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Do you simply give your translation memory (TM) away for free?
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:28
English to German
+ ...
Jul 14, 2015

Did you sign an NDA and then gave everything to the client (agencies), including - for free - the TM you either built from scratch or built using previous TMs and other resources?

Did you come up with your own contract (with a direct client) to sell your TM or charge extra for it because you consider it a separate product from the target text? Because it works in CAT tools for future projects that you might not partake in? Because you consider your TMs your intellectual property (IP)?

For some more info on this, see:
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/287990-translation_memory_tm_is_the_translators_intellectual_property_ip.html

----

I feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding related to the use or misuse of TMs and other resources, similar information that, before the age of TM, remained in your brain and on your computer or in your papers; and you were the only one who had access to it. Using a person's TM is like having them right next to you, accessing their brain power and knowledge suggesting translartions or giving hints to ease the translation process. But they're not getting paid for it.

[Edited at 2015-07-14 22:18 GMT]


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Hmm Jul 14, 2015

While I see where you're coming from, it is the client who provides you with the source text, and it is the client who pays you to provide them with a translation of it (the target text). All a TM really is, is:

their source text + your target text

However, once you've been paid, your translation is their translation, and thus:

their source text + your target text

becomes

their source text + their target text

It will of course all depend on any contracts you enter into with your client, but I would find it hard to defend a position where they pay me and I yet I retain all the rights.

Providing them with a TM, however, can be seen as an extra service, so this ought to be reflected in your fee.

Another thing to consider is that they could very easily create a TM themselves, from their source text and your translation. It would take all of 5 minutes.

[Edited at 2015-07-14 22:34 GMT]


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
IP vs Copyright Jul 14, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:
Another thing to consider is that they could very easily create a TM themselves, from their source text and your translation. It would take all of 5 minutes.


Which is why I happily provide the TM. The "problem" arises if the client - who paid for the copyright - is going to use your IP - which is non-transferable - for other purposes. This is unlikely to happen with direct customers, but an agency may be tempted to use your KIA TM for a Testa Rossa manual. Hmmm.

Cheers,

Hans


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
We are paid to send our babies out into the world, never to see them again. Jul 15, 2015

Meta Arkadia wrote:

Michael Beijer wrote:
Another thing to consider is that they could very easily create a TM themselves, from their source text and your translation. It would take all of 5 minutes.


Which is why I happily provide the TM. The "problem" arises if the client - who paid for the copyright - is going to use your IP - which is non-transferable - for other purposes. This is unlikely to happen with direct customers, but an agency may be tempted to use your KIA TM for a Testa Rossa manual. Hmmm.

Cheers,

Hans


Can you expand on your statement to the effect that your intellectual property rights in your translation are non-transferable?

Also, how are we to know what kind of strange and wonderful things our clients get up to with our translations. I, personally, usually have no idea what my translations might get used for once I've translated and emailed them off to my client. And I don't care. They pay me not to care.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:28
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Definition of TM and distinction between TM, source and target text seem crucial to me Jul 15, 2015

Hi Michael, thanks for participating!

Michael Beijer wrote:

While I see where you're coming from, it is the client who provides you with the source text, and it is the client who pays you to provide them with a translation of it (the target text). All a TM really is, is:

their source text + your target text

However, once you've been paid, your translation is their translation, and thus:

their source text + your target text

becomes

their source text + their target text


I have no problem with their source text + their target text.

I have no problem (well no legal complaint) if a translator signed away his/her rights to the use or re-use of a TM he/she created, based on his/her signature on a NDA or special contract demanded by the client.

But I have a problem with simply signing these rights way. And I don't consider a TM as a simple extension or copy of source and target text.

A TM isn't just that, the source text AND the target text. The audience is not using a TM in a CAT tool to read the text; the copyright holder of the text publishes the texts in context, not a TM.

A TM is a special software tool that can be used again for another text (preferably by the same translator). To achieve the same quality with the new TM built on the old TM, it makes a lot of sense that the same person or an authorized person does it.

