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About author rights... or not
Thread poster: Raquel Bragança
Raquel Bragança
Local time: 19:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Apr 14, 2008

I have a delicate question to ask the translation community that has been bugging me.

I'm a teacher and I started working as a freelancer subtitler for the TV network where I live. I have been translating soap operas produced in Brazil by one of the major companies in that country (I cannot disclose names).

I have translated 130 episodes of 160 so far, and the Brazilian company was quite pleased witht the translation and requested the tv station to whom i work to send the 160 tapes already subtitled.

Two days ago they asked me for the files, i.e. the scripts translated from Portuguese to English to send the Brazilian company.

I'm aware that I'm working for this tv station and they hold the right to use the subtitled soap opera as they wish, but are they entitled to sell the files (wordfiles) to the Brazilian company so that they will sell it worldwide?

I hope I have exposed my concern clearly and get some comments.

Thanks!


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 12:06
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
It's a question of the contract Apr 14, 2008

Two days ago they asked me for the files, i.e. the scripts translated from Portuguese to English to send the Brazilian company.


From what you told so far, there's no obligation on your side to provide anything. Looks like their approach is "let's try, maybe it will work"...

Judged by the amount of telenovellas flooding the world, I dont think you will be out of your job soon even if the unnamed company tries to squeeze you and you have to part your ways.




[Edited at 2008-04-14 15:06]


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Sylvano
Local time: 12:06
English to French
You should get paid for that Apr 16, 2008

Of course, you should get your financial share for giving out your work. As you point out, your subtitles will enable the Brazilian company to broadcast the show worldwide and make (a lot) of money. And the network you're working for won't give your subtitles for free either, be sure of that. Moreover, you're talking about an awful lot of episodes here! You should bear that in mind.

What about author's rights in the country you work in? In France (I know it's specific as far as author's rights are concerned), the author always keeps property of his/her work. There, you only temporarily, in a contract, authorize your client (network, publisher, producer, etc.) to use your subtitles. Therefore, not being the owner of your work, your client can't legaly sell, or even give it to somebody else, without your consent (and, hopefully, paying you as well). Well, to be honest, this is only theory, even in France.

My advice : you should try to get a deal (even a contract), get some money and demand to be told where and when your subtitles will be used. You may even try to get proportional royalties in countries where the show is broadcast.

Good luck to you!

Sylvano


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Kathryn Litherland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:06
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
what country are you working in? Apr 16, 2008

In the U.S., copyright for "works for hire" generally resides with the company contracting the work, not the author. I believe that this is the case even if you have not specifically signed a "work-for-hire" agreement. If you are not in the U.S., the legal status of your copyright may be different.

(edited to add: I see now that you are in Macau, so yes, your legal rights may well be different. Did you sign a contract with the TV station and does it address the issue of rights?)

[Edited at 2008-04-16 12:11]


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Nico Rhodionoff
India
Local time: 16:36
Russian to English
+ ...
contract conditions Apr 16, 2008

Kathryn Litherland is quite right - first thing: check out your contract conditions carefully!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-04-17 04:50]


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Raquel Bragança
Local time: 19:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yeah, no contract! Apr 17, 2008

This Tv station doesn't provide contracts to freelance translators, so it's only an agreement.

The thing is, the contract with the Brazilian company obliges them to provide the translation for free, 'cause they sold the soap opera for a cheaper price (so they told me).
Now they've asked me to work on another 160 episodes of another soap opera but it seems it's already translated but not revised or subtitled, for which I'll get the same payment.

Thanks for your comments.

Anyway, I'll have to accept these conditions or get no job at all. It's a public TV station, with Chinese and Portuguese chanels, all the money comes from the government, no ads, I do know they can't pay me more...

The good thing is, this is not my full time job, I'm a teacher, I do this for fun, but I do want to know my rights!


Thanks again for your answers!


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:06
English
+ ...
Rights are often assigned May 21, 2008

In the UK, if you are employed by a company, it owns the subtitles you produce.

If you're freelance, you're usually asked to sign a contract in which you assign the rights to your subtitles to the company, and they can do what they want with them afterwards.


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Sylvano
Local time: 12:06
English to French
Better situation in France (in theory) May 22, 2008

kmtext wrote:

In the UK, if you are employed by a company, it owns the subtitles you produce.

If you're freelance, you're usually asked to sign a contract in which you assign the rights to your subtitles to the company, and they can do what they want with them afterwards.


In France, we have such contracts, but only as far as broadcasting is concerned, within limits of time and specific mediums. The translation itself, author's rights and future use of your work always remain our property. Well, this is theory though, as clients often sell our files to one another without consulting (and paying) us.


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xxxBenji145
English
Contract? Jun 20, 2008

Do you have contract with the company? What about the items about the authorities the company have to spread your work?

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jbjb  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 13:06
Estonian to English
+ ...
company Jun 22, 2008

In the old days translation contracts with bigger subtitling agencies/DVD producers used to read that the rights of the translations are assigned to the company globally for 50 years and during that time the translator does not have any copyright on the translations.

More modern contracts assign the rights to the company/producer "in perpetuity" and "throughout the universe".
At least the good news seem to be that space and time travel must be imminent.


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