Sinxay: Canary in a Coal Mine?

Sinxay: Canary in a Coal Mine?

We have been very appreciative of the outstanding scholarly reviews that Sinxay has received,  including those from:

Dr. Naomi Appleton, Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions, University of Edinburgh

Jana Igunma, Henry Ginsburg Curator for Thai, Lao and Cambodian Collections, British Library

Dr. Ellison Findly, Religious Studies Department Chair, Trinity College, Hartford, CT

Dr. Eric Crystal, Vice Chair, Southeast Asia Studies, UC Berkeley, Retired

Chris Baker, Editor, Journal of the Siam Society and co-author of Khun Chang Khun Phaen

Nonetheless, there have been some who have reacted negatively to our publishing of Sinxay. Thus the canary in the coal mine analogy. We/Sinxay are the canary, and while it hasn’t been a pleasant experience, on the bright side there are others who have learned a lot from what we’ve gone through. And the canary still lives!!!!!

Regarding copyright, if anyone has any questions, please refer to what our attorney wrote below, excerpted from a C&D letter,

To establish copyright infringement, one must prove: (1) ownership of a valid copyright; and (2) copying of constituent elements of the copyrighted work that are original. (Feist Publ’ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co. (1991) 499 U.S. 340, 361.) A search of the database of the United Stated Copyright Office reveals that no one, including ( names withheld, but are on the C&D letter), holds a certificate of registration of copyright to the story of Sinxay, or any version thereof.


Furthermore, the story of Sinxay cannot be copyrighted by any of the above. To hold a copyright, a person must prove, among other things, originality of the work. Originality, as the term is used in copyright, means that the work was independently created by the author and not copied from other works. (Id. at 345.)


The story of Sinxay was not originally written by (names withheld, but are on the C&D letter). It was originally created by Pang Kham, sometime during the 16th or 17th century. Pang Kham’s descendants do not hold a copyright to the story because any such rights would have expired 70 years after Pang Kham’s death. (17 U.S.C. §§ 302–303.) The story was handed down orally for hundreds of years and copied on to palm leaf manuscripts, before one variation of the story was transcribed by Maha Sila Viravong. Thus none of the above can legally hold a copyright to the story of Sinxay, because they did not originally create it. This is the law as has been applied to everything from folk stories to songs such as “Happy Birthday”; no one “owns” them.  

We knew this when we published Sinxay, but now it’s clearly stated for all to read. It is not ambiguous, it is fact.

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