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Agency contract - to sign or not to sign, that is the question?
Thread poster: Sarah Downing

Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
German to English
+ ...
Feb 5, 2007

Dear colleagues,

I recently did my first job for a new agency and they have now presented me with a contract to sign. Some of the stuff seems pretty standard, but there are two clauses that I am not really sure about, and I would like some advice on whether you think I should sign the contract? Here it is – the parts I am particularly unsure of are marked with ****. One of them regards a contract penalty – needless to say, I wouldn’t divulge any of this company’s trade secrets anyway as that would be downright stupid not to mention unprofessional, but I’m still not keen on signing something with a penalty and unlimited claims for damages. As for the other clause, is it really legal that they can use my translations as often as they like and yet still only pay me for one job??? Needless to say, I realise that any advice given is non-binding and that you can't be held liable for it, but I'd like it anyway:-)

TIA,

Sarah

Vertraulichkkeitserklärung freier Mitarbeiter

Ich verpflichte mich, alle Daten, die mir bei der Arbeit für die xxx GmbH bekannt werden, insbesondere Geschäfts- und Betriebsgeheimnisse und als vertraulich eingestufte Informationen, nur zur Durchführung meiner Aufträge zu verwenden und zeitlich unbegrenzt streng vertraulich zu behandeln.

Sämtliche Informationen, soweit sie schriftlich dokumentiert sind, einschließlich alle davon vorhandenen Kopien werde ich unverzüglich, sobald dies gewünscht wird, an den Auftraggeber zurücksenden. Alle von mir aufgrund der Informationen erstellten Unterlagen werde ich, sobald dies gewünscht wird, vernichten.

Ich werde keinerlei Informationen, besonders Daten über die von der xxx GmbH betreuten Kunden, die ich während meiner Arbeit erhalten habe, für eigene Zwecke nutzen.

****Im Falle der Zuwiderwandlung ist eine Vertragsstrafe von 5.000 Euro zu zahlen. Daneben bleiben Schadensersatzansprüche in unbegrenzter Höhe vorbehalten.****

Zugleich verpflichte ich mich, alle in Rahmen meiner Arbeit für die xxx GmbH geschaffenen Werke – zusammenfassend „Werk“ genannt – ****zeitlich, örtlich und inhaltlich unbeschränkt zur ausschließlichen Nutzung und zur beliebig häufigen, ganzen oder teilweisen Auswertung in jeder kommerziellen und nicht kommerziellen Form ausschließlich der Firma xxx GmbH zu überlassen.***** Das „Werk“ umfasst Werbe-, Anzeigen-, Präsentations-, Treatment-, Storyboard-, Drehbuch-, Produkt-, Vertragstexte und allgemein Texte jeglicher Art sowie Gestaltungen, Computerprogramme, Entwürfe, Skizzen, Modelle, Produktaufmachungen oder sonstige Designs jeglicher Art, POS-Konzeptionen, Bild- oder Tonmaterialien in jeglicher phonographischer und/oder audiovisueller Form etc.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:52
Italian to English
+ ...
Sarah, maybe you should translate it into English! Feb 5, 2007

Either that or post it in the German section.

Good luck.


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Will move it to the German section Feb 5, 2007

Sorry Marie-Helene - you are right of course. I will move it to the German section.

Thanks for pointing this out.

Sarah


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Basit Ijaz
Pakistan
Local time: 03:52
Member (2010)
English to Urdu
+ ...
Shouldnt be signed Feb 5, 2007

Sarah...an agency or even a publisher has a right to use our translation as many times as they need, coz they have paid us the labour and both parties agree that there will no copyrights on translator's behalf and all rights are resevered to them (publisher or agency). But if it is agreed that translator's name will be appear on the printed text as a translator, they bound to print it an many times as they print that material.

About penalty clause...I have heard this thing for the first time and I dont think that they have any legal right, though laws vary country to country.

Good luck and take care


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Tatiana Neamţu
Romania
Local time: 01:52
English to Romanian
+ ...
I did't ... Feb 5, 2007

Some time ago I was offered a similar agreement. The damages would've been even higher: 10.000 EUR. And it had far more questionable clauses. I didn't sign. But I see that our German peers would sign it ....
Ah, about using it more than once. It seems only fair to me. After all, if we buy a pair of shoes, we can wear them more than once for the same price.

[Editat la 2007-02-05 23:40]


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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:52
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Copyright considerations Feb 6, 2007

Tatiana Neamţu wrote:

Some time ago I was offered a similar agreement. The damages would've been even higher: 10.000 EUR. And it had far more questionable clauses. I didn't sign. But I see that our German peers would sign it ....
Ah, about using it more than once. It seems only fair to me. After all, if we buy a pair of shoes, we can wear them more than once for the same price.

[Editat la 2007-02-05 23:40]


Hi Tatiana,

Thanks for your comments. As for using it more than once, I feel that there do have to be some limitations somewhere because a. a translation isn't really comparable to a pair of shoes which are designed to be worn more than once anyway - this is like comparing apples and pears and b. If the translation can be used by the end customer as often as they like, this means that they can theoretically use it to generate additional revenue (i.e. revenue above and beyond what the end customer pays them), e.g. if I translate a book, I find it only fair that I be paid royalties if the author is earning handsomely thanks to my translation, but if I signed this contract, this wouldn't be the case, and the agency could do whatever they damn well liked with my translation.

I'm not sure how likely it is that they would be able to use it more than once, but the clause at least seems to suggest this because in this theotretical case, the agency could sell my translation as many times as they liked yet only pay me once. How can that possibly be fair?

I'd also like to point out that in the case of e.g. graphic design or journalism (I am also a journalist), which are also creative professions (most of the texts that I do and would probably do for this company are highly creative and involve adaptation/copywriting) there ARE copyright limitations. I know this because I have recently commissioned a graphic designer colleague to design me a new website. So, how can it be that there are limitations here, but not in another field of creativity such as translation/adaptation.

I have already got used to the fact that we are practically never given any credit for our translations, i.e. rarely are our names mentioned, but surely we have some form of rights.

Cheers,


Sarah


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