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Scary movie starring me and a phantom translation agency
Thread poster: Iuliana Bozkurt

Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:05
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
Mar 3, 2011

Dear colleagues,

I will tell you a story now, that is quite hard to believe... Not a bed time story, but a real life one, with Sherlock Holmes accents.

In Jan 2011, I responded to a bid posted on a translation site. All seemed fine, my bid was responded, I was awarded the project, I finished it, delivered it, I waited for the 30 day payment term to pass, in order for me to receive my fee... Now, surprise! No payment! Well, the surprise is not this one. We all face delays in receiving our payment, nothing new about that.

The detective story started when I contacted the lady who hired me. She said that my translations were still under review. After more than 30 days!!! Of course, this was a pretext, I am not that naive. I replied to her that I did not agree with this treatment. 5 minutes later, I received a holiday notification: ''I will be OOO until March 25''. Okkkk. I somehow had the impression this was dedicated to me. I immediately replied to her message. Strangely enough, I received no OOO reply this time! You understand the reasons, of course. She was probably in the office, too bored to even send another OOO to me to shut my mouth up.

I started to panic, really. Then I did something quite unprofessional, but excusable. I found the end client data in the files that I translated, I searched on google and found their site and contact data. I phoned, in Germany, and a very nice lady said that SHE HAS NEVER HEARD ABOUT THE RESPECTIVE TRANSLATION AGENCY!!! Wow!!! Was I in a Twilight Zone TV series? No. It was the reality itself! After some lamentations from my side, she agreed to tell me that indeed they worked with a translation agency, who supplied the Romanian translation (MY Romanian translation), and the translation was OK and at that monent was being adapted for website publication by their IT team. But, surprise again! The name of the translation agency they worked with was completely different than what I knew!!! She was kind enough to give me the tel no and website of the REAL agency. A Chinese agency. No discrimination here, I have a Chinese client who pays me on time and I have a wonderful relation with them.

I called this agency in China and I told them who I am. Suddenly, the guy who answered my call got veeeery upset! ''I don't know who you are and why you are calling me!'' Me: ''Yes, you DO know who I am. Your client X gave me your contact details, so don' tell me you don't know who I am!'' The guy: ''Oh, yes, yes, indeed. Well, send me an e-mail with your complaint and I will see what I can do for you!''. I thought that was great, well, maybe there had beeon some misunderstanding. I sent them an e-mail. No reply. Another e-mail. Still no reply. By curiosity, I checked the net for some references about this agency. Shock!!! On proz.com, this agency was banned from posting jobs and its rating was...1!!! Also, it scammed another Spanish translator, of approx. 2600 dollars. A lot more than my almost 800 dollars.

Now, of course I discredited this (already discredited) agency on every possible translators' community website. I even contacted the Chinese embassy in my country, and they were very nice and promised they would contact this thief and help me in this problem.

What would you do in my position? Would you contact a debt recovery agency? The issue is that the scammer gave me fake invoicing data and an e-mail account that proves nothing. And I feel that the lady who hired me was, indeed, that pissed off rude guy. So, officially I have no connection with this agency. The only connection is the end client, who could send me a copy of their contract with the scammer and an acknowledgement of the fact that the translation they received was indeed performed by ME. I know I might need some legal advice here, but maybe some of you were in this position before. Although it is quite hard to be in this position - fake identities, cyber charlatans...

Curiously awaiting your reactions and, maybe, suggestions!

And, don't wish this, not even to your enemiesicon_smile.gif


 

Luciano J Silva
Brazil
Local time: 10:05
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Please ask our colleagues to help you out Mar 3, 2011

Dear Iuliana,

I am so sorry that you are going through all of this.
Try to contact our colleagues at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WPPF/.

The best of luck,

Luciano José da Silva
Brazil


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
The copyright is yours Mar 3, 2011

An option would be to phone the nice German lady and tell her that you have not been paid for the translation and so the copyright remains unassigned. Tell her that you will be monitoring the website and if your text appears then you will take immediate legal action against the company. You should probably follow this phone call with an email. Good luck.

 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
French to German
+ ...
Most certainly, but... Mar 3, 2011

John Rawlins wrote:

An option would be to phone the nice German lady and tell her that you have not been paid for the translation and so the copyright remains unassigned. Tell her that you will be monitoring the website and if your text appears then you will take immediate legal action against the company. You should probably follow this phone call with an email. Good luck.


I would not risk to turn a potential ally into an actual enemy.

And this company just could laugh its head off at the simple mention of "copyright" and tell Iuliana point-blank that it has no contractual relationship with her.

The main problem so far is to prove that the actual agency and the phantom entity are one and the same outfit - and for this, Iuliana still needs the end client.


 

Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:05
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Copyright... Mar 3, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

And this company just could laugh its head off at the simple mention of "copyright" and tell Iuliana point-blank that it has no contractual relationship with her.



I've seen this opinion in the Proz forums before, and I'm curious where it's coming from? A little bit of common sense would suffice to see that this argument won't hold.

