Translation copyright/ownership in the UK
Thread poster: Paulo Fino

Paulo Fino
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:24
English to Russian
+ ...
Aug 29, 2011

Hello!

I have a question regarding non-literary translation in the UK.

Do the translators own the copyright to their translations as is the case with literary translations, and if yes, can they forbid the use of these translations, and under what conditions?

To clarify, I have been asked to translate a series of scripts for a TV contest. The work was commissioned on a verbal contract with only the payment and dates set. I haven't been paid in time and had to sue the commissioning company. I would like to forbid them from using the translations until they pay me and acquire the work I have made. Is this possible?

Any help will be much appreciated.
Thank you!


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 21:24
German to English
+ ...
Why Aug 29, 2011

should there be a difference to literary translation?

If there was no written contract, you could argue that you retain copyright (that would be the default situation - anyone who creates a text retains copyright in it until it is assigned. You can then assume a term in teh agreement - they get copyright in return for you receiving payment - so: in this case they don't have copyright.

I would certainly either threaten to sue for breach of copyright and to file for an injunction - or go directly to a lawyer and get him to get an injunction. I don't think you can do this without a lawyer.


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Paulo Fino
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:24
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your advice David Aug 29, 2011

This is more of a question of principle.

I think they will pay me eventually, but in breach of the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (interest) Act 1998. They keep citing company policy. So I sued them through the Small Claims court.

Now I just wanted to add something more to that by threatening copyright breach. Since the translations I did were for use in a project they are doing for a client of theirs - a big international TV company - the threat could make them feel uncomfortable and rethink their attitude. So I just wanted to make sure I have a solid base for anything I say to them in case they get stubborn and I am forced to take this further.

[Edited at 2011-08-29 22:36 GMT]


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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 21:24
German to English
+ ...
Actually Aug 30, 2011

This is an approach I have always argued should be used more often by translators who haven't been paid. You indeed have a claim for breach of copyright against the CLIENT, and the threat of an injunction on the client should get any late payer to shift his back end a little! (It has worked for me).

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Translation copyright/ownership in the UK

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