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Do you ever sign copyright assignment?
Thread poster: Anabel Martínez

Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 3, 2008

Good evening everyone,

I have just been asked to sign a Copyright assignment and I am not sure if I should sign it. It is not a work of art of any type, so actually I would have never thought of claiming anything about it, but there's one sentence in particular of which I do not know the consequences that it might have.

Basically it states that I should indemnify my costumer "against all actions, claims, costs, damages or losses incurred for the infringement or alleged infringement of copyright in respect of the translations or original work supplied".

Does it simply mean I would not be able to use such texts as samples, which I already cannot do due to NDA agreement, or is it something else besides this?

Thanks in advance for your invaluable help!

Anabel


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:54
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Caution Mar 3, 2008

Anabel Martínez wrote:

Good evening everyone,

I have just been asked to sign a Copyright assignment and I am not sure if I should sign it. It is not a work of art of any type, so actually I would have never thought of claiming anything about it, but there's one sentence in particular of which I do not know the consequences that it might have.

Basically it states that I should indemnify my customer "against all actions, claims, costs, damages or losses incurred for the infringement or alleged infringement of copyright in respect of the translations or original work supplied".

Does it simply mean I would not be able to use such texts as samples, which I already cannot do due to NDA agreement, or is it something else besides this?

Thanks in advance for your invaluable help!

Anabel


I am not a lawyer, and you may wish to consult one. But as written, I believe you are being asked to indemnify your customer against any claim etc. incurred for alleged infringement (including by people other than you) in respect of the translations. So if I claim that your client stole my copyright to write the documents(regardless of how baseless such a claim might be), you are responsible for your client's legal bills.


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RNAtranslator  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
I would not sign this without asking a lawyer first! Mar 3, 2008

Anabel Martínez wrote:

I should indemnify my costumer "against (...) ***alleged*** infringement of copyright in respect of the translations or original work supplied".



I do agree with Paul Merriam. I am not a lawyer, but if I have understood well, you should indemnify not only for infringement (this would be fair), but also for alleged infringement.

No, not at all: you must indemnify your customer (or anybody else) for any damage you actually do, that's fair, but NEVER for the claim of an infringement. I think that in some countries this sentence would not be valid in a legal court (in Spain we call that "cláusulas abusivas"), but you'd better ask a lawyer first, or even better, don't sign it.

Good luck

Ignacio

[Edited at 2008-03-03 23:24]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Actions and infringements by whom? Mar 4, 2008

Anabel Martínez wrote:
Basically it states that I should indemnify my costumer "against all actions, claims, costs, damages or losses incurred for the infringement or alleged infringement of copyright in respect of the translations or original work supplied".


I hate it when clients want me to sign such nebulous things. Why can't they simply let me sign a clause in which I grant them an unlimited license to the text as well as an unlimited license to relicense the text?

In my country, copyright infringement is a criminal offence, so the above clause would be like asking me to indemnify someone against claims if they break into my house. It's much easier to just say "I hereby grant you permission to come into my house at any time", and far less ambiguous too.

But I'm not a lawyer. All I know is that copyright law is different in different countries.

Alternatively, how about signing an agreement in which you state that you regard your translation as a form of editing. Editors get no protection in terms of the Berne Convention -- only translators, even if the editors make major, major changes to the work. Oh, well, just a thought...


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Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:54
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 4, 2008

Thank you for your answers, I felt something wrong, but could not put my finger on it, but you named it perfectly well. I have told the customer I will not sign it unless it states clearly that I should do such infringement, and not alledged either... But they do not seem to understand

I also wonder why sign such a thing, as violating something like that would ruin my reputation anyway and I like what I do...


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Marie-Andree Dionne  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:54
English to French
There are clients you are better NOT having, no matter what Mar 4, 2008

Anabel Martínez wrote:

Thank you for your answers, I felt something wrong, but could not put my finger on it, but you named it perfectly well. I have told the customer I will not sign it unless it states clearly that I should do such infringement, and not alledged either... But they do not seem to understand

I also wonder why sign such a thing, as violating something like that would ruin my reputation anyway and I like what I do...


I agree with above posts. I would add that in my experience, clients who want you to sign this kind of documents ARE the ones who are going to try and use it agains you. Good faith is usually not in the area with those clients.

(And there are clients you are better NOT having, no matter what)

Have a great day!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:54
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The fact that it is a standard clause... Mar 5, 2008

Anabel Martínez wrote:
I have told the customer I will not sign it unless it states clearly that I should do such infringement, and not alledged either... But they do not seem to understand...


Clients (or PMs working for clients) will often have inherited a contract from long ago that was vetted by a lawyer, and they will say that this is a "standard contract". Well, it may be a standard contract but that doesn't mean it is a safe contract.

Here's an example of how one could fall for a "standard" contract. Until recently, in my country, a plaintiff could sue in two types of courts (a lower and a higher court) depending on the amount of money involved. Judgements in the lower court were cheaper, they were easier to get, and the burden of proof was practically one-sided. So one of the "standard clauses" in many contracts read something like this: "I submit to the jurisdiction of Court XYZ in all matters regarding this contract." Since the name of the court is also the name of a region, many people thought that this clause simply meant which region's courts would have jurisdiction. The catch? Court XYZ was a lower court, which meant that plaintiffs could get judgements against you cheaply and quickly, even in your absence, no matter what amount was involved.

I hope I was vague enough not to offend Debs


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