Copyright has nothing to do with contractual relationships. If someone's selling me a story and I'm going to make a movie based on this story and then it turns out that this story was stolen from Dan Brown - you can bet your life that Dan Brown's lawyer will hunt me down (even if it's just to find out who I got this story from).

Same here: Iuliana is the copyright holder and the end client is the one using her texts without her getting proper compensation. Now, it's of course unfortunate for both parties that they've been scammed - and I fully agree with you that Iuliana shouldn't alienate her ally - but in the end, Iuliana has to take care of her own money/business and if that means indicating that she still needs to be paid before the texts will be available for use, then so be it. With all business politeness, of course.

At least that is my understanding of the legal situation in my jurisdiction and probably many other jurisdictions as well.


And by the way, there was another thread recently with someone in just the same situation and the advice given there was to prevent the end client from paying the scammer - has your end client already paid the "agency"? If not, then this will be your key.


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
French to German
+ ...
This is what I was told... Mar 3, 2011

Simone Linke wrote:

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

And this company just could laugh its head off at the simple mention of "copyright" and tell Iuliana point-blank that it has no contractual relationship with her.



I've seen this opinion in the Proz forums before, and I'm curious where it's coming from? A little bit of common sense would suffice to see that this argument won't hold.

Copyright has nothing to do with contractual relationships. (.../...)



This is what I was told not so long ago - by the end of last year in fact - when I contacted an end client in Germany because the German agency didn't react to reminders and seemed not ready to pay outstanding invoices. Full details available upon request (I have kept the e-mail reply).

This, of course, doesn't mean that such an attitude would be echoed by applicable law etc. - it is only a possibility to be taken into account and which will make things more difficult.

[Edited at 2011-03-03 20:39 GMT]


 

Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:05
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Payment vs. Copyright? Mar 3, 2011

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

This is what I was told not so long ago - by the end of last year in fact - when I contacted an end client in Germany because the German agency didn't react to reminders and seemed not ready to pay outstanding invoices. Full details available upon request (I have kept the e-mail reply).

This, of course, doesn't mean that such an attitude would be echoed by applicable law etc. - it is only a possibility to be taken into account and which will make things more difficult.

[Edited at 2011-03-03 20:39 GMT]


I see. Well, my guess is that either the company in question was just trying to make you go away, or they were confusing payment duties with copyright issues.

Again, I'm not a lawyer and not the best person to explain legal matters, but here's a post with a very similar problem where a lawyer responded and explained the situation: http://www.frag-einen-anwalt.de/forum_topic.asp?topic_id=96047&

@Iuliana: sorry, the link is in German and I don't know what relevance it has for your jurisdiction. But in the case of Germany (and apparently other European countries), you may not be able to force your "ally" to pay your bill, but you are certainly entitled to deny them the use of your translation. And if they use it anyway, you're entitled to proper compensation - hence, the end client in question here might be better off clearing the matter in cooperation with you rather than paying the scammer and then having to pay you again.

But just to repeat: I'm not a legal expert at all.

[Edited at 2011-03-03 21:17 GMT]


 

Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:05
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
John Rawlins on Copyrights Mar 3, 2011

Simone Linke wrote:

Laurent KRAULAND wrote:

And this company just could laugh its head off at the simple mention of "copyright" and tell Iuliana point-blank that it has no contractual relationship with her.



I've seen this opinion in the Proz forums before, and I'm curious where it's coming from? A little bit of common sense would suffice to see that this argument won't hold.

Copyright has nothing to do with contractual relationships. If someone's selling me a story and I'm going to make a movie based on this story and then it turns out that this story was stolen from Dan Brown - you can bet your life that Dan Brown's lawyer will hunt me down (even if it's just to find out who I got this story from).

Same here: Iuliana is the copyright holder and the end client is the one using her texts without her getting proper compensation. Now, it's of course unfortunate for both parties that they've been scammed - and I fully agree with you that Iuliana shouldn't alienate her ally - but in the end, Iuliana has to take care of her own money/business and if that means indicating that she still needs to be paid before the texts will be available for use, then so be it. With all business politeness, of course.

At least that is my understanding of the legal situation in my jurisdiction and probably many other jurisdictions as well.


And by the way, there was another thread recently with someone in just the same situation and the advice given there was to prevent the end client from paying the scammer - has your end client already paid the "agency"? If not, then this will be your key.




Our colleague John Rawlins is absolutely right on what he says re Copyrights, at least in many/most jurisdictions that I know of. I am an Intellectual Property attorney, although I specialize on patents. I do not know anything, however, re German law, or the laws of many other jurisdictions.

As a general statement, Dan Brown has absolute rights on his books, including any derivative work, such as translations. However, once he asked for a translation, the translator acquires rights to his or her own translation, unless the contract between Dan Brown and the translator provides otherwise.

