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Royalty Rights
Thread poster: John Shippey
John Shippey  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
May 7, 2008

I am just coming to the end of an 80,000 word translation of a self-help book, for publication on the US market. Before I started work on the project, I agreed a fee and deadline with my agency, who have also agreed to print my name in the published version, i.e. "Translated from Dutch into English by John Shippey for [translation aganecy]".

The fee I agreed was a bit less than my normal rate, but I wanted to do it for the experience, and to have a change from the short term commercial work I normally do.

I will be handing this translation back next week, but am now wondering about royalties. Am I entitled to any? How much? Should I have arranged this beforehand, or do I have statutory rights? How should I go about arranging this?

Any help, advice, information or links that anyone can provide would be very gratefully received!


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xxxPerereinger
Local time: 22:55
possible lead May 7, 2008

http://media.gn.apc.org/ar/gowers.html
might give you some leads ... though not directly related to royalties


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Nancy Ozturk  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:55
Turkish to English
+ ...
The way we do it May 7, 2008

John Shippey wrote:

I am just coming to the end of an 80,000 word translation of a self-help book, for publication on the US market. Before I started work on the project, I agreed a fee and deadline with my agency, who have also agreed to print my name in the published version, i.e. "Translated from Dutch into English by John Shippey for [translation aganecy]".

The fee I agreed was a bit less than my normal rate, but I wanted to do it for the experience, and to have a change from the short term commercial work I normally do.

I will be handing this translation back next week, but am now wondering about royalties. Am I entitled to any? How much? Should I have arranged this beforehand, or do I have statutory rights? How should I go about arranging this?

Any help, advice, information or links that anyone can provide would be very gratefully received!


In our translation/publishing company we have two different methods of contracting for translation services. The first method is to pay an `upfront` amount based on character count and the translator gets this payment once, no matter how often the piece is published. The translator is immediately paid after s/he turns in the job. We generally prefer this method for non-literary translations. For our literary books, we offer the translator a contract of 6-8% of royalties on retail price of all printings of the book. The translator is paid in three payments: one-third as an advance, one-third upon completion and the final one-third upon publishing. This sum is generally lower than the `upfront/one time` amount, but of course if the book goes into multiple printings the translator can make much more. This payment decision is made before the translator begins working on the book and we work with signed contracts so everyone knows ahead of time what the job and payment will entail.

I think you should have discussed this before you took on the job, but if you feel you are being underpaid then try to get a royalty contract.


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John Shippey  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:55
Dutch to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks May 7, 2008

Thanks for the useful information you have both supplied.

I suspected this is something I should have thought about before I agreed my fee, but part of my reason for taking the job on in the first place was to build on my translation experience and learn more, so in that sense I have succeeded. I am not unhappy with my fee; it just got me wondering if a translator had any statutory entitlements to royalties for published works.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:55
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
You are not entitled to royalties May 8, 2008

John Shippey wrote:
I will be handing this translation back next week, but am now wondering about royalties. Am I entitled to any? How much? Should I have arranged this beforehand, or do I have statutory rights?


IANAL, and laws differ, but...

You are entitled to recognition as the copyright holder of your translation, and you are entitled to grant licences to publishers to publish your translation (but they must also get a licence from the copyright holder of the original text). You are not entitled to any money whatsoever, unless there is an agreement for it.

When you took on the translation of this book, you agreed to grant a licence to the client to have your translation published. If no royalties are mentioned in the contract between you and the client, then you are not entitled to royalties for the licence you granted.

However... does the contract (or local laws) give the publisher the right to cede the licence or to relicence the translation to others? If not, then you can negotiate/demand royalties from subsequent publishers.

It all depends on the contract you have with the current publisher. Typically the contract will not limit the publisher by stating eg that the licence applies only to 2008, or only to the local country, or only to a first edition, or only to 10 000 copies, or suchlike. Publishers would be silly to limit themselves in that way voluntarily, but they often do that when forced by the other party.

But IANAL, and laws differ.


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