Copyright clause in translator contract
Thread poster: Montse Ballesteros

Montse Ballesteros  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 9, 2009

Hi!

I have recently applied for a job offer, and the translation agency (based in UK) has sent me a contract I should sign before starting working for them. I have never worked for a translation agency before, and I wonder whether this clause regarding copyrights is normal.

"The Translator accepts that the author of the original text shall be the exclusive owner of the translated work and that the text and other documents shall not be used in any circumstances other than those previously agreed without specific authorisation."

Many thanks in advance!

Montse


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:08
Member (2008)
French to English
Normal clause, I believe Oct 9, 2009

I think its quite normal. The translator is performing a service, not originating the work.

[Edited at 2009-10-09 19:47 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:08
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
This is not a copyright clause Oct 9, 2009

Montse Ballesteros wrote:
"The Translator accepts that the author of the original text shall be the exclusive owner of the translated work and that the text and other documents shall not be used in any circumstances other than those previously agreed without specific authorisation."


Even without this clause in a contract I always assume that this is what I grant the client anyway, unless it is a literary text. What the client wants is an unrestricted unlimited license to use your translation without paying any further royalties, and he doesn't want you to make use of the translation without his consent. This is normal.

By the way, there is a difference between ownership and copyright. If I do a translation and hand it to you, and don't keep any copies myself, then you are the owner of the translation, but I'm still the copyright holder, even though I don't have a copy of it.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:08
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, it is quite normal Oct 10, 2009

Some time ago, when translating a manual of obstetrics for a medical publishing company, I had to sign a contract with a similar clause. It is a pretty standard format for this type of contract these days... Have a nice weekend!

Teresa


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Montse Ballesteros  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
still a bit confused about ownership and copyright Oct 10, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
By the way, there is a difference between ownership and copyright. If I do a translation and hand it to you, and don't keep any copies myself, then you are the owner of the translation, but I'm still the copyright holder, even though I don't have a copy of it.


That's what's a bit confusing. I had literary translations in mind, where the translator "usually" is the copyright holder of the translated work. So you mean that even if they are the "exclusive owners" of the translated work, I still hold the copyrights?

Thanks everyone for your posts and have a nice weekend!

Montse


[Edited at 2009-10-10 11:43 GMT]


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Bryan Crumpler  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:08
Dutch to English
+ ...
Strike it through! Don't write off your rights Oct 20, 2009

Montse Ballesteros wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:
By the way, there is a difference between ownership and copyright. If I do a translation and hand it to you, and don't keep any copies myself, then you are the owner of the translation, but I'm still the copyright holder, even though I don't have a copy of it.


That's what's a bit confusing. I had literary translations in mind, where the translator "usually" is the copyright holder of the translated work. So you mean that even if they are the "exclusive owners" of the translated work, I still hold the copyrights?

Thanks everyone for your posts and have a nice weekend!

Montse


[Edited at 2009-10-10 11:43 GMT]



I personally would strike through this clause in the contract before signing and returning it if you feel like the translation quality that you offer has some type of aesthetic or non-literal quality to it. Any translation where you exercise scholarly judgment, or aspect of creativity, and can justify how your literary choices deviate from the common, everyday literal translation of any portion of the work should remain your intellectual property. And you should retain joint copyright ownership in the translated work without question. Signing a clause like this will complicate matters in the event - for example - you provide a translation, and the translation is used unlawfully (i.e. publication, distribution, resale etc). You should never sign these rights away without a fight (i.e. state to them that you would necessarily have to increase your rate on projects offered to you if required to sign away these rights).


[Edited at 2009-10-20 09:43 GMT]


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Copyright clause in translator contract

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