'd done the right thing in the first place.

    Of course you were right to sue them because they had stolen your creation. And it's a good thing you won.

     

  • Skoob_Ym's can indeed copyright a book he has created, but that does not mean material copyrighted by other people can be used in it, unless permission is asked and the source thanked and referenced. In this case I would assume he has both considering what it is.

     

    PS: I just tried to OCR scan the address on a hand-written envelope. No chance!

    How Do
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian

    Ron Miller wrote:

    Skoob_Ym wrote:

    Ron Miller wrote:

    potetjp wrote:

    There can be no copyright problem since this is for private usage. On the other hand, if the document is important, you should make your edition a public commercial one.


    I am afraid that is absolutely not true...certainly not so in the US. Copyright means just that. The right to copy a work belongs solely to the creator of the work. It makes not the slightest difference whether that copying is done for commercial purposes (including private usage) or not. The right to authorize copying for any reason---commercial or otherwise---belongs to the author. For instance, would it be all right to make a copy of someone's recently published novel if you keep the copy strictly to yourself? Of course not.

     

    I get the impression that the work in question is old. But if not, it would really be best to make sure that it is OK before any kind of copies are made.


    Not to be pedantic, but there are (or were) a couple of loopholes under the "fair use" clause. For example, one may make one backup copy of digital works, so long as the backup is solely to protect the original from damage during usage. This issue arose when CDs were first produced, as a question of what precisely the end user was paying for. It extended as well into software.

     

    That idea, and shoring up the rights of the creator in order to close the loophole, is the basis for the EULA (End User License Agreements) offered by most software manufacturers -- the end user does not actually own the software, but merely purchases a license to use it. You may also recall a time when software was distributed in sealed envelopes: To break the seal was to accept the EULA. Those were also and attempt to clarify the "fair Use" exemptions.

     

    This does not pertain to the matter at hand, of course, but since we were talking about the law...


    What you say is absolutely true regarding digital works, but I assumed we were talking about a print book.

     

     


    We are, but I'm always one for details. And there are fair use exceptions with print as well. For example, suppose I bought a book of clip-art.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian

    potetjp wrote:

    Ron Miller, Skoob_Ym's project is the edition of a WWI private testimony with the agreement of the author's family. I hope this document will be made public because it belongs to history however modest it may be  I just don't see how it could ever be an infringement on anybody's copyright. Conversely,  Skoob_Ym, as the editor, will be the owner of the copyrights on this book., a legitimate reward for the job he is undertaking.


    You are correct -- the original writer's heirs are two sisters who would be fully cooperative in the undertaking. It would be a friend who would be the editor, and the diary would be for personal use for now, but they might be cooperative with publishing it to the world.

     

    I have also discovered that I was mis-informed; the original autograph was later typed, so it should scan nicely with an OCR.

  • potetjppotetjp Publisher
    Great! Publish it.
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