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Who owns the translation memory?
Thread poster: Francisco Pavez
Francisco Pavez  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 13, 2007

Greetings and Salutations to all.

I've never had to think about this but it has been raised in preassignment negotiations.

I know the client owns the source text and also the target text. It is also true that a translation memory is a compilation of both documents. The TM is my work, more to the point, the creation of the TM is my work, do I own it even if the text is someone else's?

If I do own it, can I sell it? Selling it to my client's competitor would of course be unethical, but what if the client wants the TM. I would have already sold the translation to the client, would this not be that same as the TM itself?

As my friends say "I'm confuzzed". I'd appreciate any help on this matter.


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 14:01
English to Spanish
TM helps both... Feb 13, 2007

A TM is very easy to do through WinAlign while you have the source and target texts. So, if your client is asking for it, just give it away, and make it easier for both.

The same goes for delivering "Trados Unclean" files to the client; they clean the translation and get the TM.
In other words, TMs belong to both.

On the other side, I would not sell my TMs to anyone, and least of all to my client's competition.

Regards,
Tadzio.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some thoughts... Feb 13, 2007

Francisco Pavez wrote:
The TM is my work, more to the point, the creation of the TM is my work...


Look, if it's part of your contract that you use a CAT tool that automatically creates a TM, then you don't really spend a lot of additional time "creating" the TM, do you? The TM is simply a byproduct of the translation process (a byproduct that the client might have an interest in). In that sense, the TM isn't something separate from the job.

So arguments like "the client didn't pay me for the TM" simply won't fly, because the cliend DID pay you for the TM if the client had initially requested that you use a CAT tool that automatically creates a TM (even if the client didn't mention the TM at all).

Also take note that even if you retain copyright of your translation, you do not get copyright of the source text by translating it.

Also, keep in mind that in terms of the confidentiality agreement with your client, you can't share the source text and/or target text with anyone else unless those texts are generally available to the public in electronic format.

The only way to get around this, if you want to sell the TM, is to regard the TM as nothing more than a fancy glossary (if the TM contians no markers that enable you to recreate the source text, and contains no information that may breach confidentiality). Are you willing to make yourself believe that?

I would only be willing to buy a TM if I know it is very likely that there would be many matches from that TM, and the only way that would happen, is if the TM is of some type of document that is very common.


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Francisco Pavez  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
storm in a teacup Feb 13, 2007

Thank you both for your input.

The question arose because I've never been asked for the TM before. I always figured it was not necessary since it can be recreated from the texts.

The argument for ownership is very flimsy since, like Samuel pointed out, it is generated automatically. My thoughts were along the lines of just handing it over, what confused me was that the issue was raised at all.

To further compound my confussion, I saw a web site not long ago where they actually traded the TMs as commodities, buying and selling them according to subject. I don't like the idea for the very issues of confidentiality and copyright.

I guess this is just a storm in a teacup. If the client wants the TM for texts that are their's anyway I can't justify not complying.

Thank you again.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:01
French to English
+ ...
experience Feb 13, 2007

I've been asked for a TM once - I told the client the truth, which was that I use one big 'master' memory, and extracting the TM for their work would involve re-aligning the texts, and I would charge for this service. They had the texts, so they did it themselves.

I know there are ways of labelling TM segments by client, but I had not done it, and by that stage it was too late...

Reading what Tadzio wrote, I realise I could have given them the .BAK files, but I didn't think of that, and the client didn't suggest it.

[Edited at 2007-02-13 10:43]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:01
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
My opinion Feb 13, 2007

Hello Francisco,

You can read my opinion here:

http://www.proz.com/edinburgh/AEJohnson_TMs_and_copyright.pdf

It may provide you with some food for thought.

Astrid


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:01
Dutch to English
+ ...
Nice one Feb 13, 2007

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Hello Francisco,

You can read my opinion here:

http://www.proz.com/edinburgh/AEJohnson_TMs_and_copyright.pdf

It may provide you with some food for thought.

Astrid


Hi Astrid,

Haven't got time now, but certainly looks like a worthwhile read. Thanks for sharing this link!

Debs


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Shawn Morse  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
Japanese to English
+ ...
Great summary of translator's rights Dec 2, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Hello Francisco,

You can read my opinion here:

http://www.proz.com/edinburgh/AEJohnson_TMs_and_copyright.pdf

It may provide you with some food for thought.

Astrid


I just came across this document.
This is a great summary of the rights of the translator regarding his/her TM.

I was just asked by my client for my TM well after delivery of the translation with no prior specification that the TM would also be needed by the client.

[Edited at 2009-12-02 22:21 GMT]


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
French to German
+ ...
Exactly what I was looking for... Dec 3, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Hello Francisco,

You can read my opinion here:

http://www.proz.com/edinburgh/AEJohnson_TMs_and_copyright.pdf

It may provide you with some food for thought.

Astrid


as some hard-boiled clients seem to want to get away "with the milk, the cheese and the cream" at the price of the milk only.

[Edited at 2009-12-03 07:39 GMT]


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:01
German to Spanish
+ ...
Who owns the translation memory? Dec 3, 2009

Francisco Pavez wrote:

Greetings and Salutations to all.

I've never had to think about this but it has been raised in preassignment negotiations.

