A more specific question re. translation copy rights:
Thread poster: Malik Beytek (X)

Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 10:29
Jan 28, 2007

Is it both legal and ethical for one (in this case yours truly) to translate

(a) ONLY A SMALL PART, definitely less than half, of someone else's poem, already published and

(b) publish that translated part on his own personal web page,

(c) WITHOUT even contacting the poet and /or other copyright owners?

I'm pretty sure it is OK to do that for a few poems, but is it OK, legally, ethically, AND aesthetically as well, do to that regularly and repatedly on a large number of poems ad infinitum?

Whatdaya all think?


Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:29
English to German
+ ...
Depends on copyright laws and regulations Jan 29, 2007

I think the answer to the legal part of your question depends on the way copyright regulations are handled legally in the country you live in.

As far as I know, generally copyright law states that you are never entitled to publish something under copyright without prior consent of the copyright owner which in this case would be the author. Nor are you allowed to translate something and publish the translation without the author's consent. In most countries, what you can use is stuff that is no longer under copyright, because the author has died a long time ago.

This has nothing to do with the amount of words or works you publish. If you publish only a few passages it may go unnoticed so the author cannot protest, but it is still illegal.

Whether it is ethical: Well, I would not like others to publish my work on their website without my consent, so I would not do it with other people's work.

In Germany doing something like that is becoming quite risky (and expensive!) lately, since lawyers found out that they can make lots of money simply by writing you a letter, stating you are not allowed to do this and have to remove the stuff from your website, and sending along their bill for this letter. I think regarding the Internet this procedure has also become a kind of international pastime, so beware!


Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 10:29
I think there is a provision in most countries called "fair use"... Jan 29, 2007

Claudia Krysztofiak wrote:

This has nothing to do with the amount of words or works you publish. If you publish only a few passages it may go unnoticed so the author cannot protest, but it is still illegal.

Thank you, Claudia.

I think I can always say "so and so wrote this in Turkish and this could be a way of saying it in English" and publish it as such on my personal web page.

I have seen many examples of such use without the translation part. I think they call it "fair use" or something like that but I'm not sure. It should be OK with translation too.

I'll probably won't get into big trouble with the law. But I want to know how other people feel about ethical and aesthetic aspects of it, especially if I do that regularly.

Maybe I should check the net for examples of what I have in mind. Tips in that direction would be appreciated.

[Edited at 2007-01-29 14:43]


Lydia De Jorge  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
translation copyrights Jan 29, 2007

If this is published work, it is copyrighted and you cannot just use it w/o proper authorization.

Ethical? How would you feel if it was done to you?


Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 10:29
They call it "Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use (of copyrighted work) Jan 29, 2007

Thank you Lydia.

I found this page and others on "fair use" and I'll be studying them. The link refers to the page as "fact sheet on "fair use" of copyrighted works":


Re ethical - I would not mind if someone were to write on his or her web site that Malik Bey wrote;

"Mark points one and two
And then draw a line through..."

and this is how one could say it in Turkish..."

I don't think I'd mind that.

Of course there may be a fine point that I'm missing here. So I'm still interested in hearing from the community about this.

[Edited at 2007-01-29 19:48]


Roomy Naqvy  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
English to Hindi
+ ...
no politics please Jan 29, 2007

I just hope we do not have any vaguely political discussion. Rest is fine.



nordiste  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:29
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
why not contact the poet ad ask for permission ? Jan 29, 2007

He might be delighted that you take the time and effort to translate his work and gain him a new audience, even for free, unless he has already sold the rights to a foreign publisher.


Malik Beytek (X)
Local time: 10:29
I do want to do it that way -- with a written permission, but... Jan 29, 2007

... I'm afraid it would be a looooong process. So far I asked publishers about general information concerning copyrights only - never got an answer. I read several reports in these forums about people, in different countries, seeking permission to translate and never getting an answer -- not even a "no" answer. So why bother beyond a certain level of effort in that direction?

My (yet untested) theory is that while they would not bother with granting permissions, they would not mind the use of the works at the scale of "fair use" either (a provision that I'm trying to get familiar with right now).

[Edited at 2007-01-29 20:10]


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