The context of the source text in which the TM was created plays a subordinate role with regard to a new text, but since the text will in many ways be similar, the TM can be of great help, finding relative matches.

Again, the TM contains the translator's thinking process, translation skills and knowledge if you will (even if a ST and TT were aligned later to build a TM when there never was a TM created during translation).

With regard to he translator's TM, containing the thinking process, translation skills and knowledge = how a translator translates certain phrases - it needs to be distinguished from the intended audience of the source or target text simply reading the text.

Thus, I hold, translation memory is a different entity, distinguishable from source text and target text.

As I said above, the overall context of a source text will influence "the way the segments are translated" and "how the target text and the target segments are rendered in a specific translation," but I believe it's more about how I translate those source segments versus how another translator would; so the context, although important, is not what I am mainly worried about with regard to the TM I created.

But when the client is the copyright holder of the target text (after having paid for the translation), he/she should really also be concerned about who is doing what with his/her text.

Does he /she permit anyone to align his target and source texts? What if he/she didn't? What are the legal consequences, really?!

Why would it be okay to create or build TMs from copyrighted texts? You CAN, but SHOULD you, really?!
Legal realities will certainly come to bear. They just haven't been considered much.
Naturally, agencies will try to have translators sign over any and all rights to their TMs. I would warn against it.

Michael Beijer wrote:
It will of course all depend on any contracts you enter into with your client, but I would find it hard to defend a position where they pay me and I yet I retain all the rights.


I would always claim the right to reuse my TMs because I will not sign that right away.
I will insist on that right and I will suggest and ask for acceptance of terms for the re-use of my TM.

That's different from additionally agreeing to or permitting someone else (the client for example) to co-use it - with the disclaimer that by having it amended, altered, or rebuilt etc. you give up any responsibility of accuracy. The translator is the one who has to decide what to really use, based on any suggestions by the TM.

I can't be responsible for someone else using my TM in a certain way. Simply copying phrases can potentially be wrong. Retaining the same translator or translator team and their previous TMs is certainly in the interest of the end client. But if anyone does that, they need to have permission as long as they are doing that with copyrighted material.

What is neither in the interest of the client/copyright holder nor the translator who created a TM during the translation process is that source or target text or the TM (created by the translator or built by a third party) be disseminated, (re-)used or sold to further third parties without the translator's and source and target text copyright holder's consent.

Michael Beijer wrote:
Providing them with a TM, however, can be seen as an extra service, so this ought to be reflected in your fee.


A fee yes, but giving up your own right to re-use it? No, I would say.

Michael Beijer wrote:
Another thing to consider is that they could very easily create a TM themselves, from their source text and your translation. It would take all of 5 minutes.


Yes, but from copyrighted material?! And by people using that TM, I would feel that my IP rights were infringed nevertheless.

[Edited at 2015-07-15 04:02 GMT]


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
IP vs copyright Jul 15, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:
Also, how are we to know what kind of strange and wonderful things our clients get up to with our translations.


That's what I was referring to above. If I hand in my KIA translation with the TM to an agency, the agency pays me for it, but will almost instantly re-sell the translation and therefore the copyright to KIA. The agency doesn't hold the copyright anymore, so can it re-use my KIA TM for Ferrari?

As far as copyright vs IP is concerned, a double Dutch example: If I translate a book, the publisher pays me for it, and has the right to monetise it. But for selling "copies" of the book only. Other revenues are not included. In Holland, people pay for borrowing a book at a library. Even though the publisher paid me for the copyright of the book, the "library money" goes to me, as the holder of the IP. IP is non-transferrable, inalienable.

Cheers,

Hans


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Not a tool Jul 15, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
A TM is a special software tool that can be used again for another text (preferably by the same translator).


A TM is not a tool, it's exactly what you say it isn't. It's

the source text AND the target text


in mark-up format that you can effortlessly mark down, as you can effortlessly mark-up plain text.

