Sample translations: what source documents are legit?
Thread poster: Pedro Godfroid

Pedro Godfroid
Local time: 02:46
English to French
+ ...
Mar 16, 2012

I want to put some sample translations but I do not want to run into copyright problem over the source so I want to know what's legit to translate as a sample translation and what's not. I've already added a couple of translations but these are from long-dead poets so no copyrights problems. But now I want to translate some materials in the IT field and all this stuff I find is very much copyrighted. I think even Open Source could be problematic as it's using it in one's benefit.

Can anybody advise me on that?

Tx and bye.

Pedro Godfroid Goffin


Agnes Lenkey  Identity Verified
German to Spanish
+ ...
Possible solutions Mar 16, 2012

Dear Pedro,

I don't know how it is exactly in the IT-field, but I use these options if I need a sample in the legal/technical area:

1. General text:
I take a text which might have been written by any Notary Public, because some are very-very similar, if you leave out sensitive data no one would know exactly whose text it originally was.

2. Already published text from a source/a company that I really know/have worked for
For example a published shipyard manual, or a company brochure, if I know very well the company directors who own these texts. If they are already circulating in public and I consider that nobody would protest, I use them. If I think it could arise any problems, I naturally ask for their permission first. This can be done anyway (and always), I think. Sometimes I ask for the author's permission in an e-mail and if I have a positive written answer, that should be enough, I suppose.

3. Source text which I was not paid for
If I was cheated on a translation and was not able to get my payment (and know for sure chances are 0% that I will, because it is a “well-known” fraud that I have been falling to), I really don’t care. If they protest, better, this would mean I will get paid! Sensitive data removed anyway. icon_smile.gif

These are not very “scientific” or official methods, but these are the ones I use!

Best regards,



Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:46
Member (2007)
+ ...
You're not selling a sample Mar 16, 2012

Pedro Godfroid wrote:
now I want to translate some materials in the IT field and all this stuff I find is very much copyrighted. I think even Open Source could be problematic as it's using it in one's benefit.

I believe "benefit" is interpreted as making money out of the product. I doubt that marketing yourself by posting a translation of some text could be classed as benefit. Could you contact them? I doubt they'd bother to object.

However, you're right to worry and you should make sure that it can't be easily identified as belonging to A or B. Client confidentiality is a very important factor in our business so you have to be seen to be careful from the outset.



Phil Hand  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:46
Chinese to English
I sometimes use abstracts from academic literature Mar 17, 2012

And I've never been asked to take down. You can show off your terminology that way. But they're not easy - sometimes you have to read the whole paper to get it right.


Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:46
French to English
+ ...
@Agnes Mar 17, 2012

Agnes -- just be aware that "don't think anyone would mind if I rip it off" isn't the same as owning the copyright to something...


Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:46
English to Spanish
Creative Commons Mar 18, 2012

Just head over to and search for content ("Find Licenced Content") that allows you to create derivative works; as long as you attribute the original content to the license holder, you can even use it commercially (depending on the type of CC license chosen by the creator).

You can use this search filter for popular sites or just plain Google, and there's a wealth of appropriate material out there...

I'm always puzzled by the fact that the translator community knows so little about copyrighting in general, considering we make a living out of it. Spread the word people! (and license your works)!


Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
What are good documents to use as sample translations? May 30, 2012

I am looking for advice on sample translations.

So can anyone please tell me what the best kind of documents to use as samples are? I am new to and I still haven't added any samples to my profile but I need to do that soon.

I am assuming that legal translations would be unacceptable to add to my profile because they may be strictly confidential. Am I correct in this assumption?

If something that I have translated has already been published on the Internet (like news stories and company websites) am I safe to use these or parts of these translations as samples?

How long do you usually make your samples? Do you find that having the sample translations has helped you find more clients at

Thanks everyone,


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Sample translations: what source documents are legit?

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