Literary Translation Copyright
Thread poster: carlos cegarra sanmartin

carlos cegarra sanmartin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jan 16, 2007

Hello everyone!

I have contacted a writer for the translation of several chapters of his book, I suppose that this is just a sample for sending to a Spanish publishing house.

Once we agreed that I would do the translation of these chapters I sent him a contract in which I stated that all copyrights of the translation would stay with me.

He answered saying:

"That's absolutely unacceptable. After the work is done I need to keep all the rights related to the translated text - publishing, editing, reproducing, etc. Of course, when the translated text is made public in any sense, I do promise to include your name as the translator of the original text."

Actually this is the first time I have a literary assignment and don't know what is the fairer thing to do for both part? Should I keep them, should he? Should we both? If so, how do I establish percentages or royalties?

Could anybody help?

Thank you very much indeed


Melissa Stanfield  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:10
Italian to English
+ ...
Caveat: Translations Jan 17, 2007

This link explains clearly more or less how this question would be answered in Australia. I'm sure someone else will be able to advise you more specifically, but this is some interesting food for thought on the matter anyway.

And this one is "International PEN's Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Translators"

This website is run by the British Council.

Good luck,


[Edited at 2007-01-17 00:24]


Local time: 20:10
English to Indonesian
+ ...
From a publisher's point of view Jan 17, 2007

In Indonesia, literary translations are *usually* commissioned by the publisher to the translator. Therefore, as is the norm in a work-for-hire job, the publisher obtains all rights to the translation.

During my past work as a rights coordinator to secure translation rights for the publisher where I work, I know that the author usually receive less royalty percentage for the translation of his work than for his work in the original language. For example, authors usually receive 10-15% for his original work, but only receive 5-10% for the translation. The rest of the "royalty" is used by the foreign publisher for covering the expenses of translation--either commissioning it or paying it out as a royalty to the translator.


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