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reselling a translation
Thread poster: davidgreen

davidgreen
German to English
Dec 1, 2003

I'm wondering about the legality/ethics (the profitability factor is interesting for all of us!) of taking a large (and quite technical) translation that I did for one client and reselling it to other companies. The translation agency who initially gave me the job told me to "go for it" and I'm sure the company responsible for creating the original documents will be happy I'm helping them to sell their product. Any input from you all would be helpful. thanks.

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Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:19
Member (2002)
German to English
Think hard, and get everything in writing... Dec 1, 2003

Dear David,

From an ethical viewpoint I would advise against your idea - translators should beware any temptation to use privileged information that passes through our hands, especially for personal profit.

Also it's quite possible that you do not legally own your translation any more, depending on the agreement you had with the agency and the agreement they had with the end-client.

With a 'work-for-hire' type arrangement, ownership passes to the client upon payment. So the company that originally paid for the translation work to be done is normally the copyright owner, and far from not minding they could be quite averse to letting you profit from their investment.

However if you get the agency's agreement (in writing) to approach the client with your proposal, and the client is willing to come to some arrangement (also in writing), that would be a different matter...

All the best, Deborah


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Agnieszka Hayward
Poland
Local time: 23:19
German to Polish
+ ...
I fully agree with Deborah Dec 1, 2003

You need everything agreed in writing and signed. Otherwise, you might just as well get prepared for nasty surprises, if the client or agency change their minds, because the outcome of the 're-selling' is different from their expectations. I'd be very careful.
Best of luck
Agnieszka


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:49
English to Tamil
+ ...
Consider this scenareo Dec 2, 2003

Client A approached to translate a paper for him. I did the translation, got paid and that's it. After a few days client B sent me the same paper for translation.

Fact was, it was an Algerian call for global tenders and two potential contractors got hold of the same and approached me independently. I didn't flinch. After all the paper was a tender document obtained in a legal manner by both the clients and fortunately (for me of course), they approached me. I just mailed the translation to the second client as well and got paid by him also. I do not see anything wrong in this.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:19
Member (2002)
German to English
What else could you have done? Dec 2, 2003

I quite agree, there's nothing wrong with that. It was obviously your lucky day!

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
fortunately (for me of course), they approached me. I just mailed the translation to the second client as well and got paid by him also. I do not see anything wrong in this.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


In that situation, by fulfilling each client's request without divulging any information to either competitor you did the right thing.

But you did not take it upon yourself to exploit the lucrative opportunity by touting the text around other companies. That's the reselling I'm opposed to.

Here's another scenario: occasionally two branches of the same company send the same text for translation, or one member of staff sends a text which I translated last year for a different member of staff.

What do you do about that?


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JackieMcC
Local time: 23:19
French to English
honesty pays Dec 2, 2003

Hi,
the situation you describe has happened to me on several occasions:


Here's another scenario: occasionally two branches of the same company send the same text for translation, or one member of staff sends a text which I translated last year for a different member of staff.

What do you do about that?

[/quote]

I would definitely say honesty is the best policy if you want to keep your client. Tell them and send the original translation on again, or charge a minimum fee for your time if it took some hunting down. Otherwise, it is quite likely that at some point in the future someone will realise that you were paid twice for the same job and very probably will never use you again!
Jackie


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:19
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Inform the customer Dec 2, 2003

Deborah and Jackie are right. If two employees of the same company ask for the same text to be translated then you should inform them of such. It has happened to me (actually it was the SAME employee who asked for the same translation twice). I called him up and said that what I was about to tell him would save him some money. He was appreciative and continues to send me work on a regular basis. If I had taken my money and run I would have lost good will, which is worth its weight in gold.

Ed


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Richard Benham  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:19
German to English
+ ...
Tender documents...and what else? Dec 13, 2004

I am not sure of the scenario in David's original posting. If it's like Narasimhan's story, I would say that not only are you entitled to "resell" the translation, you are in a sense under an ethical obligation to refrain from disclosing the fact that you have translated this document before.

Just knowing that another company is tendering for a contract could give the second client an unfair commercial advantage. It may even be possible for them to work out who the other tenderer is (e.g. if there are relatively few companies in the field, and only one other would be interested in your target language, say). So I would accept the job, wait a reasonable time (as long as it took you to do the original translation, say) and then send them the translation along with an invoice at your usual rate.

It is difficult to imagine other circumstances where this question could arise. But in general, if you are asked to translate the same source document by two clients, you are lucky, and should keep your mouth shut and charge full rates, both for your own good and to protect client confidentiality. If it's two branches of the same company, or something like that, it's a totally different story. You are technically within your rights to exploit the situation, but it is neither ethically nor commercially desirable, as others have pointed out.


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