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Thread poster: Steffen Pollex
Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
English to German
+ ...
Nov 6, 2002

Hello, everyone!

Today I was about to register with a new agency via the net. I can accept all their conditions, except for one I am in doubt about:

\"I will cede all authorship rights for the translations which I have completed on assignment to the Agency.\"

Isn\'t it that the autorship for the translation will remain mine anyway? Why should I cede it to the agency? Did any of you subscribe to similar clauses and would this be common?



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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:15
Dutch to English
+ ...
copyright Nov 6, 2002

I think it should be on payment of the assignment and not the actual assignment of the job. As far as I am aware the copyright on a translation is yours until it has been paid for.

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Oleg Prots  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:15
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
I have registered with that agency a couple of days ago Nov 6, 2002

I have not yet heard back from them, not even the simple automated \"Your application has been accepted\" stuff, but that doesn\'t matter much.

I do not think there\'s such a great problem with authorship rights unless you really translate books. When I do usual assignments for other agencies, I understand that it\'s them who take the final responsibility for the job.

That\'s how I see it.

All the best,


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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
economic vs. moral rights Nov 6, 2002

Hi Steffen,

You can sell your copyright (=economic rights), but then I would agree with Marijke and insist that this does not happen until you have been paid.

For the distinction between your economic and moral rights (which cannot be transferred) see for instance:

31. Translations and adaptations are works protected by copyright. Therefore, in order to reproduce and publish a translation or adaptation, authorization must be obtained from both the owner of the copyright in the original work and of the owner of copyright in the translation or adaptation.

32. In recent years, the scope of the right of adaptation has been the subject of discussion, because of the increased poss ibilities for adapting and transforming works which are embodied in digital format. With digital technology, manipulation of text, sound and images by the user is quick and easy; discussions have focused on the appropriate balance between the rights of t he author to control the integrity of the work by authorizing modifications, on the one hand, and the rights of users to make changes which seem to be part of a normal use of works in digital format, on the other hand.

d.Moral rights

33. The Berne Convention requires Member countries to grant to authors: (i) the right to claim authorship of the work (sometimes called the right of \"paternity\"); and (ii) the right to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to, the work which would be prejudicial to the author\'s honor or reputation (sometimes called the right of \"integrity\"). These rights, which are generally known as the moral rights of authors, are required to be independent of the economic rights and to remain with the author even after he has transferred his economic rights. It is worth noting that moral rights are only accorded to human authors; even if someone else is the owner of economic rights in a work (for example, a film producer or a publisher), only the individual creator has moral interests at stake. pdf/basic_notions.pdf

The passage below regards illustrations, but the mechanism is similar:

You can effectively sell your copyright, which means that you have no further right of reproduction in your work. This is known as an assignment but will only be effective if you put it in writing.

If your illustration is reproduced without your permission, you are entitled to damages; perhaps an injunction to stop the infringement and on occasion the infringing copies delivered to you.

Your copyright in your illustration is an economic right. It is different from ownership of the illustration itself. You may still grant a licence or give an assignment of copyright in your illustration whilst owning the original piece. Likewise, you may sell the original illustration without giving permission for it to be reproduced.


These are rights in addition to your economic right of copyright and your right of owning your illustration.

You have a right to be identified as author of your illustration. This right must be asserted in writing and should be included on any copyright, assignment or licence to reproduce or other written contract.

You have a right to object to derogatory treatment of your illustration. This means you have a right to object if your illustration has been adapted, altered, added to or deleted from. You may be able to rely on this right if you are unhappy about the colour reproduction of your illustration or, if perhaps, it has been cropped in a way which distorts it.

You have a right not to be falsely attributed to another person\'s art.

It is not possible to pass on your moral rights by way of assignment or licence but they can be waived, ie. given up. Check any written contract carefully to ensure that your client is not asking you to waive your moral rights.

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mckinnc  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:15
French to English
+ ...
Doesn't surprise me too much Nov 6, 2002

Even as a technical writer, where I was the original author, the outsourced operation I worked through was required to surrender all rights to text we produced. The same was true for graphic artists creating 3D models and images.

