Request for translation rights from the author of a published newspaper article
Thread poster: Winston Szeto

Winston Szeto
Member (2017)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Mar 30, 2018

Dear fellow translators,

I have read a commentary recently published on a US national newspaper that I really want to translate into Chinese and get it published on a well-known Hong Kong newspaper. I have asked the author on LinkedIn for permission to translate his/her work, specifying my purpose of the translation to make it accessible to the local Hong Kong audience. The author made a positive reply. But I feel that I should at least prepare a formal translation rights request agreement for both of us to sign. I'm totally new to this area, so how should I write an agreement like this? When I pitch to a newspaper where I want to publish the translation, should I first of all show this agreement to them as a proof that I have obtained permission from the author? Should I prepare another agreement with the target language newspaper specifying that I have the copyright of the piece of translation? Should I seek permission from the newspaper where the original article was published as well?

Thank you very much for your help!


Robin Levey
Local time: 01:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Applause - and a word of caution Mar 31, 2018

I applaud your willingness to do things properly. It’s so rare in the everyday world of copyright infringement that it merits our respecticon_smile.gif

That said, the mere fact that the author has “made a positive reply” to your request “for permission to translate his/her work” does not (necessarily) constitute a copyright assignment in your favour. It doesn’t even imply (necessarily) that the author is the current copyright owner – and if (s)he is not, (s)he cannot legally assign the copyright to you even if (s)he wanted or intended to. What if the author was on a “work for hire” engagement, for example? Or maybe the author works as freelancer/stringer and assigned the copyright to a press agency in exchange for payment, after which the US newspaper you refer to simply reproduced something from that agency?

Step 1: Check the facts.
Step 2: Proceed (perhaps) with caution.



Winston Szeto
Member (2017)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Terms of service of the newspaper found Mar 31, 2018

Thank you. I have found this terms of service, which means that I will have to contact the newspaper for permission:


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Request for translation rights from the author of a published newspaper article

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