Book Translation
Thread poster: Nisreen Barakat
Nisreen Barakat  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 23:59
English to Arabic
+ ...
Oct 29, 2007

hello everybody!

I got an offer to translate a book, but the author and I are in different countries, so i'd like to know how can we create a contract between us, and any other relevant information about the translator's rights when translating a book are welcome!

Thanks a lot


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:59
English to French
+ ...
contract with publisher - not with the author Oct 29, 2007

Usually you don't contract with the author, but with the publishing house which will publish your translation.

Prior to thet the publisher must have bought the rights for translation into your language from the author's original publisher.

The contract is very similar to the contract signed between a writer and his/her pulisher. You can contact a writer's association for guidelines and models.


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Nisreen Barakat  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 23:59
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The author has a publisher, not me! Oct 30, 2007

I don't have a publisher, the author does, so I'm in contact with the author and not the publisher...

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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:59
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I think what Nordiste is saying... Oct 30, 2007

is that generally the publishing house has rights to translated versions as well. They can sell those rights to other houses, etc. Before even thinking about entering into a direct contract with the author, I agree that you need to be certain the author isn't exercising rights that he/she doesn't hold. Once the author has sold the book, his/her rights are dependent on her agreement with the publishing house (if I understand this correctly).

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Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:59
English to Czech
Rights Oct 30, 2007

Laura Tridico wrote:

is that generally the publishing house has rights to translated versions as well. They can sell those rights to other houses, etc. Before even thinking about entering into a direct contract with the author, I agree that you need to be certain the author isn't exercising rights that he/she doesn't hold. Once the author has sold the book, his/her rights are dependent on her agreement with the publishing house (if I understand this correctly).



No. The rights allways belong to author. It is a matter of agreement with publishing house, how those rights are ëxrcised. In USA it is maybe common practise to include exclusivity for foreign markets as well, but not in smaller countries and especially not for unknown authors. But of course, it is unusual to deal directly with author. It seems that author plans to publish the book on his own expense. So unless you know the author weel personally, it si rather risky business))


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Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:59
English to Czech
Actually, it is even more complicated... Oct 30, 2007

The following is based upon Czech law, but because there are some international conventions, I suppose it si quite similar elsewhere:

Anybody can translate anything for his private or educational purpose - without author's consent.
Something completely different is publication.
So it is no problem to make a deal with author and translate his book. But then the translation si translator's work and author cannot publish it, unless translator grants him the rights.
On the other hand, if the author afterwards finds the publisher, the publisher is not bind to use that translation and can choose another translator for completely new translation.


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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:59
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Indruch may be right, but... Oct 31, 2007

maybe not. Unless you've spoken with the publisher, you can't be sure who owns the copyright to the work (at least under US law, and I expect we aren't unique). It seems unlikely that an author would pay for the translation simply to have it for personal use.

I found this interesting article that lays out some potential issues. What's also nice is that it has a sample translator's agreement that may help with your original question:

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/319

Of course it deals with U.S. law, but it's food for thought. In any event, as a translator you don't want to get in the middle of a copyright dispute (or any other fight) between the author and the publisher, so tread carefully.

In any respect, before entering into a deal with the author, be sure you understand the deal already in place with the publisher.


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Nisreen Barakat  Identity Verified
Palestine
Local time: 23:59
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
pretty mixed up! Oct 31, 2007

You're all right, it's quite messy! All I know is that the author contacted me and told me she wants me to translate her book, I asked her if she has a publisher, she said that she does and that she intends to publish the translated copy. Apparently, the author isn't quite sure of the general laws and rights concernign copyrights of the translator and so on, and neither do I!! So we're not helping each other.. and I'm afraid to take a decision before I understand how things are done.

Thank you Laura for the article


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Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 22:59
English to Czech
Actually, you do not need to care about all that... Oct 31, 2007

Nisreen Barakat wrote:

You're all right, it's quite messy! All I know is that the author contacted me and told me she wants me to translate her book, I asked her if she has a publisher, she said that she does and that she intends to publish the translated copy. Apparently, the author isn't quite sure of the general laws and rights concernign copyrights of the translator and so on, and neither do I!! So we're not helping each other.. and I'm afraid to take a decision before I understand how things are done.

Thank you Laura for the article


Your have only two concerns - to get paid for your work and proper use of your translation. The first problem can be solved by payment in advance for instance. The other is more complicated. Author can, for instance, send your translation to publishing house for assessment. They decide to publish book, but choose new translator. But the translator will use your translation as a "source material". But there will be his/her name on it. Then you may choose not to care about it, or sue the publishing for copyright infringement, which is allways very complicated process...


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