When a translator sends the translation to the agency to be delivered to the end client, the translator is conveying a "revocable" license to the end client to use the translation as they see fit. This license becomes permanent once the translator is paid. At any time before that, the translator can revoke the license.

Even after the license becomes permanent, the translator retains rights to use his translation, again, unless the contract provides otherwise. Thank goodness, or we will all be violating somebody else's copyright using our translation memories, a derivative work.

Of course, this does not mean that we can get rich publishing Dan Brown's books (or Harry Potter's) in another language that is not English. First, we must have been authorized to do the translation by the copyright's owner, the author, the publishing company or whoever owns the copyright. Second, the translation contract must be silent re copyright's ownership of the translation. Most (all?) contracts will require that the translator transfers all rights.

But, if the contract is silent to this respect, and the laws of the applicable jurisdiction allow for it, it is always possible to tell the end client: Yes, I know that you do not have a contract with me, but that what you have is mine, until paid. You cannot use it for publishing it on the Net.

I have no idea re the situation of the poster. She may or may not have any rights, depending on the contract (I have signed many contracts binding me to transfer all my rights whenever I deliver the translation, whether I am paid or not) and the applicable laws. But certainly, John Rawlins on Copyrights, on this point, is correct, unless in many jurisdictions.

Luis

[Edited at 2011-03-03 23:56 GMT]


 

Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:05
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for the advice Mar 3, 2011

Indeed, I was happy to see that many of you sympathize with me. I find myself indeed in a very unpleasant situation. The thing is that we have no agreement (me and the scammer) and I would really not want to turn the German lady into an enemy, as you said.

Anyway, I just received an offer from a Chinese law firm, I think I will work with them to collect my money. Even if I collect only 50%, I will still be satisfied.

I cannot file a copyright claim against the German website, as I have no proof/agreement and, obviously, they are my only chance of getting my money back. So, I will stick to the embassy or collection agency solution. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:05
French to German
+ ...
Thank you, Luis... Mar 4, 2011

for your very clear input. It has "lifted the fog" as far as I am concerned.

 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thank you Luis Mar 4, 2011

Thank you Luis for your very illuminating reply.

 

Ingo Breuer  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 14:05
Dutch to German
+ ...
Stupid question? Mar 4, 2011

Hi Iuliana,

This question may seem somewhat ridiculous, but how did you come to know that they would like you to translate the text(s) and how dit you receive the file(s) itself (themselves)? When send by e-mail, isn't that the proof you have been asked to do the job? Even if the e-mail adres of the sender is fake, the e-mail itself might still be the proof that you have been asked to do the translation, right?

The best of luck with all further steps you might undertake.


 

Iuliana Bozkurt  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:05
Member (2008)
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Getting the job Mar 4, 2011

Ingo Breuer wrote:

Hi Iuliana,

This question may seem somewhat ridiculous, but how did you come to know that they would like you to translate the text(s) and how dit you receive the file(s) itself (themselves)? When send by e-mail, isn't that the proof you have been asked to do the job? Even if the e-mail adres of the sender is fake, the e-mail itself might still be the proof that you have been asked to do the translation, right?

The best of luck with all further steps you might undertake.


Well, Ingo, I applied to a job published on translationdirectory.com. And it all started there...

Today, I received an UPSET E-MAIL FROM THE GERMAN CLIENT, asking me not to disturb them any more!!!!!!!! Wow! The scammer was pissed off and harassed his client now! Guys, are we in a nightmare here?


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Perhaps you have chosen the wrong target Mar 4, 2011

Here is a thought.

You are choosing to chase a Chinese agency with a track record of not paying. That is to say, a company based on fraudulent business practices. Mmmm.

If I were in your shoes I would be chasing that nice German lady who is already upset and probably has a reputation to protect. The fact that she is upset may suggest that she is worried. She may be very polite to you on the phone, but it was her, or her company, who decided to work with the fraudulent Chinese firm. She is now intending to profit from the use of your intellectual property.

Her firm probably has the money to pay, or may be in a position to force the Chinese to pay.

Good luck.


 

Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 14:05
Member (2009)
Italian to English
Agency that gave you the work Mar 4, 2011

Iuliana Isac wrote:

I phoned, in Germany, and a very nice lady said that SHE HAS NEVER HEARD ABOUT THE RESPECTIVE TRANSLATION AGENCY!!! Wow!!! Was I in a Twilight Zone TV series? No. It was the reality itself! After some lamentations from my side, she agreed to tell me that indeed they worked with a translation agency, who supplied the Romanian translation (MY Romanian translation), and the translation was OK and at that monent was being adapted for website publication by their IT team. But, surprise again! The name of the translation agency they worked with was completely different than what I knew!!! She was kind enough to give me the tel no and website of the REAL agency. A Chinese agency.


Does the agency that actually gave you the work exist? Does it have a website? Does it have a Blueboard record? Could it be that the Chinese agency outsourced to this other agency? Your claim is surely with the agency that gave you the work and not the Chinese agency.


 
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