Client published editor-botched translations with my name - how to handle?
Thread poster: xxxGrayson Morr
xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:22
Dutch to English
Nov 19, 2009

A few years ago, I translated four instructional books for a client over a period of three years. The translations were subsequently published in the target country, listing me as translator. So far so good. Somewhere between book one and book three, however, the client enlisted his webmaster, who happened to be a native speaker of the target language, to play "editor." This person introduced egregious errors into my translations--which I didn't discover until I was sent a copy of the published book three, as I was neither informed about the "editing" nor given the opportunity to proof the final result.

(By "egregious," I mean things like turning "X affects Y" into "Y is effected by X." Yes. Effected. Gah! Not to mention the primal editing no-no of randomly rewriting an author's sentences to suit oneself.)

After I discovered this, I discussed it with the client...who continued to use the webmaster to "edit" his translations. Perhaps the webmaster now performs the client's translations; I no longer do. But my name is still on those first four books. And therein lies my dilemma. It vexes me to no end that people pick up those books, read the error-ridden prose there, and flip to the front of the book to see what idiot is responsible. I have learned to live with that personal sense of injury, but suppose potential clients pick up those books...they are a terrible and inaccurate representation of my skills as a translator.

Would you simply omit mention of this former client in your CV, on your website, and so forth? Or would you head off disaster at the pass by explaining the situation in your CV et al?

Thanks for your insights.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 17:22
Russian to English
+ ...
I sympathize fully Nov 19, 2009

but you probably have no recourse short of suing the client and winning a ruling to make him withdraw the faulty translation altogether or remove your name from it. It definitely makes no sense mentioning this in your CV - most people probably never heard of those books anyway, so why rub it in? I'd just move on and spare myself the aggravation. What are you going to do, fight every nincompoop you come across?

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Anna Haxen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:22
Member (2005)
English to Danish
+ ...
Copyright? Nov 20, 2009

Did you sign a contract, and do you own the copyright to these books? I don't know what the rules are where you live, but if you did and you do, you probably have a case. If you're a member of a translators' association, they may be able to help.

Direct link Reply with quote
 
Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:22
French to English
Website Nov 20, 2009

Grayson Morris wrote:
Would you simply omit mention of this former client in your CV, on your website, and so forth? Or would you head off disaster at the pass by explaining the situation in your CV et al?

I would omit it from my CV, but I think I might be tempted to have a discreet link on my website called "A word about xxxx books" or something along those lines, and then put a relatively full explanation. Apart from (perhaps) being accessible to people who search for you + the book titles, you can also point people to it in the event you are ever asked about it directly (e.g. by a potential client who is having doubts), it will be prepared in advance which will show you are aware of the possible damage, and save you time repeating yourself


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:22
Dutch to English
TOPIC STARTER
Pros outweigh the cons for the otherwise ignorant? Nov 20, 2009

Thanks for your responses. Let me apologize in advance for the verbosity they've unleashed.

The Misha and Anna, I don't feel the need to take legal action on this, though I have considered asking the client to take my name off future reprints. But (as I see it) the damage is done; there are thousands of hardcopies floating around with my name on them, and nothing I do will change that. So I've decided to just let it go. My remaining concern is how to minimize impact on future clients (and anyone else who views both the books and my website / CV).

The Misha, you're probably right that most clients won't ever stumble across these books, in which case remaining mum is a good strategy.

Charlie, I like your idea. Somehow, I just really, really want the translating world (and, actually, the entire world) to know that I am not the idiot responsible for the errors that bear my name. I suddenly wonder, however, whether it's kosher to put my disclaimer on the Web...would my ex-client take umbrage and, more importantly, take legal action against me? I suppose that has much to do with the wording I use. I'll need to keep it factual, and leave out the apoplexy.

For people who find the books independently of my disclaimer, it can only help. But many people who would otherwise have remained blissfully ignorant will suddenly read my (calm) protestations and then go rushing to find the books, and, having done so, conclude that they are indeed awful. The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is, does this work for me (wow, she must be really good, and a perfectionist) or against me (she says it's not her fault, but her name is on it...at least some of the horror must be hers)?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:22
French to English
Indeed Nov 20, 2009

I do see the point - it's a bit like when books/records/films get banned with a big fanfare, often they become much more popular than they would have been if the powers that be had just ignored them. Big banners (say) on your website would just draw unwanted attention.

On the other hand, you do need to make sure that those who need to know, know, and that they know you know, while keeping those who don't know and don't need to know in their current state of unknowing.

My suggestion is, I think, a happy medium, but others may have better ideas.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:22
Italian to English
+ ...
I agree with Charlie's suggestion Nov 20, 2009

I don't think it would be counterproductive. I doubt anyone would think you'd go to the trouble of disassociating yourself from your work if it really was yours: if you were responsible for the errors in the first place, then presumably you would still be in blissful ignorance.

