Subtitling - intellectual property rights
Thread poster: Rasa Racevičiūtė

Rasa Racevičiūtė  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:48
Member (2010)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Oct 5, 2012

I was contacted by a subtitling company recently, performed test translation, was offered a rate which I thought was pretty decent for my language pair and now received their master service agreement to sign. What it says basically is that I have to surrender all of my intellectual property rights to translation works I produce working for them. I was wondering if that is an usual practice or should I try to negotiate different conditions? Thank you.

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Joakim Braun  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 05:48
German to Swedish
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OK Oct 5, 2012

A usual and entirely reasonable work-for-hire practise.

If you were an outsourcer, would you buy subtitling services if the intellectual property rights were not included?

The rate paid for this... now, that's another can of worms.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:48
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Unfortunately it is not unusual Oct 5, 2012

Rasa Racevičiūtė wrote:
What it says basically is that I have to surrender all of my intellectual property rights to translation works I produce working for them. I was wondering if that is an usual practice or should I try to negotiate different conditions?


They are unlikely to accept other terms. They do this for the sake of simplicity -- if they are the owners of the copyright, then they don't have to keep track of you whenever they want to use your work. It is not unusual to sign such agreements when working via translation agencies. Whether it is fair or not is another issue.

Joakim Braun wrote:
A usual and entirely reasonable work-for-hire practise.


Yes, but let's not misunderstand what "work for hire" means. Work-for-hire applies to the work created by employees (in which the intellectual property rights belong to the employer, not the employee).

Freelancers are not employees. This means that a freelance job is only "work for hire" if both parties (freelancer and client) agree that it is. In the absense of anything to the contrary, it should never be assumed that a freelancer's work is "work for hire".

Of course, this all depends on the copyright laws of the subtitler's country, and whether the subtitler's country's laws regard her work as having been created in her own country or in the country of the outsourcer (regardless of anything she might have signed).

If you were an outsourcer, would you buy subtitling services if the intellectual property rights were not included?


Sure, why not? As long as the subtitler grants the outsourcer a perpetual royalty-free license to use the subtitler's copyrighted work, why should the outsourcer be worried? The only problem is with attribution -- if the copyright is owned by the outsourcer, then the subtitler does not need to be credited, but if the copyright is owned by the subtitler, he could demand to be credited.


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Faustine Roux  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:48
English to French
Depends on the country Oct 5, 2012

I think in France, subtitlers are considered as authors and therefore keep some intellectual property rights as they receive royalties.

Well, I think so. In doubt, let's check on the ATAA website (the French association of audiovisual translators).


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Sylvano
Local time: 05:48
English to French
Perfectly right Oct 6, 2012

Faustine Roux wrote:

I think in France, subtitlers are considered as authors and therefore keep some intellectual property rights as they receive royalties.

Well, I think so. In doubt, let's check on the ATAA website (the French association of audiovisual translators).


It's a fact. In French law, the subtitlers and dubbers are 'authors' and therefore own their works indefinitely, that is to say both the money part (royalties anytime it is broadcast) and the 'moral' part : in theory, they are the only ones deciding what can be done (or not) with their translations. They are only 'lending' to clients and broadcasters the right to use their work for a specific time period, in a specific area.


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:48
English
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That's standard in the UK. Oct 8, 2012

Most (if not all) of the UK subtitling houses' freelance and staff contracts include a clause confirming that the subtitler assigns all rights in the work to the client.

Another consideration is that if the client was expected to pay royalties to the subtitler every time their work was reused, the initial subtitling rate would probably be reduced still further to compensate for this.


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Sylvano
Local time: 05:48
English to French
I'm not bragging but... Oct 9, 2012

kmtext wrote:Another consideration is that if the client was expected to pay royalties to the subtitler every time their work was reused, the initial subtitling rate would probably be reduced still further to compensate for this.


In France, not only are we lucky to have both, but our initial rates tend to be higher than in the UK. And clients still make good money, I'm not worried about that. Let's not forget that everytime our work is reused by clients or broadcasters, they earn money again (sales, advertising, etc.).

[Edited at 2012-10-09 11:11 GMT]


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Tuulia Tipa  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:48
English to Finnish
+ ...
A company can make money on my subtitles eternally? Nov 2, 2012

The same just happened to me: a company approached me with an OK rate but demands me to sign the agreement...

"Contractor hereby irrevocably waives throughout the universe, any and all of his or her moral rights or similar law that Contractor now has or in the future may have in and to the Services including without limitation the moral rights prescribed by the United States copyright law to the full extent that such rights may be waived in each respective territory."

"Contractor acknowledges and agrees that as between Contractor and [company name] that [company name] is the owner of the Services, the Work, all derivative works based thereon, and all intellectual property associated with all of the foregoing, in perpetuity throughout the universe in all media now known hereinafter created."

"Contractor agrees that the Compensation is full, adequate and complete compensation for Contractor’s Services including buy-out for distribution and exploitation of the Work, and all derivative works based thereon, in perpetuity in all territories throughout the universe in all means of distribution whether now known or hereinafter created."

It's a disgrace. This means the company can sell my translations to third parties for the next 100 years (or more), without paying a cent to me, and without even crediting me at the end of the subtitles?

Additionally, I know that in many countries, one is not legally able to waive one's moral rights. (I don't know what the law says in Germany, where I am currently living.) Can anyone help me with this one: if the law of my country says I cannot waive my rights, and a company in another country is asking me to sign a contract that demands exactly that, what can I do?


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Sylvano
Local time: 05:48
English to French
Interesting question Nov 2, 2012

thulia wrote:
Can anyone help me with this one: if the law of my country says I cannot waive my rights, and a company in another country is asking me to sign a contract that demands exactly that, what can I do?

I guess what matters is the country where your work is broadcast. But the issue might prove tricky : company in one country, subtitles broadcast some place else, etc.


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BeaDeer  Identity Verified
English to Slovenian
+ ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_rights_%28copyright_law%29#In_Europe Nov 3, 2012

and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_for_hire

Wikipedia is very basic but correct.

Subtitling is in fact a branch of literary translation. The French example shows that unions and authors' associations can have an important role (and in France, the association does have it) in strengthening the position of authors and the translating profession.

Relevant links with lots of info for translators:
http://www.ceatl.eu/translators-rights/legal-status












[Edited at 2012-11-03 13:34 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-11-03 13:38 GMT]


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BeaDeer  Identity Verified
English to Slovenian
+ ...
The law of the country where the translation is published applies Nov 3, 2012

Sylvano wrote:

thulia wrote:
Can anyone help me with this one: if the law of my country says I cannot waive my rights, and a company in another country is asking me to sign a contract that demands exactly that, what can I do?

I guess what matters is the country where your work is broadcast. But the issue might prove tricky : company in one country, subtitles broadcast some place else, etc.


Just replace "published" with broadcast.


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