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Another copyright issue...
Thread poster: AnnikaLight

AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:57
English to German
Apr 25, 2006

Hi everyone,

I'm not sure if this has been discussed before, but I don't think so... (checked the archives).

The issue:

1) Journalist writes German movie review.

2) Movie review gets translated into English by translation agency.

3) Actor (who plays in movie) puts the English (translated version) of the review on his website.
Format: Title of Review, German original by XYZ, followed by review text

So, who's the copyright owner of this review? The German journalist? Or the translation agency? I know it's not the translator (because the agency owns the rights to the translation).

The agency told the client (i.e. the actor) that he owns the copyright to the translation.

Can the original German review writer still complain and ask for the translated review to be removed from the website?

Or can he even make monetary claims against the actor?

Thanks for any input ...

A.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:57
German to English
General rule Apr 25, 2006

Annika,

Copyright law does vary from country to country, but there are general conventions applicable throughout the EU.

One of these rules is that the copyright owner of an original text also holds copyright to any derivative works, including translations, so the permission of the original copyright owner must be obtained for a (published) translation.

In your case, it would appear at first sight that the journalist holds the copyright. However, it's quite possible that the journalist assigned the copyright (exploitation rights, Verwertungsrechte) to another party that actually published the article, in which case it is that party (website owner, magazine, etc.) that is able to decide whether a translation may be published or not.

Oh, and one other thing: if the translation is authorized, it is the translator who holds the "moral rights" (Autorenrechte) to the translation. Doesn't bring you anything, though, except the right to be cited...

The above purely my own personal interpretation and not to be interpreted in any way as some form of legal advice.

Robin


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AnnikaLight  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:57
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Translator's right to be cited? Apr 25, 2006

RobinB wrote:


Oh, and one other thing: if the translation is authorized, it is the translator who holds the "moral rights" (Autorenrechte) to the translation. Doesn't bring you anything, though, except the right to be cited...


Robin



Hi Robin,

Thanks for your quick response...

... though I wonder about the translator's rights you mention above. The translator signed an agreement with the agency that anything he translates is owned by the agency...

I never get cited for anything I translate for an agency... In fact, I'm unknown entity to the end client.

Why do you think the translator has the right to be cited?

Thanks,

A.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:57
German to English
Translator's right Apr 25, 2006

AnnikaLight wrote: though I wonder about the translator's rights you mention above. The translator signed an agreement with the agency that anything he translates is owned by the agency...

I never get cited for anything I translate for an agency... In fact, I'm unknown entity to the end client.

Why do you think the translator has the right to be cited?


Because the translator *does* have the right to be cited, if he or she so wishes. You can't sign away that "moral right", you can only assign the exploitation rights (which will normally be the case).

Plenty of translators are cited in published documents, including things like annual reports. Of course, it's a matter for negotiation with the customer, and it's unlikely that an agency customer will be happy about your name being cited.

Robin


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Depends on the country... Apr 25, 2006

AnnikaLight wrote:
The agency told the client (i.e. the actor) that he owns the copyright to the translation.


It really depends on the country, but in ZA (for example) the client (who paid for the translation to be done) doesn't have the copyright (he does, however, have a licence from the translator to use the translation for its original purpose, which may include publication). In ZA, the translator{1} is the copyright holder of the translation, and the original author is the copyright holder of the original text.

But it may be different in your country.

Can the original German review writer still complain and ask for the translated review to be removed from the website?


In ZA, if the original copyright holder gave permission for the translation to be done, then the copyright of the translation belongs to the translator, not the original author. The original author can only complain if he feels that he is being slandered by the publication of it. If, however, the original author *did not* authorise the translation to be done, then it would be illegal to publish the translation at all.

==

{1} Note for ZA: freelance translator = translator has copyright for all purposes; employed translator = employer has copyright for specified purposes and translator has copyright for other purposes.


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Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:57
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
Books Apr 26, 2006

RobinB wrote:

Annika,

Copyright law does vary from country to country, but there are general conventions applicable throughout the EU.

One of these rules is that the copyright owner of an original text also holds copyright to any derivative works, including translations, so the permission of the original copyright owner must be obtained for a (published) translation.

In your case, it would appear at first sight that the journalist holds the copyright. However, it's quite possible that the journalist assigned the copyright (exploitation rights, Verwertungsrechte) to another party that actually published the article, in which case it is that party (website owner, magazine, etc.) that is able to decide whether a translation may be published or not.

Oh, and one other thing: if the translation is authorized, it is the translator who holds the "moral rights" (Autorenrechte) to the translation. Doesn't bring you anything, though, except the right to be cited...

The above purely my own personal interpretation and not to be interpreted in any way as some form of legal advice.

Robin


Hi Robin,

Do you think it must be the same for the books?
What should be the rule if it is not a document but a book to publish?

Regards

Nizam


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:57
German to English
Books - definitely! Apr 26, 2006

Nizamettin Yigit wrote:
Do you think it must be the same for the books?
What should be the rule if it is not a document but a book to publish?


Hi Nizam,

All the more so for books. A book translation that doesn't credit the translator (provided he/she actually wants to be credited) is, quite frankly, scandalous. It may be that the publisher asks the translator if the translation credit can be omitted (for whatever reason), but that should be negotiated in the contract and would normally result in a higher fee to the translator.

But many publishers think that book translators are overpaid secretarial assistants (see recent court rulings e.g. in Germany), and it's often the case that translators have to take legal action to enforce their rights.

Your national translator association(s) will be able to point you in the direction of the appropriate laws, etc. in your country.

HTH,
Robin


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