https://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/202027-delivery_to_agencies_of_clean_unclean_and_tm_files.html

Delivery to agencies of clean, unclean, and TM files
Thread poster: Penelope Cumler

Penelope Cumler
Germany
Local time: 13:59
Member
German to English
Jun 27, 2011

I'll try to make this short, but be warned that I may get a bit carried away.

I ended up in a bit of a tiff with a woman at an agency for whom I have done quite a bit of work.

She had always insisted I deliver the "clean, uncleaned, and TM" files, and as I had told her, I don't use Trados entirely (because it is too complicated, I am too busy to learn it all, and the documentation sucks). So I have always just sent her the original file, the final bilingual file, and t
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I'll try to make this short, but be warned that I may get a bit carried away.

I ended up in a bit of a tiff with a woman at an agency for whom I have done quite a bit of work.

She had always insisted I deliver the "clean, uncleaned, and TM" files, and as I had told her, I don't use Trados entirely (because it is too complicated, I am too busy to learn it all, and the documentation sucks). So I have always just sent her the original file, the final bilingual file, and the exported TM, as well as the original format translation. I didn't really know what she was talking about, frankly, as I am not that familiar with Trados, which I again told her.

So on this last delivery, I actually had everything in order but as she had sent me parts of the original in Word and later parts in a .pdf, expecting me to integrate the whole thing, I just sent back the bilingual file so she could do this herself. (The agency pays, but not much, and I wasn't going to spend my time merging files and such.)

After completing the translation, which I knew was good, I waited about an hour and never heard from her. So I turned off my phone and spent the evening with my son.

The next day I had angry emails and calls from her claiming I had not done the translation and the files I sent were empty.

After much screaming at each other down the phone (not something I am particularly proud of), I walked her through the files I had sent and showed her the translation, easy to open and save in whatever format she liked. As it turned out, she did not have translation software and didn't know how to find the translation. She yelled at me for not knowing what "clean, uncleaned, and TM" files were (I didn't have the same definition she had for this, thinking she wanted the bilingual files) and for not being available after 5pm. And I repeatedly asked her why she kept insisting on my translation files when she didn't even know how to open them. (We went several times around on these and other issues, but sticking to the theme...) As it turned out she (the agency) simply takes all these files and archives them for their own further use.

The more I thought about this, the more I didn't like this idea. Those files, I feel, are proprietary, and I am the rightful proprietor, who, if I were dealing directly with a client or company, would be happy to include my work in the delivery, especially if we were cutting out the agency/middle person and they were paying me more.

We calmed down and made concessions and apologies all around, but the issue of these files got me thinking. I haven't been formally translating long but when I shortly tried a bit of it years back there were few protections in place for individual translators and agencies had free reign. I'm happy the playing field seems to have improved, but I am wondering if we might be undermining our position and future.

Comments welcomed.
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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
My POV Jun 28, 2011

1) clean = clean target; bilingual = workfile (ttx or bilingual doc in case of SDL 2007); TM = best to send TMX export

2) if you deliver bilingual files, they can easily create TMX from it

3) whether the agency/you has/have the right to TM or not, depends on terms of your agreement

4) no point in doing free work - DTP if they're paying only for translation

5) if there are no large amounts of money, then no point in working with people with whom
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1) clean = clean target; bilingual = workfile (ttx or bilingual doc in case of SDL 2007); TM = best to send TMX export

2) if you deliver bilingual files, they can easily create TMX from it

3) whether the agency/you has/have the right to TM or not, depends on terms of your agreement

4) no point in doing free work - DTP if they're paying only for translation

5) if there are no large amounts of money, then no point in working with people with whom your personalities don't work that well
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Hazel Underwood  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:59
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Not very professional Jun 28, 2011

Doesn't sound like a very professional agency based on my experience. Project Managers should know all of that stuff back to front and be able to deal with any files types.

In terms of ownership though, most agencies state in their T&Cs that the TM is their property if they ask you to use translation software.

Just be sure that whatever you send them back only has work for them in it, not any of your own personal stuff you might have used for reference.

Hop
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Doesn't sound like a very professional agency based on my experience. Project Managers should know all of that stuff back to front and be able to deal with any files types.

In terms of ownership though, most agencies state in their T&Cs that the TM is their property if they ask you to use translation software.

Just be sure that whatever you send them back only has work for them in it, not any of your own personal stuff you might have used for reference.

Hope that helps!
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Ines Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:59
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
About the TM copyrights Jun 28, 2011

This is a very complicated issue which so far has been usually solved by the position of power - the agencies have the power, they own the TMs. In theory, once they have paid you, you surrender the copyrights to your translation. However,TM is an entirely different matter because, even though it contains your translation, it also contains the end client's source text and I doubt they have signed away their rights to it. I would not be surprised to find out that majority of end clients have no id... See more
This is a very complicated issue which so far has been usually solved by the position of power - the agencies have the power, they own the TMs. In theory, once they have paid you, you surrender the copyrights to your translation. However,TM is an entirely different matter because, even though it contains your translation, it also contains the end client's source text and I doubt they have signed away their rights to it. I would not be surprised to find out that majority of end clients have no idea that their source text is being used this way. Having said that, unless you make sure you never deliver unclean files (which would mean not working with a whole bunch of agencies), there is not much you can do to prevent agencies from reusing your work, if you are not willing to get involved in a lengthy test case.Collapse


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
Photography - the analogy Jun 28, 2011

I often use the photography x translation analogy to illustrate some common points. Just as you can hire a professional photographer for your wedding, you can call your neighbor's nephew who just bought a wonderful, full-featured camera to take a bunch of snapshots. Both professions are fully deregulated, and many amateurs can wing them.

Photography has evolved faster than translation in the past few decades. Just before moving from film to digital, some professional cameras had a v
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I often use the photography x translation analogy to illustrate some common points. Just as you can hire a professional photographer for your wedding, you can call your neighbor's nephew who just bought a wonderful, full-featured camera to take a bunch of snapshots. Both professions are fully deregulated, and many amateurs can wing them.

Photography has evolved faster than translation in the past few decades. Just before moving from film to digital, some professional cameras had a very high level of automation, enabling anyone to bypass all those speed and f-stop numbers, as well as focusing, if they wanted: pressing the shutter button was all that was needed.

Your case here takes the analogy one step further. For a moment, forget digital, and think about film-based photography. Would a wedding, graduation, whatever... professional photographer give you the negatives? Most likely not! They'd rather sell you prints, as you order them. In my days, the best color lab in town gave me 30% discount on their OTC prices, just for being a pro. And holding the negs, I could top that price with some extra, and still offer the prints at the same price of a smaller lab or a mere outpost.

Nevertheless, the client could have some enlargements re-shot and get negatives from them, with some loss in quality, of course. This is equivalent to reusing your TMs, or aligning your translation with the source text.

If someone is using a Hasselblad, this gives no clue on whether that person is a professional potographer or a wealthy amateur. This can be said about Trados as well. A bad translator won't improve their quality by merely buying Trados (neither a bad photographer by buying a Hasselblad).

So chances are that PM was merely following what she read or saw somewhere, without any clear idea on what she'd do with all these files.
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