[Edit]That is, if we're talking about TMX files. Some CAT tools use other formats, like plain text in a database, marked-up text in a database, or even plain text period. But that doesn't make a difference, a TM is always just source text plus target text, not a "tool."

Cheers,

Hans


[Edited at 2015-07-15 02:58 GMT]


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Thanks for the interesting example... Jul 15, 2015

Meta Arkadia wrote:

Michael Beijer wrote:
Also, how are we to know what kind of strange and wonderful things our clients get up to with our translations.


That's what I was referring to above. If I hand in my KIA translation with the TM to an agency, the agency pays me for it, but will almost instantly re-sell the translation and therefore the copyright to KIA. The agency doesn't hold the copyright anymore, so can it re-use my KIA TM for Ferrari?

As far as copyright vs IP is concerned, a double Dutch example: If I translate a book, the publisher pays me for it, and has the right to monetise it. But for selling "copies" of the book only. Other revenues are not included. In Holland, people pay for borrowing a book at a library. Even though the publisher paid me for the copyright of the book, the "library money" goes to me, as the holder of the IP. IP is non-transferrable, inalienable.

Cheers,

Hans


... about the Dutch library. Didn't know that. Will ponder and mull on that for a while and get back to you when I'm awake.


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
It's not just books... Jul 15, 2015

Michael Beijer wrote:
... about the Dutch library.


For the Dutch "library money," search for "LIRA" and "Leenrecht."

But it also goes for music. Even though a composer/text writer sells a song to the record company, he's still the owner of the IP, and can get a vast amount of money for his work if it's covered by other people, or if it's played on the radio (streaming whatever nowadays). Think of Robbie van Leeuwen's Shocking Blue hit "Venus." It's some 40 years old, but he still get money for it, whereas the group (including Mariska Veres) and the record company only get money for "copies" sold.

A composer friend of mine won a prize contest for composing the introducing tune for the BBC news, again some 40 years ago. He got payed for it handsomely, but he also gets money for every time it's played. Think of it, about 15 seconds before every BBC news broadcast on every BBC channel. He still doesn't have to work... And since - depending on the law in the various countries - his children would have been entitled to that money for 70 years (50 in the US, I think) after his death, provided the tune is still played, of course. He's very gay, so he doesn't have any children. Bad luck for the non-existing ones.

Cheers,

Hans


 

564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:28
Danish to English
+ ...
No, never Jul 15, 2015

My TMs are MY TMs, and I wouldn't even sell them if offered money for them. They contain many different clients' work, which will never be anybody else's business. And I don't generate project or client-specific TMs.

However, I routinely return bilingual files to any client who asks for them. Those texts belong to the client, and if they want to incorporate the translations into THEIR TMs, I have no problem with that whatsoever. If I didn't return the bilingual files, the client could simply align source and target texts and then incorporate them. Why cause them this extra work when I have the files ready?

All this nonsense about IP and copyright seems incredibly irrelevant to my line of work, which is mainly non-literary. Even books I have translated for publishing still belong to the writers in my view.

If we were talking about high-profile books that were likely to be printed in thousands of copies, then I agree that the copyright issue and any question of royalties would become relevant, but other than that, I think this is all just a storm in a glass of water...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:28
Member (2008)
Italian to English
That's why Jul 15, 2015

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

.....the use or misuse of TMs and other resources, similar information that, before the age of TM, remained in your brain and on your computer or in your papers; and you were the only one who had access to it. Using a person's TM is like having them right next to you, accessing their brain power and knowledge suggesting translartions or giving hints to ease the translation process. But they're not getting paid for it.


That's one of the reasons (there are many others) why I don't use any CAT tools. I spend a lot of time compiling my own glossaries and I'm not going to give them away for free to translating agencies or anyone else.

