Literary translation and copyright
Thread poster: Jo Skullbacka

Jo Skullbacka
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
Swedish to English
+ ...
Jun 3, 2009

I'd like some advice regarding literary translation and copyright.

If an author, who has had his book published by a publisher, gives his consent for me to translate the book into English, is that enough? Or do the publishers hold all rights, and in that case, what is the best way to proceed in getting the rights to translate the book?

What is the best place to find more information and advice regarding copyright?

Many thanks

Jo


 

Claire Chapman  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:58
French to English
+ ...
It depends... Jun 3, 2009

It depends on who owns the copyright, the author or the publisher. And if the author owns the copyright, it depends on which of the two has the foreign language rights.

 

Robert Tucker (X)
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
German to English
+ ...
Translation rights Jun 3, 2009

I'm not a legal expert in the field,but I think it will depend if the author has signed away translation rights to the publisher.

The author will hold the copyright for his work and I don't think he can sell that as such in the UK. He will essentially have sold the publisher the right to publish his book – it will depend on that contract, I believe, whether he has sold the right to have it translated (or even not to have it translated).


 

Maria Vita Licata
Local time: 18:58
English to Italian
+ ...
My personal experience Jun 3, 2009

The publisher owns the copyright (translation included), thus the author must ask the publisher.
So, before accepting, ask the author what kind of contract he has signed and what the Publisher thinks about translating the book.
And more, who is the Publisher for the translated version of the book? It is very important, some publishers prefer to use "their own translators"...and then you'll see your translation under another name.
watcha!
Maria Vita


 

Robert Tucker (X)
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
German to English
+ ...
Links Jun 4, 2009

Contrary to what I wrote above, it does seem that it may be possible for the author to have sold his copyright. These links might be useful:

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073942615
http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law
http://www.bath.ac.uk/library/eprints/copyright-licensing.html
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-manage/c-useenforce/c-use/c-sell.htm

and for the US:

http://copyright.columbia.edu/identifying-owner


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
German to English
+ ...
Copyright and translation rights are different things Jun 4, 2009

The English translation rights are probably owned by the Swedish publisher.

Any publisher who wants to publish a translation of an existing book will have to negotiate with the original publisher and purchase the translation rights for the relevant language.

The best source of information regarding literary translation in the UK is the Translators Association (part of the Society of Authors):
http://www.societyofauthors.org/subsidiary_groups/translators_association/
Scroll down on that page for a link to their "Translation FAQ".

This page from the American Literary Translators Association gives a good outline of the process of how to approach a publisher:
http://www.literarytranslators.org/booklengthtranslation.html
Other guides from the ALTA:
http://www.literarytranslators.org/guides.html

You can find out more by Googling the phrase "translation rights" (inside quotation marks like that).


 

urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
German to English
+ ...
Handbook for Literary Translators Jun 5, 2009

Further info from the PEN American Center -- its Handbook for Literary Translators is available here:

http://www.pen.org/page.php/prmID/271

Scroll down to see the chapter headings in the Table of Contents.

Im my view, this handbook contains a great deal of useful information -- not just for translators based in the US. It's worth reading in its entirety.


 

Jo Skullbacka
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jun 5, 2009

Thanks everyone, this is really useful stuff!


Jo


 


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