Copyright Issues? Book translation - Indirect client
Thread poster: Gabriela Castro

Gabriela Castro  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 11:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 3, 2010

Hi all -

Thanks for any contributions to this post!

I went through some ProZ's previous post on translating books and still have a couple of questions. Hope someone can help out here!

This week I was offered to translate 3 books (on legal view points of a specific country). I am meeting with my client (not the authors at all) to touch basis on the project later on this week and by now I know the books are hard copy. Another aspect to consider when quoting!

I also know I won't make a living out of this project and that I should negotiate the payments well enough not to suffer through the whole process!

QUESTION:

Each book is around 300 pages long and after an online research I found out the authors are still alive and the books were published within the past 10 years. Possible copyright conflicts, I assume!

Residing at a Latin American country where copyright rules are treated differently (not punished in the same way) I still want to act responsibly and respect copyright.

Is it my job to contact the authors after my direct requestor mentioned the translated books will not be used for publication but for national academic purposes? If so, how can I make sure I do not get into a legal problem if the direct requestor decides otherwise after the final translation is handed in?

Best to all!!!!!

Gaby


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Lizette Britz  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:50
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
ALTA Feb 3, 2010

Hi Gaby,

I read something about book copyright in another portal, they have a very long thread about the subject. They were saying that the person that wants to translate the book should contact with the author to secure the translation rights for that language. In your case I suppose that it would be your client the one that should get the rights. And then I think that you should get some type of copyright on your translation, since it will be published.

Perhaps ALTA can help you.

Liz


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inmb  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:50
English to Polish
+ ...
look at your contract Feb 3, 2010

Hello Gabriela

Yes, you are right that the copyright, in most of the jurisdictions, is vested in the authors or their successors. It is however a very common practice that such rights are transferred and assigned to publishers (that's how publishing industry works). Publishers than have the right to commission translation of the book.

When you look at you contract or draft contract, someone who orders translation, should represent that they have all rights, power and authority to do so. It is usually to be found in the preamble / recitals.

If you have any doubts, you can ask them to include it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:50
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some laymen's comments Feb 3, 2010

Gabriela Castro wrote:
Each book is around 300 pages long and after an online research I found out the authors are still alive and the books were published within the past 10 years. Possible copyright conflicts, I assume!


Not necessarily. If the authors had given the client permission to have the translations done, then it should be fine. Or if the client has no intention of distributing the translation, then it could also be fine, depending on your country's copyright laws about what is regarded as personal use.

Is it my job to contact the authors after my direct requestor mentioned the translated books will not be used for publication but for national academic purposes?


1. It doesn't make the breach of copyright any less serious if books are copied or pirate-translated for *academic purposes* instead of commercial purposes. Well, that is my opinion, but I understand that the laws are slightly different in some countries, where the authorities tend to turn a blind eye if it is "educational".

2. It is not your job to contact the original authors to get permission to translate it. It is the client's job.

3. It may in fact be breach of confidentiality and of the non-disclosure agreement if you contact the original authors, telling them about the translation being done. If the authors had given a liberal license to some publisher, and he had given permission for the translation to be done, then it may not be any of the original authors' business to know that a translation is being prepared.

If so, how can I make sure I do not get into a legal problem if the direct requestor decides otherwise after the final translation is handed in?


If the client lies to you about his intentions with the translation, it is important that you are able to show that you were not aware or did not have reason to suspect that he was likely to break the law. So I think the best thing is to ask the client specifically (a) if he has permission from the copyright holder to have the translation done, and if not, then (b) what he intends to do with the translation. If he has no permission and he intends to distribute the translation (even for free), then you should walk away. Oh, and make sure you get the client's answer in writing.



[Edited at 2010-02-03 10:17 GMT]


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Catriona Thomas
Local time: 18:50
German to English
Translation Rights and Your Rights as a Translator Feb 3, 2010

I am basing these remarks on the book "Clark's Publishing Agreements" which was devised and originally compiled by a recognized UK copyright expert - who also happened to be my father.

The publisher definitely has to warrant in the contract with you (the translator) that he holds the translation rights for whatever language into which you will be translating. "It is the publishers' responsibility to check very carefully the extent of the translation rights they hold, and to draft contracts accordingly."

You then hold the copyright in the translation you prepare and will usually undertake in the translator's agreement to grant a license to the publisher for publication of the translation. You will also undertake to provide ... copies of the translation to the publisher. The publisher should agree not to make any alterations to your translation without your prior consent.

There are various other issues such as remuneration and best-seller clauses, but the latter might not be relevant in the present case. The remuneration should definitely be reasonable so that you don't make a loss. You might want to include a clause that triggers additional remuneration if the publisher subsequently changes the use he makes of your translation.

Best regards,
Catriona Thomas


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