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Is it legal to sell/buy translation agency databases?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 17:05
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Feb 25, 2009

Hello,

Some time ago I received the following proposal (just wonder where those people got my email address - OK, these should be spammer):

"Hello,
I would like to offer you the database of translation agencies and translators of all Europe countries (44 countries). Database is in excel format and consists of 44 sheets (one sheet-one country). Sheet consists of 9 columns: company name, address, post code, city, telephone, mobile phone, fax, e-mail and web page. In the database is more than 20 000 contacts. The price of database is 95 EUR."

OK, I am not intending to spam using such a database, also - no one can know if it is a realistic database or not. But let's leave these issues aside. The question here - Is it legal so collect and sell such "databases" (possibly these were collected/copied from some "internet yellow pages" and even from proz) and is it legal to buy these. I guess it can be a serious infringement of the copyrights/property rights of those sites sites and I guess it can be a rather serious fraud made not only by the seller, but by the buyer too?

Any considerations or thoughts about that?


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Dr. Andrew Frankland  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Just a thought, but... Feb 25, 2009

Other translator sites offer databases of translation agencies "free" to their (paying) members. The one I'm a non-paying member of is forever sending me emails advertising their database of 6000+ translation agencies in order to get me to pay for membership. Perhaps this re-seller has got his hands on one of those and has decided to try and make some money out of it.

Andy


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 16:05
English to Hungarian
+ ...
source Feb 25, 2009

I'm not a lawyer but I think it depends on where the information is from.
If it is in the public domain, it should be legal to collect and sell.
The guy could have used the internet and phone books to look up translation agencies and collect the information, which basically means he offers to do research for other people. Nothing illegal in that.

I have no idea who would want a database like that, other than spammers...


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Why should it be illegal? Feb 25, 2009

Copyright involves exploiting an individual's rights as an author, creator of something.

These agencies, being in business, certainly advertise their name, address, telephone, e-mail, whatever. There is no "authoring" in that. Anyone may use search engines to find them, enter their data into a database, compile it, and sell the results of their research and compilation". If they find these on other directories and merge a few, why not?

The problem is in the buying side: Who would want to buy these?

As a translator, I see no point in spamming the world with my CV. Such a directory would certainly include:
- agencies that don't work in my language pairs
- agencies that have gone out of business
- agencies that pay less thand I'd accept
- agencies that don't pay

Why should anyone bother about buying such a list?

For about the same EUR 95 one can get a partial membership to Proz, have access to the Blue Board, visit the "interesting" agencies' web sites and then target their advertising.

Thinking from the other side, what agency has staff reading all the CVs they get? Of course the PM will either search on Proz & alikes' databases, post job ads, but only when they have a specific job at hand.


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Stuart Dowell  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 16:05
Member (2007)
Polish to English
+ ...
Where did they get your email address? Feb 26, 2009

MariusV wrote:

just wonder where those people got my email address



It's possible the sender of the message got your email address from your website, which has a link on your profile here at proz.


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Rahi Moosavi  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:05
Member (2004)
Farsi (Persian) to English
+ ...
Are such lists useful? Feb 26, 2009

I'm a freelancer but my email was included in some of these lists and consequently I was receiving loads of resumes and applications (means people actually buy or maybe share these lists), I asked people where they got my email from and then wrote to the sites that sold the lists. They removed my address but the point is that these lists may be full of email addresses of people like me, freelancers and it will not be really worthwhile to send out resumes like this not to mention the great number of listed agencies that may not even require my language pair...

On the other hand, I don't think this is illegal. They are collecting public domain information and selling it, selling the time they spend on research and putting the lists together.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Could be illegal in Spain Feb 26, 2009

The Agencia de Protección de Datos would love to hear about such databases, to check whether they are officially registered and whether the people reflected in them have a approved such a commerce of their data. Sellers of a database without these guarantees can easily get big fines in Spain.

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Er... Feb 26, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

The Agencia de Protección de Datos would love to hear about such databases, to check whether they are officially registered and whether the people reflected in them have a approved such a commerce of their data. Sellers of a database without these guarantees can easily get big fines in Spain.


A distinction is made between personal data and public domain. The second part is pretty hard to determine (on one hand, you could get public data up to some extent from official registers, and on another, you could be sued by a company for heaven knows what).