You would definitely need to word your disclaimer very carefully, but a simple note to the effect that you have asked for your name to be removed from future editions and wish to disassociate yourself from the work because the text was amended by third parties without your knowledge or input after your final proofreading ought to be fine. I'd avoid any mention of errors: it's obvious that you wouldn't make such a statement if the amendments had improved on your own work!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:22
French to German
+ ...
Your proof Nov 20, 2009

Grayson Morris wrote:


Charlie, I like your idea. Somehow, I just really, really want the translating world (and, actually, the entire world) to know that I am not the idiot responsible for the errors that bear my name. I suddenly wonder, however, whether it's kosher to put my disclaimer on the Web...would my ex-client take umbrage and, more importantly, take legal action against me? I suppose that has much to do with the wording I use. I'll need to keep it factual, and leave out the apoplexy.


I assume that you still have your original translations: they are the best proof that you did your job correctly and that you cannot be held liable for what happened between the delivery of your translation and the publishing of the book.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
OFF TOPIC - but a good idea - and then on the subject again! Nov 20, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:
I might be tempted to have a {discreet} link on my website...
... and then put a relatively full explanation.
... it will be prepared in advance
... and save you time repeating yourself


When I read this, it completed the insight on how my web site came to be.

I see many translators whose web sites or web pages have little, if anything, other than their language pair(s) and contact information. Sometimes they have an online CV, eventually listing all courses they ever took in their lives, cookware hand-scrubbing efficiency improvement and similar subjects included.

Haven't they got anything else to say?

I had. Over and over again I had to explain to prospect/clients the differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese, why they had to select one variant, and why I could only serve them into the former. This turned into http://tinyurl.com/yaz3oz2 (now also at http://tinyurl.com/yz39nmx )

Then I had to answer countless questions on sworn translations in Brazil. This was irrelevant to the whole Proz community. So I built a pagelet (now its English version being at http://tinyurl.com/yfous73 ), and then another pagelet on another issue, and one more...

Whenever I received a trite (for me) question, I'd give the asker a link.

I ended up with maybe a dozen web pagelets, each containing a set of frequent answers and explanations I had to write over and over again to clients and prospects. Finally, I found adequate software, and built a complete web site.

So the suggestion is... if you have to answer the same questions, or provide the same explanations, over and over again, set up a web site, and just give askers the links. It'll save you a lot of time.


Back to the case at hand... as it was some foul play butchering your correct translation and keeping your name under it, they can't condemn you for exposing that on your web site. You could present a side-by-side comparison of your translation and what was eventually published by them. Let the public judge.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:22
Dutch to English
TOPIC STARTER
Disclaimer is written! Nov 21, 2009

I've posted my disclaimer in a footer link (titled "disclaimer") on my website. Thank you all for the brainstorming - in the process of writing the disclaimer after digesting all your comments, I hit upon a non-client-specific formulation with which I'm very pleased.

Because only people who can read English will ever be able to recoil in horror at the mangled translations, I've opted not to have the document translated into Dutch; moreover, my Dutch clients are generally proficient in English, and in reading the English disclaimer they get an immediate taste of how I really write the target language for their translations.

Marie-Hélène, your sample wording propelled me into writing the disclaimer immediately after reading your post; thank you for giving me a starting place.

Laurent, you're absolutely right! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks for reminding me I have concrete evidence of the massacre.

José, kindred spirit! I am often asked to translate into British English, and I always say no. Most people think I'm turning a molehill distinction into a mountainous one. How hard can it be, they reason? For a one-liner or a paragraph, not that hard...but in longer texts, I tell them, there will always be something that exposes me as a non-Brit. I know about colour and humour, lifts and queues, that periods and commas go outside the (single!) closing quotation mark rather than inside - but what don't I know? And while an Americanism or two is hardly a natural disaster, it does yank the reader right out of the text.



[Edited at 2009-11-21 09:35 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:22
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Berne Convention Nov 23, 2009

The preamble of the PEN model contract contains a part that applies very well to your situation:
[The Berne Convention] generally gives legal protection to the "moral rights" of authors (or droit moral as it is sometimes referred to), requiring that they receive proper credit for their efforts (the "paternity right") and that their creations not be distorted, mutilated, or modified in a manner that "would be prejudicial to [the author's] honor or reputation" (the "integrity right").


The full text of the Berne Convention is available here.

So, if your translation was published in the US, I would get back to the publisher, citing the Berne Convention, providing examples of how your moral rights were not respected, and then explaining how this affects your reputation.

To start with: rates applied to publishers are very often considerably lower than rates for other clients. (This lower rate can be traced back to multiple factors – including the fact that, contrary to a user manual, which is a secondary component of the main product to be sold, the text translated for a publisher is the very product to be sold.) Many translators accept working for lower rates because a published translation is an excellent reference: you can showcase your skills without being restricted by an NDA. In your case, the published translation is a horribly bad advertisement.

I would then add that I was open to any negotiation of compensation for this – returning the ball to their court. I would possibly add something like "Since you may not have been in a similar situation quite often, seeking input from PEN may be useful for both sides."

If the book was published in another country, check whether a similar convention exists. Making reference to it will give quite some emphasis to your argument.

Kind regards,
Attila


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:22
Dutch to English
TOPIC STARTER
Great ammunition for future projects Nov 23, 2009

Attila, many thanks for the information. I don't want to get into a legal fracas with the original client, but this is excellent to know for future assignments. You've motivated me to write up a short form based on this for future clients to sign.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Client published editor-botched translations with my name - how to handle?

Advanced search







TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search