Portfolio/sample translations and copyright
Thread poster: KKastenhuber

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:47
Russian to German
+ ...
Jun 10, 2012

Hello everyone,

I've been trying to find something I could use for showing off my translation skills in the portfolio section and just came across a short literary translation (a poem, to be exact) that I did at university and that I'm very fond of. I'm clueless when it comes to copyright issues, though, so please help me out here: Can I use this translation as a sample? The poem was originally published in a book, but a quick google search revealed that it also floats around the web (in the original language, that is). Oh, and the original writer is still alive, if that should make any difference.

Thanks in advance for your advice!


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Werner Maurer  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 11:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
fair use? Jun 11, 2012

Seems like it should come under "fair use". But I'm no expert.

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Vikki Pendleton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:47
Member
German to English
+ ...
On a related note Jun 11, 2012

Is there an official translation floating around as well? If so then yours should probably be different enough that it's obvious you haven't just used the official one. If not... why not contact the author and offer your translation?

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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:47
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Procedure to follow? Jun 11, 2012

Vikki Pendleton wrote:

Is there an official translation floating around as well? If so then yours should probably be different enough that it's obvious you haven't just used the official one. If not... why not contact the author and offer your translation?


I googled around for a while and couldn't find any of his works translated into German (nor English for that matter). I did find a way to contact him via a social network though, and he seems to be quite down-to-earth and interested in his readers' opinions, so I might actually try getting in touch with him. Is there some kind of procedure to follow or do I just write that I appreciate his poems and that I have translated one of them and would he be interested in it (and/or in having more of his work translated)?

[Edited at 2012-06-11 17:13 GMT]


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Vikki Pendleton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:47
Member
German to English
+ ...
Worth a try Jun 11, 2012

I don't know of any standard procedures but if, as you say, he seems sort of down to earth then I'm sure he'd be pleased to know you had translated one of his poems. If you wanted to play it safe you could simply ask if he was interested in/had any opinions on his poems being translated...

Good luck if you go for it. If not then I'm sure as Werner said that it probably counts as fair use - and at least no one will think you ripped it off an official translation if there aren't any.


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:47
German to English
fair use? Jun 12, 2012

Hello,

If you post the entire poem (and that in a primarily commercial context), I can't imagine that it would fall under fair use. Fair use laws are very different in different countries, but I don't think they would ever cover publishing a complete poem. If you only posted a few lines, this might be covered by fair use.

Copyright is there so that authors receive a cut of the monetary value of their work. Authors (or their publishers, if they have sold their rights) get to determine who can publish their work where and in what form and at what price.

Just contact the author and ask. Chances are good that you will receive permission for free if the author is still the holder of the rights and, if not free, the fee is likely to be reasonable. If you have to deal with a publisher, it may be more complicated and expensive.

Sincerely,
Michael


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:47
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Can you do it again? Jun 12, 2012

KKastenhuber wrote:
I've ... just came across a short literary translation (a poem, to be exact) that I did at university and that I'm very fond of. ... Can I use this translation as a sample?


1. I get the impression (though I could be wrong) that in Austria the most important principle of fair usage is that of non-commercial use, and using it in a portfolio is commercial use, IMO.

Also, fair usage usually does not apply to using the entire literary work, and a poem is a complete literary work, so unless the poem is very long and you're quoting a very short part of it, your usage of it is less fair rather than more fair.

2. Can you translate a poem like that again? If not, then don't put it in your portfolio. But if you can, then rather take a poem that you know is in the public domain, and translate that for your portfolio.


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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 20:47
Russian to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your warnings Jun 12, 2012

I guess I'll go for a different text for my portfolio then. Just because others don't respect copyright, doesn't mean I have to do the same, right? And while literary translation is something that I would love to do more of (especially children's literature, like that one particular poem I'm referring to), I guess it's not what most clients on ProZ are looking for anyways.

Thanks for clearing things up for me.


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Kelly Efird
Local time: 14:47
English to Spanish
+ ...
Fair use? Oct 3, 2012

I thought it fell under commercial use only if you were literally selling the poem itself? And not giving any credit to the author?

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