Copyright protected translations
Thread poster: Rossitsa Iordanova

Rossitsa Iordanova
Belgium
Local time: 01:05
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
May 17, 2005

I am very much interested to learn more about how copyrights over translation are observed in various countries, especially within the EU.

In our national Copyrights Protection Law there is a certain Art.9 stating that the person who has done the translation of a certain written material has all the rights over his/her translation, this of course, without impeding others to translate/render again the same text.

Is there a particular provision in some EU Law/Act dealing with this issue?

And ... in general, which translations may BE considered as subject to copyright protection, and which - not?

How to control the theft (Oh! I know it's an ugly word, but it is exact!) of translation?

Thank you all in advance for your opinions!

Cheers!
Ross


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Christopher RH
Local time: 01:05
French to English
copyright "technically" absent May 17, 2005

Good question, and one I have often asked myself.
My understanding is that a "technical" translation cannot be copyrighted. I don't know exactly how far this extends.

I have, however, "caught" agencies reusing my translations, and I suspect they all do. Since then I have put an invisible copyright "marker" on all translations that could conceivably be reused, but I have no idea how effective it might be.


To answer your question, though:

Literary translations are certainly covered by copyright in France;
Purely technical translations are not covered by copyright in France.

Between the two, I have no real clue!


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:05
German to English
Translation is generally "work for hire" May 17, 2005

Under the copyright statutes of many, if not most countries, the purchaser of the translation assumes the copyright upon payment. Thus, if you translate a repair manual for DaimlerChrysler, DCX can use your translation as many times as they like. If they obtained only one-time use, they'd have to pay the original translators for every revision of a translated manual, for example, even if only a few specifications were changed.

Unless you have a special agreement with your client, the work belongs to him/her upon payment, and can be reused any number of times.


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 17:05
English
USA: usually "Work for Hire" May 17, 2005

What I have seen in the USA for business translating is that the translator signs a "work for hire" agreement that assigns any copyright to the company that does the hiring.


When I was arranging translations for one company, a few of the translators wanted contracts that gave them the right to control our re-use of the translated text. We didn't want the nuisance of having to find them and negotiate the re-use of text from a user manual to a product brochure.


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Rossitsa Iordanova
Belgium
Local time: 01:05
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
copyrights May 18, 2005

Oh, I see ....
True and ... sad, isn't it!

There is much reason in what you're saying - reason from the p.o.v. of the client, of course.
Though I am thnking that our work is no less creative than say that of the writer of a manual, or of a contract, or of a book etc.

But then if 'authors' receive royalties at selling the Manual/book etc., why can't the translator be rewarded in a respective manner?

Or in "simpler" cases like say a lawyer prepares a contract which is 'standard', but each new client pays to have it. So he gets the contract, plus its according translation - paying for it at that, too, yet the fee for the translation never gets to the translator who has translated this 'standard' document.

Who has rights over what?


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:05
German to English
Not just translations May 18, 2005

Any written work performed on behalf of and paid for by another company becomes the property of that company. A number of years ago, as a contract employee of "Mom & Pop Writing Shop" (all names changed), I wrote a series of robotics manuals commissioned by the XYZ Robotics Co. When the manuals were finally published, the copyright stated (c) (year) XYZ Robotics Co. They bought all rights to the manuals. The manuals went through a couple of editions (reflecting revisions in the equipment). "Mom & Pop" were paid once (the company did its own revisions), as was I.

The difference would be if, for example, I were to write a manual *independently* which was published by a publishing/printing company (that is, I was the author, and had a publication contract with the printing company, no transfer of rights involved). In this case, I wouldn't sell the rights to the manual, since I would hope to get rich through the sales of the book to the general public.

But if, for example, I were to decide to publish my manual in Bulgaria, I would hire a translator to translate it. A smart translator in this case might only want to sell first publication rights, that is, rights to the initial publication or use. If the manual were so successful in Bulgaria that it went to multimedia, I would have to compensate the translator for this different use. On the other hand, I would attempt to purchase all rights, and in all likelihood, the translator would sell these rights, since it would be highly unlikely that the book would go to multimedia. If the translator offered to sell only first rights, I would negotiate a lower rate, since I wouldn't want to pay the translator twice for the same work. I suspect in this instance the translator would sell all rights, since the likelihood of going into multimedia would be unlikely.

Unless you're doing literary translation, I might suggest you give no thought to copyright, etc. Once you complete a job, don't worry about what happens to it; you'll more profitably spend your time looking for the next job.


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 17:05
English
I agree: it's not deathless prose May 20, 2005

Kevin Fulton wrote:

Unless you're doing literary translation, I might suggest you give no thought to copyright, etc. Once you complete a job, don't worry about what happens to it; you'll more profitably spend your time looking for the next job.


I agree. Cash the check and move on. Be sure to charge enough that you don't have to worry about enforcing any "first publication" clauses or checking for possible infringment. When I consider the piles of pages I've produced, it would take a full-time effort to track who was re-using text they weren't supposed to.


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Rossitsa Iordanova
Belgium
Local time: 01:05
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It seems so... May 21, 2005

Well, it seems you're right about it ...

I still don't like it, but ... this is the situation, isn't it!

Thank you ALL for your valuable opinions!!!


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