I know the client owns the source text and also the target text. It is also true that a translation memory is a compilation of both documents. The TM is my work, more to the point, the creation of the TM is my work, do I own it even if the text is someone else's?

If I do own it, can I sell it? Selling it to my client's competitor would of course be unethical, but what if the client wants the TM. I would have already sold the translation to the client, would this not be that same as the TM itself?

As my friends say "I'm confuzzed". I'd appreciate any help on this matter.



I have a quite different opinion about translation memories ownership. As all the translators organizations in the world will recommend to you, clients must be warned that translation intellectual property belongs to the translator and that his/her translation can not be used in any manner until it has completely been paid. Consequently, translation memories belongs to the translator and must not be transferred to the client until the translation has completely been paid. I guess it is silly to give our time away and if they want a free memory they should bother to align the texts themselves, unless we agreed something different.

[Editado a las 2009-12-03 19:49 GMT]


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Lianne van de Ven  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:01
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
declined service contract Nov 2, 2011

I just declined a service contract for this reason. I feel I am a freelance translator, not an employee of the company that wants me to sign this as part of the agreement.
It might seem a minor issue, and they can have the TM but giving up the copyright to a TM would be like saying I was not the translator but the company was. That does not seem right to me - just based on common sense. It would mean that if I ever happen to use my own words again, they could sue me for it...

[Modifié le 2011-11-02 17:38 GMT]


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IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:01
Member (2005)
French to English
TM ownership: with qualifications, and in consistency with good practice Nov 2, 2011

Francisco Pavez wrote:

he client owns the source text and also the target text. It is also true that a translation memory is a compilation of both documents. The TM is my work, more to the point, the creation of the TM is my work, do I own it even if the text is someone else's?

[/quote]

Hullo, Francisco,

First, your client "owns" the source file, no doubt, or its end-client does. The translated work does, however, carry moral rights that I believe are inalienable: the right to your signature on a work if published: my insisting on this for a legal translation has generated untold mileage.

About selling the TM, I think you should consult TAUS (www.tausdata.org) about sharing and disclosing data. Among translators you can rely on, sharing TMs appears to be common practice, and prudent enough. The difficulty lies in determining which is the sensitive information you must weed out before marketing or, as in the case of TAUS, sharing the TM.

The other thing is that, if technically feasible, you should be allowed to keep a copy of TM segments that you yourself compiled: a legitimate right of use should not be debarred by clients, since you researched the translations, and they may be needed in the future for your professional betterment.

The distinctions are finely drawn, and need careful investigation, but translators should, ethically, master resources they themselves compiled.

With kind regards,

Adam Warren (IanDhu - 41189)


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:01
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
What if you didn't create the initial TM Jul 3, 2015

Astrid Elke Witte wrote:

Hello Francisco,

You can read my opinion here:

http://www.proz.com/edinburgh/AEJohnson_TMs_and_copyright.pdf

It may provide you with some food for thought.

Astrid


Hello Astrid,

Nice article, thank you!

What is your stance on TMs that were provided by the agency (maybe obtained from the end client or, more likely, from a previous translator). I am not going to agree to just give the new TM back and hand over all rights to it after I updated, amended, and corrected it; and I might agree to sell this new by-product if the agency wants it, but in the sense of letting them co-use it. I wouldn't want to sell it to them and agree not to use it myself. That wouldn't make sense because of my IP rights and the fact that many phrases in segments come up in other documents later again, and I will certainly use them again.
So I would sell it, and in my OWN confidentiality paragraph in a contract created by me, I will agree to let them co-use it for a one-time fee. I am not interested in licensing - too much of a hassle; I would rather sell the co-use-right anew for subsequent documents, related or unrelated to the previous TM transaction.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:01
Member (2008)
French to English
What about server-based TM and translation? Jul 3, 2015

What is the situation where the translator is required to connect to the client's server and update the client's TM in real time, as well as provide the final translation? Where do intellectual property rights fall in this case?

Even more complex is the case where an agency requires the translator to work within its remote translation environment. The translator is creating intellectual property directly on the client's servers, both in TM and target form? Who owns the copyrights in this case?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On using the client's resources Jul 4, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
What is your stance on TMs that were provided by the agency (maybe obtained from the end client or, more likely, from a previous translator). I am not going to agree to just give the new TM back and hand over all rights to it after I updated, amended, and corrected it...


My opinion is this:

If the client provides you with a resource, then you are free to use that resource, but you don't own the resource. Whether or not you are allowed to use the client's resource for other jobs is a separate discussion (after all, you use resources on the internet all the time, without asking permission of the site owners every time you consult the resources).

Anyway, the client's resource is not yours, and if you had updated the resource with information that you would have delivered to the client anyway, then from my perspective you're simply giving the client what already belongs to the client. [Note that I assume the TM is updated automatically, i.e. not that you spent additional time editing the TM.]

To summarise: if the client provides a TM, then I don't think it is any effort for the translator to send back an updated TM, and I don't think it warrants additional fees.

I wouldn't want to sell [the updated TM] to them and agree not to use it myself. That wouldn't make sense because of my IP rights and the fact that many phrases in segments come up in other documents later again, and I will certainly use them again.


You only own the segments that you edited. It would not be onerous to agree not to re-use the segments that the client had provided (but, as I said, whether or not that is your right is perhaps a separate discussion).



[Edited at 2015-07-04 09:42 GMT]


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