Authors\' Moral Rights - Austrian Supreme Court
Thread poster: Lia Fail (X)

Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
Apr 11, 2002

Supreme Court ruling on authors\' moral rights for translators -

please disseminate

For further information please contact or (do not reply to sender).

The Austrian Association of Literary Translators

(Uebersetzergemeinschaft)issued a press release today, the gist of which

Werner Richter has meanwhile translated into English for your


David wins against Goliath -- Austrian Supreme Court ruling on authors\'moral

right for translators

The Austrian Supreme Court recently published a final ruling in a copyright

case that had gone on since 1999. According to this decision, it is unlawful

to quote from literary translations without naming the author of that

translation, i.e. the translator. In the case in point, it was the Austrian

state-owned broadcasting company (ORF), but the ruling will have

repercussions on the presence of translated literature in all the media, at

least in Austria, since omitting translator\' names -- which has been

unfortunately a frequent neglect in so many literary reviews and feature

articles about authors -- might now have legal consequences in whatever the


In 1999, translator Werner Richter switched on the Austrian radio to listen

to a literary feature about \"his\" author, US writer T. Coraghessan

Boyle,which was 44 minutes long, including several longish music

\"interludes\", with a total of 12 minutes of quotations from two of his

translations, without the radio station bothering to give his name, at least

in the final credits -- where everybody is usually named: narrators,

producers, technicians etc.

The radio station denied any obligation to have mentioned the translator\'s

name, and because of the obvious infringement of his author\'s moral right,

his association decided to make it a case of precedence, therefore

supporting him in a lawsuit. The case went through all the courts, and

already the second court suggested a supreme-court ruling in order to have

the status and the moral rights of literary translators decided upon once

and for all.

The Supreme Court ruling (GzOGH 29.1.2002, 4Ob293/01v) states that all the

-- rather nebulous -- objections made by the ORF lawyers over the course of

the lawsuit are without any substance, and that Werner Richter should indeed

have been named as an author/copyright holder in the broadcast programme in


This might be a major precedent, for at least in Austria, every translator

whose work is quoted in the media even in small parts can now refer to this

court decision. We are quite confident that the respect it expresses with

regard to our creative work will have a long-awaited positive effect on

journalists and authors writing or reporting about translated literature in

the Austrian media, although we must say that we consider it somewhat

astonishing that it was necessary to wave such a big legal stick at ll in

order to enforce mentioning the name of the translator whose creative work

was used by somebody else for their own creative purposes. We should have

thought this to be a mere question of respect among colleagues.

For the time being, this ruling is of course of purely national value for

our profession in Austria, since copyright law is different in every

country. (And for what it\'s worth, the text of the decision -- which can be

obtained by fax through our office -- makes explicit mention of the relevant

German law under which the case would have had a different outcome.)

Nevertheless, it is good news and a positive development for the status of

our profession worldwide. And after all, progress in these matters often

consists in having the national legislation follow a good example from

somewhere else!

In two words: I won!

objection overruled

Werner Richter

Brigitte Rapp



Seidengasse 13, A-1070 Wien

Tel:+43-1/526 20 44-52

Fax: 524 64 35 or 526 20 44 30


3 in 1
Local time: 06:33
French to German
+ ...
Congratulations & ORF Apr 11, 2002

Congratulations, Werner!

I just would like to illustrate by another example that ORF does what he wants and doesn\'t respect the rights of anybody. About ten years ago, some of my friends and me did some traditional music recordings for them (Zither) for a television program.

They have been using one of the recordings daily, for two years (!), as a kind of \"background noise\" for another program. They NEVER gave our name.

Now they continue playing our recordings on television and on the radio, they have even put them on several CDs, without asking us - I would not have had to mention, I guess.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-04-11 20:53 ]


Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 00:33
German to English
+ ...
Off-topic: ORF Apr 11, 2002

ORF gives all broadcasters a bad name. Frankly, even Russia has had more liberalization in TV over the last 10 years than Austria.


Be that as it may, this ruling is, indeed, good news - and I hope that ORF will be forced to pay a hefty amount of money!


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Authors\' Moral Rights - Austrian Supreme Court

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