[Edited at 2015-07-15 10:16 GMT]


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Wrong views Jul 15, 2015

Gitte Hovedskov, MCIL wrote:
However, I routinely return bilingual files to any client who asks for them.


For all intents and purposes, that's a TM, the TM for that particular project.

Even books I have translated for publishing still belong to the writers in my view.


The translation doesn't. In the example I provided - the "library money" - 30% of the money goes to the original writer, 70% to the translator. We are the "creators" in this case. Even if those books are non-specialist, and even in a small language region like Holland, we're talking about real money.

Cheers,

Hans


 

Meta Arkadia
Local time: 04:28
English to Indonesian
+ ...
A house is not a home... Jul 15, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

I spend a lot of time compiling my own glossaries and I'm not going to give them away for free to translating agencies or anyone else.


... and a glossary is not a TM.

Cheers,

Hans


 

Ben Senior  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:28
German to English
A TM is not just source plus target Jul 15, 2015

I agree with Gitte and totally agree with Bernhard on this one.

A TM is not just the source text plus the target text, there is a lot more information stored in a TM than that. Source text plus target text is a bilingual file, as Gitte said, and if the client wants the source plus target then they can have a bilingual from me. But the TM is mine! I have a lot more documents in my TM than just the current one being translated and the client/agency has no right at all to have the other documents in the TM. If the agency or client want a TM of the translated document then I will create one for them and populate it with just the segments in their text. But I will charge them for it as well with the requirement that it will not be used by anyone else, but then why have it?

Most of the software that I buy is not my property, but I buy the right to use that software from the company who wrote it and I do not have the right to resell that software. In my opinion a TM falls under the same category and just like when buying software or music if I don't agree to the terms then I don't buy it. I am the service provider and I set the terms on which I sell my services, a topic that arises time and time again here and on other forums.

Regards
Ben


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:28
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
To define IP, and: the problem of the problem Jul 15, 2015

Meta Arkadia wrote:
The "problem" arises if the client - who paid for the copyright - is going to use your IP - which is non-transferable - for other purposes.


1.

The way I understand the terms, "copyright" is one type of intellectual property right. An "intellectual property right" is a right that is attached to intellectual property. In the case of TMs and translations, the actual TM or the actual translation is the "intellectual property", the right to regulate the copying of it is the "copy right", and the right to copy it is the "right to copy" or the "license to publish".

I realise that we often mean "intellectual property right" when we use the word "intellectual property" or "IP", and I realise that most people mean "the right to copy" when they use the word "copyright", but even with that in mind, Hans, I don't quite understand your statement that "IP is non-transferable".

In some countries, copyright itself can be sold, assigned or transferred, but in others, only the right to copy (i.e. a licence to publish) can be sold, but not the copyright itself (i.e. the right to deny publication). Still, when we say "copyright is sold" or "copyright is transferred", we usually don't mean that copyright itself is assigned but that the right to copy (i.e. a license to publish) is sold.

2.

The problem with the problem is that unless something is stated explicitly in a contract, both parties will end up making assumptions, and when there is disagreement about those assumptions, the dispute will eventually be decided by a judge, who will take into account the purpose of the job (i.e. why did the client ask for a translation (or a TM), and what should the translator have reasonably expected the client to would have wanted to do with the translation).

So let's just ask that question ourselves: what would be the most likely reason why the client would want to have the TM? Answer: to leverage it in future translations. In other words, unless your contract with the client prohibits that, it would be reasonable to assume that that is what the client would want, and that means that that is the assumed agreement.

Do we have a right to determine what the client does with our TMs? Absolutely. Can we sell our TMs and/or the right to re-use our TMs, for extra money? Yes, certainly.

But: If we don't specifically prohibit re-use of our TMs, can clients assume that it is implied that we agree to it? Yes, I think so. And: If we don't specifically state the price of the TM or state that the TM must be paid for extra, can clients assume that it is implied that re-use of the TM is "included in the price"? Yes, I think so. Therefore, if you want to control your TMs, do so proactively.


 
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