As translators, we are not the original authors even and often have an intermediary between us and the client. Under the circumstances, I wouldn\'t expect to own the rights to what I write.

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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
More background Nov 6, 2002

International copyright conventions have adopted the principle that a translator who translates a work with the consent of its author enjoys the same rights over his translation as does the author over the original work.

In practice, however, this recognition of the rights of the translators is not always effective.

Accordingly, and in order to strengthen the practical defence of the interests of translators in respect of their translations, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted this Recommendation.

The main purpose of this Recommendation is to provide a non-limitative list of measures to ensure the application in practice of protection afforded translators under international conventions and in national laws relating to copyright.

Full text:

The Universal Copyright Convention (UCC), the second international convention, occurred in Geneva in 1952, under the patronage of the UNESCO. Rather than joining the Berne Convention, the United States lobbied for UCC, and joined it in 1955. The UCC contract provides the same copyright for domestic and foreign created works in all countries, regardless of where the work was first published. It protects also translation rights up to seven years.

The Austrian Supreme Court recently published a final ruling in a copyright case that had gone on since 1999. According to this decision, it is unlawful to quote from literary translations without naming the AUTHOR of that translation, i.e. the translator.

For the time being, this ruling is of course of purely national value for our profession in Austria, since copyright law is different in every country. (And for what it\'s worth, the text of the decision -- which can be obtained by fax through our office -- makes explicit mention of the relevant German law under which the case would have had a different outcome.)

Although the Paris Revision (1971) of the Berne Convention recognized translations as original works and acknowledged that they should be \"protected as original works without prejudice to the copyright in the original work,\" it failed to discriminate between the two senses of the term \"original,\" author\'s original and translator\'s original. It grants translators \"authorial\" protection in principle, but denies them a much needed degree of autonomy by placing their work under the control of an author who has the \"exclusive right of making and of authorizing the translation.\" In the matter of translation what the principle of moral rights gives with one hand, it takes away with the other.

The translator is, in the Translation Committee\'s view, a unique link between the original work and its audience in another language, whose status as a collaborator with the original author should be recognized by both the publisher and the book\'s readers. One of the principal ways in which this recognition can be gained is by according translation the full status of a literary endeavor, and this recognition should begin with the agreement made between the translator and publisher.

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Jacek Krankowski  Identity Verified
English to Polish
+ ...
More background Nov 6, 2002

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-11-06 14:21 ]

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ttagir  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:15
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
A small suggestion Nov 6, 2002

Dear Stephan:

1. Agency gives you job and should pay for it. -> You take their source and translate. -> This results in two questions: a) do you have in that contract a clause which states that agency is solely responsible for violation of copyrights for the texts they send you? If such a clause or a similar statement is absent, anybody can then accuse you of illegal use of product protected by third party rights b) do they have any promise of payment for jobs offered namely to you? If there is no such a promise, then they (equipped with the sentence cited by you) might even not pay you, since after sending them your translation you disclose it (and make it public with respect to them since you have lost your copyright by signing the contract).

2. If you proceed with sending them your result and therewith you lose you copyright, then it will be difficult (if not simply impossible) to prove anything after such a clause has been signed by you.

3. Therefore the unique way to protect yourselves (and ourselves ) is to ask them to place the next clause:

\"I will cede all authorship rights for the translations which I have completed on assignment to the Agency as soon as and no later than I will have been paid for such a translation by the Agency in accordance with the terms and conditions of payments (stated in clause XX).\"

4. One thing which I did not meet in the discussion: the agency might need to use your translation for posterior processing, editing, and even usage of your result as a material for further DTP and publishing in the whole. Therefore, they cannot start to use it if they remain suspended with their right to your text. However, if the payment systems works well, then you may agree to this terms as soon as other clauses provide your rights to receive payment.

5. If you do not agree with their clause, or if their clause is not clear to you, then simply reject the contract. This way is unique for protecting yourselves from strange situations



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