What copyrights and permissions do I need to publish a book translation?
Thread poster: IFTranslator (X)

IFTranslator (X)
United States
Local time: 18:58
Jun 28, 2008

I recently came across a book written in Italian that I really enjoy reading. The author is still alive, and the book was published in the last twenty years by a publishing house.

I'd like to translate the book and publish my translation, most likely here in the USA, but I am unsure as to whether I need permission, from the author or publishing house, before publishing the translation. Can anyone advise me as to what the proper procedure is for approaching this type of translation project? Thanks for your help.


Local time: 05:28
English to Urdu
+ ...
permission from the author Jun 28, 2008

Hello Andrea,
You need the author's permission for sure. As for the Publishing of the book, the publishers generally have first publication right, which lasts for two years in Great Brittain, I tmay be different in Italy. You can get acopy of the Copy Right Act of Italy that will guide you properly. That is what I think. More info mis always better.
Best regards.

[Edited at 2008-06-28 05:03]


Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:58
English to Dutch
+ ...
permission from author and possibly publisher Jun 28, 2008

You definitely need permission from the author.
About the publisher, that depends on what the author has agreed with the publisher. Often, authors will sell their copyright to their publisher, in exchange for a flat fee or a percentage in the profit, or a combination thereof.
Write them both, and you'll know.


Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:58
English to Turkish
+ ...
Contact author's agent Jun 28, 2008

The information of whom you should find in the book itself. Or, on the Internet you may be able to find out who represents the author. This is the correct procedure, however, as a private person, your chances might be limited. I suggest you find a publisher willing to consider publishing your translation first. They will take it from there.

[Edited at 2008-06-28 22:14]


hazmatgerman (X)
Local time: 00:58
English to German
Unpaid work likely Jun 29, 2008

Beware of doing any translation work w/o a publishers contract for it; you're likely to be stuck with it. Publishers will choose their translator but only if they see a market for the book.


IFTranslator (X)
United States
Local time: 18:58
Do I send a full book proposal? Jun 29, 2008

Thanks for all of your thoughts. I'm not looking to grow rich from this endeavor, but if I work hard on something I'd at least like to know it has a chance of being published.

I think I'll get in touch with the author and feel out a few publishing houses before going further with the translation. Would anyone know if a full book proposal is required in order to approach publishing houses about a book translation, or does it vary depending on the publisher?

Thanks again for your help!


Local time: 01:58
Romanian to English
+ ...
Above all... Jun 30, 2008

(...) Dear Andrea,

You need a suitable market in your country for that book.
If your home-country's publishers don't want it because there's no demand for it (mainly because of public ignorance), you then have NO need to translate it EVEN IF you volunteer to do it FOR FREE; the author won't buy that.icon_smile.gif
After all, I too have read some very interesting "Star Wars" saga pre- and sequels from the alternate and expanded universe, but I don't think Romanian publishers want them.

~ S.M. ~


Silvester (X)
Local time: 23:58
German to English
Legality of translating a book still in copyright and posting it on the internet Oct 22, 2008

If one wishes to translate a book for the love of it/fun of it and not be interested in trying to overcome the hurdles of getting it published, may one post it in its entirety on the internet? Failing that, would posting excerpts from it be legal?


B D Finch  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:58
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Author's permission Oct 26, 2008

If you admire a book suffiently to wish to translate it, then surely you respect the author sufficiently to ask his/her permission?


Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:58
English to German
Further questions Jan 9, 2009

I came across this thread by accident. Several years I also read a book that I found very
fascinating (it is written in (American-) English, it is some 40 or 50 years old and the author is not alive
any more). I tried to get a German copy for a friend of mine who doesn't understand English, but I failed, that is there wasn't any translation and the book itself isn't published any more. Since then I am contemplating to do a translation - mainly just for the fun of it and because I find that book fascinating.

Would the above mentioned facts change the situation about copyright? However, I might do some researching about legal things first.....

What's your opinion?



Alexandra Taggart  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:58
Russian to English
+ ...
Translation copyright Jan 9, 2009

Go to Internet and contact German agencies. You would not avoid extra charges. You may need a lawyer because "The author's permission to translate his book" could be passed to his kin and kith.


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 00:58
German to Serbian
+ ...
Illegal/legal Jan 10, 2009


Doing it without the author's permission would be illegal, and you could easily be trapped in a criminal procedure.

I advise you to contact your closest publishing house, as they are familiar with current procedures related to this type of work ( translation, adaptation, authorization and publishing), and should be able to give you the most accurate and current information.


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