Is it legal to translate a book which was published in a country which does not have copyright laws
Thread poster: newuser2013
Mar 25, 2013

Hello everyone

I found a Persian book published in Iran about 8 years ago which I really liked.
since Iran did not sign the "Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works" and has no copyright protected laws, is it okay to translate the book to English without permission from the author or publisher ?

Quick facts :
- The book is written in Persian and was published in Iran about 8 years ago
- Iran did not sign "Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works"
- Iran is not a member of "Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights"
- There is no specific copyright law in Iran regarding translating and other related fields

I have no plan for publishing this book on a PRINT format , but possibly as an e-book. And I have no plan to get rich out of thisicon_wink.gif just thought people might enjoy reading it.

[Edited at 2013-03-25 14:08 GMT]


David Wright  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:29
German to English
+ ...
Are you sure that Iran has no copyright law? Mar 25, 2013

see: for instance

which has been amended and extended under the present regime.

Membership of the Berne Convention would only grant copyright to foreign works in Iran,

Works published in Iran do not enjoy copyright in the USA. That would also seem to apply to other countries. So in theory you could translate and publish, exploiting the current international pariah status of Iran - an approach which some might think is morally reprehensible. However, why not contact the author, he may well be very happy to let you translate it.


I have never been in Iran so I am not sure about their copyright laws... Mar 25, 2013

I have never been in Iran so I am not sure about their copyright laws, but I read an article on The Guardian a few years ago about translating Harry Potter to Persian in 19 different versions without the permission of author. The Guardian mentioned that this was due to lack of copyright laws in Iran.

also finding an author who is ~ 70 years old and living in Iran is very difficult, I do not have the resources to contact the author or to look for him.

I am just concern that if I translate this book, it might be some how illegal but not really sure about the situation.


Steven Segaert
Local time: 15:29
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Presume there is a copyright Mar 25, 2013

I think you should start from the presumption that something is protected by copyright - whether or not you understand under what law it exists, or think you can get away with violating it.

Allow me to say that you are also a bit quick to assume that there is no copyright in Iran. As you surely know, it is a country with a rich history and a rich (literary) tradition, and whatever one may think of the current regime there, there is no reason to think that there would be no laws protecting authors. And indeed, a simple google search leads me to this rather extensive Wikipedia page:

Copyright on translations works by granting the translator the intellectual property right on the translation of a text. If that original text is copyrighted, you will have to ask for permission to translate. Even if you have no intent to make a profit. If you don't do that, then the author of the original text has a claim against you for violating his intellectual property right. That claim can go from asking for compensation, to seeking a ban on publishing the translation.

It seems that the US does not recognise the copyright of published works from Iran. In practice, you could translate an Iranian work, publish it in the US, and get away with it - or at least for as long as this policy does not change. I am however not sure if you would be safe from copyright claims in other countries. And you also need to make sure that the original work is published in Iran and not elsewhere (the language doesn't count).

If I were you, I would seek permission. True, Iran is a pretty closed country, but it does have internet and people do have mail. And even if the author is difficult to track down, I'm quite confident the publisher of the book will offer some ways to contact them other than by physically travelling to the country.


David Wright  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:29
German to English
+ ...
Suggestion Mar 25, 2013

You could contact one of teh Iranian translators on ProZ.


You could let me have the author's name and I could ask my contacts in Iran to see if they can help out. (I'm also interested in Iranian literature and would very much encourage the (legal) translation and publication of works!)


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