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:05
French to English
Seconded Feb 26, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:

I'm not a lawyer but I think it depends on where the information is from.
If it is in the public domain, it should be legal to collect and sell.
The guy could have used the internet and phone books to look up translation agencies and collect the information, which basically means he offers to do research for other people. Nothing illegal in that.


I can't see anything wrong with it either, asuming that the vendor has not simply taken another list and added no value to it.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sending mass emails is already a risk of trouble in Spain Feb 26, 2009

Parrot wrote:
Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
The Agencia de Protección de Datos would love to hear about such databases, to check whether they are officially registered and whether the people reflected in them have a approved such a commerce of their data. Sellers of a database without these guarantees can easily get big fines in Spain.

A distinction is made between personal data and public domain. The second part is pretty hard to determine (on one hand, you could get public data up to some extent from official registers, and on another, you could be sued by a company for heaven knows what).


Indeed. Sending mass emails could be considered illegal by the Agencia de Protección de Datos. In Spain, I would not risk sending mass emails. There have been people who have suffered big fines. Even worse is the fact that, with the Agencia de Protección de Datos, you first have to pay the fine with no appeal possible (the fine can be hundreds of thousands of Euros) and then, if you don't agree, have to sue the Agencia, a process which takes years in Spain. So in the end, you risk having to "lend" these people a pile of money even if you get it back eventually... Personally I would never use such information.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:05
French to English
As eleswhere Feb 26, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Sending mass emails could be considered illegal by the Agencia de Protección de Datos. In Spain, I would not risk sending mass emails.

Likewise in many jurisdictions.
But the point of the question is not one use to which it may be put.
The question is - is selling such a database legal?
After all, you don't have to use it for spam


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:05
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Ask about their procedures Feb 26, 2009

MariusV wrote:
The question here - Is it legal so collect and sell such "databases" (possibly these were collected/copied from some "internet yellow pages" and even from proz) and is it legal to buy these.


This would depend on your country's laws. I know of no ZA law that prohibits one from making lists of commonly available information and selling those lists, for example, but that doesn't mean that there won't be issues.

My question would be whether you'd be able to relay requests for removal to the person selling you the list. I would also want to know how he got the addresses. Gathering 20 000 contacts would be no trivial task if done manually. It is possible that he would be unwilling to tell you where he got the addresses (under the mum that he does not want to reveal his secrets), but if he is honest, he should have no problem telling you.

I guess it can be a serious infringement of the copyrights/property rights of those sites sites...


I'm no copyright lawyer or legal expert, but in ZA you can't copyright lists, AFAIK.

...and I guess it can be a rather serious fraud made not only by the seller, but by the buyer too?


In ZA, if this guy stole the information from other web sites, and if it contains copyrightable material, this type of deal would probably fall under trading in counterfeit goods. In ZA, it is not illegal to buy counterfeit goods if you're not aware that it is counterfeit, and if this fact is pointed out to you by a law enforcer, you can walk off scott-free if you permit him to confiscate the goods.

IANAL, though, and I provide this information simply to show you that (a) it depends on your own country's laws and (b) more than just copyright may be at stake.

Personally I would not hesitate to buy such a list, if I thought that such lists would be worth buying.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Swedish to English
+ ...
Doubt it Feb 26, 2009

Seems like my posting was duplicated, so have deleted one.

[Edited at 2009-02-26 23:21 GMT]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:05
Swedish to English
+ ...
Doubt it Feb 26, 2009

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

The Agencia de Protección de Datos would love to hear about such databases, to check whether they are officially registered and whether the people reflected in them have a approved such a commerce of their data. Sellers of a database without these guarantees can easily get big fines in Spain.


EU countries, including Spain, are required to incorporate all EU directives into their national legislation within a certain amount of time. I guess this is the remit of the 'Agencia de Protección de Datos'.

If I remember correctly, data protection is covered by this directive:

http://www.cdt.org/privacy/eudirective/EU_Directive_.html

As you can see it relates to "protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data".

I.e. this directive concerns personal data (I've recently been forced to take a course + test by my in-house company as I handle personal data).

To my knowledge nothing in this directive relates to legal entities and their data. Selling info about legal entities, whether huge corporations or kitchen table agencies, is thus not covered by the directive.

[Edited at 2009-02-26 23:20 GMT]


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