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Giving Client a Translator's Name
Thread poster: Wendy Gosselin

Wendy Gosselin  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 21, 2007

We have a publishing house as a client and our agency has just translated a book for publication. Now the publishing house is asking for the translator's name (apparently, only for the purpose of acknowledging the translator in the book itself). Do we have a legal obligation of giving out this person's name? Do we have a moral obligation to do so? Any feedback and/or experience would be helpful. Thanks!

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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:19
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Why would you refuse? Nov 21, 2007

I have translated several books, and I know that it makes a real difference for translators to have their name printed on the title page (or on page 4).
As a reader, I would be surprised not to see the translator's name at all – or to see an agency's name.
So, why would you refuse it? Are you afraid that the publisher contacts the translator directly?
I know nothing about legal obligations in Argentina.
Best regards
Attila


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:19
Spanish to English
IMHO Nov 21, 2007

I would think you have at least a moral obligation. As an agency you make a profit on the translator's work to pay for your part of the work, which can be very valuable, but in the end, the translator did creative work and deserves recognition for the creative side of that.

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Wendy Gosselin  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Fear of client contacting translator directly Nov 21, 2007

Attila, Yes, we are concerned that the publishing house could later contact the translator directly. Especially nowadays, when practically anyone can be found on google!

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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:19
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
No reason Nov 21, 2007

Wendy Gosselin wrote:

Attila, Yes, we are concerned that the publishing house could later contact the translator directly. Especially nowadays, when practically anyone can be found on google!


Dear Wendy,

In my opinion this is absolutely no reason to withhold the translator's name. You might have have your translator sign a statement that forbids him to work for your clients, but that's a different story. In my opinion, you absolutely are morally obliged to tell the translator's name.

My 2 cents,
Erik


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Dina Abdo  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 04:19
Member (2005)
Arabic
+ ...
What about setting up a written agreement? Nov 21, 2007

Wendy Gosselin wrote:

Attila, Yes, we are concerned that the publishing house could later contact the translator directly. Especially nowadays, when practically anyone can be found on google!


Hi Wendy ...

I agree with you in this regard. As Lesley said, you have a moral obligation toward your translator, but your translator should have the same moral obligation toward you too. Yet, and in order to make things easier ... why don't you set an agreement signed by you, the client and the translator setting up a specific period of time prohibiting the client from getting in direct contact with the translator for work without your permission? Many agencies do that, and as long as good intentions are there, then there will never be a problem to neither the client nor the translator to sign a similar agreement.

I'm a freelance translator myself, but I've been doing outsourcing for a while too, so I assume I can appreciate your position and your translator's

Just a suggestion


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Annelise Meyer  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:19
English to French
+ ...
An agreement with the client?! Nov 21, 2007

Hi Dina,

The idea of a signed agreement between the agency and the translator seems quite reasonable, however I must disagree with you about the client.
Be it only legally, I don't see any way to bind a client to a specific service provider: as far as I am aware, a client is entitled to pick the provider he or she wants, whatever the product or service! Or did I misunderstand you?

Cheers,

Annelise


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tinageta  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:19
English to Latvian
+ ...
If I were the client... Nov 21, 2007

... and the agency would stubbornly refuse to disclose the translator's name so that I could fulfill my obligation to recognize the translator as an author of the translation, I would never work with that agency again.
IMHO.


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 04:19
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
Disclose Nov 21, 2007

I agree with tinageta and also such stubborn refusal to reveal translator's name would make me wonder - what do you have to hide and why is this such a top secret matter?

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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 21:19
English to Russian
+ ...
Are you a good agency for that translator? Nov 21, 2007

I would never go to direct clients because my agencies treat me right. I might gain a few cents but I will lose my freedom, at least the way I see it, and become an admin/manager etc. with lots of unpaid time required to stay affloat and all the mess exsept for actual translation that I'll have to put up with - from all kinds of phone calls to DTP. Are you sure that the translator would want to take on all the hassles of being responsible for everything, especially with a publishing house?

If you make it worthwhile to stay with you, we'll stay.

In any case, I think you do have a moral obligation to disclose the name, and please keep in mind that you do not own us - unless you have a non-competition clause valid for 10 years (and sickos who've signed it), in 1 or 2 years max this translator will be off the hook anyway if you upset h/h. On the client's side, I would be very surprised to meet this kind of resistance and would not like it one bit. It looks and smells strange. As a translator, in this particular instance I would start counting my days before I get out of the old contract with you and would never sign a new one.

After all, the publishing house might worry about later problems with copyright, they know what they are doing.


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Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:19
English to Swedish
Threshold of originality Nov 22, 2007

For definition, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_of_originality

This also applies to translations, and of course the translators name should appear in the book.

In Sweden this is important for many reasons:
* the translator gets a certain amount (a few cents) each time a copy if a translated book is borrowed from the public libraries (half the amount of what an author gets)
* the amount of books translated can form grounds for grants etc.
* and of course it is important to a translator to be acknowledged with her/his name in order to get more work

A fairly new agreement for translators of fiction actually contains a paragraph which states that if the translators name is not present in a book, the publishing house has to pay a fine of around $1,500 to the translator.

Best regards,
Cecilia


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Different opinion Nov 22, 2007

Strictly speaking, the provider is Wendy's agency, not the individual translator, and if the credit is given to the translator in the book, that credit should be in the name of the agency.

A book I translated has another name credited as the translator, because he was the agent who mediated my contact with the publisher. A little disappointing, but fair.

If they want the same translator to do other jobs for them, they can go through the agency, but stipulate that they will only give her agency the project if that particular translator is assigned to it. This can be done without giving the client the translator's name.


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Haiyang Ai  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:19
English to Chinese
+ ...
Credit to translator. Nov 22, 2007

I think the translator should be acknowledged in the book, not agency. Because the creative work was basically done by translator. It seems a little bit odd to see that an agency was the translator of a book.

Kind regards,
Haiyang


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:19
Dutch to English
+ ...
Standard practice Nov 22, 2007

GoodWords wrote:

Strictly speaking, the provider is Wendy's agency, not the individual translator, and if the credit is given to the translator in the book, that credit should be in the name of the agency.

A book I translated has another name credited as the translator, because he was the agent who mediated my contact with the publisher. A little disappointing, but fair.

If they want the same translator to do other jobs for them, they can go through the agency, but stipulate that they will only give her agency the project if that particular translator is assigned to it. This can be done without giving the client the translator's name.


I had a similar experience but although my name did not appear on the book, I did get invited to the presentation of my translated version and I physically met the author. The agency knows I will not poach their customer and the customer is happy with the other services the agency provides. I always find that being open works best in the long term since it is very difficult to keep a secret and honesty is very much appreciated.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Legal obligation? Nov 22, 2007

Wendy Gosselin wrote:
Now the publishing house is asking for the translator's name (apparently, only for the purpose of acknowledging the translator in the book itself). Do we have a legal obligation of giving out this person's name?


Whether or not you have a legal obligation can only be answered by a legal expert in your country... not by us guessing in the forum.

The publisher usually have an obligation to mention the name of the translator... but I've seen agencies that insist that the name of the agency is mentioned instead of the name of the translator (although I find this weird).

The only reason you may want to refuse is if you're afraid the publisher might poach the translator, and that's easily overcome by making the translator sign a contract stating that he must not poach your clients.


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