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Off topic: Copyright
Thread poster: John Farebrother

John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
Oct 28, 2006

A contract I am translating contains an extract from an act. On the government website there is a translation of the act into English. Is it legal to use this translation (there is no reference to copyright in it)? Does the final translation ahve to contain an acknowledgement? Or is it just the same as quoting the act in the original language?

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:19
Turkish to English
+ ...
Just use it Oct 29, 2006

I am no legal expert, but my opininion is that an official translation of a peice of legislation on a government website is in the public domain and is there for anyone to use as they wish. If I were you, I would copy the relevant section, paste it into my translation and move on without worrying. I don't see any need for an acknowledgement. Of course, this is with the proviso that you are satisfied with the standard of translation provided on the government website. Otherwise, you may wish to do a bit of editing.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:19
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Presume Oct 30, 2006

the government, as client of the other translator, holds the copyright, as publisher.

I had a case in which the client, a tax consultant, copied a standard Spanish text verbatim. I found the English translation on a regional government website using a co-official (third) language. Where I live (Spain), the official versions would be the original Spanish and the co-official third language, but the English version would have not have been a valid basis for interpretation in a court of law.

As it turned out (after consulting with the tax authorities), the English version could have led to errors in understanding, so I rehashed it without qualms. My purpose was, after all, to explain procedures to my client's client.

I had no business getting in touch with the regional government to tell them their English version could be misleading: in the first place, I know English would not be used as a language for interpretation (the official website was for orientation purposes), and in the second place I had no way of knowing the terms and circumstances under which the translator worked (i.e., s/he could have used the third language as source as per orders). What I simply wanted to avoid was the end-user's confusion with respect to the tax authorities.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Depends on the country Oct 30, 2006

John Farebrother wrote:
Is it legal to use this translation (there is no reference to copyright in it)?

Different countries have different laws with regard to copyright of government publications. Your call?

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Ivana de Sousa Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:19
French to Portuguese
+ ...
What I was thought in college Oct 30, 2006

I was thought that when we are translating an article of the civil code, for instance, or the EU treaty, the best to do is find the version of the other language and do as it is because it's the official text, so there can't be no misunderstandings.

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John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
copyright Nov 1, 2006

In the end I did just copy it out, and made some minor changes to be consistent with the terminologoy of teh rest of the document.
Thanks for your thoughts

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