Translation Difficulties: How to Protect Your Copyrights in Translations

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Translation copyright issues are often very painful for translators. One of the most frustrating cases is a violation of your right to pay from the publisher or author you work for. Many are negotiating with publishers or authors, signing a contract for work. This helps to resolve all financial issues and penalties. In order to help with this decision, we have collected copyright information, as well as tips on how not to lose the fee for your work.

What you need to know about translation and copyright laws.

Translation is generally considered derivative work. Although in every country this concept is interpreted differently, there is still a generally accepted opinion that translation is considered a derivative object of copyright, precisely because it is already an arrangement from the original language into another language of the existing text.

Even if this is a derivative interpretation, translations have the right to authorship and can be registered as an original work, since a translation, especially a literary one, requires considerable creative effort, work and skill on the part of the translator.

However, it is important to have permission from the author, company, or person who owns the copyrights to the work that you are translating. This is usually prescribed in the form of a contract with the publisher, which sets out the responsibilities of each of the parties. In the same place, the translator can prescribe the conditions for observing his rights and payment deadlines.

In Ukraine, copyright is enshrined in law. Thus, the Law of Ukraine "On Copyright and Related Rights" defines translation as a derivative work. In accordance with the Law, derivative work is considered to be work that is a creative processing of another work, and at the same time does not distort its content and meaning. (Section 1 of the Law).

It should be noted that in addition to the property right to transfer, the translator must comply with the author’s non-property right to the inviolability of his work. This right is intended to protect the author from any distortion of his work, encroachments on his creative plan, the author’s reputation. When translating, only its external form of the language can be changed. Artistic images, symbols, characters must be preserved. In general, copyright in a work expires 70 years after the death of the author. In this case, if, for example, you want to translate Aeneid Virgil from Latin into Japanese, you can do this without worrying about copyright infringement.

As a result, we conclude that the property rights to translate a work ordered in a translation agency will, by default, belong jointly to the customer and the translation agency. If the customer wants to leave property rights only to himself, this should be specifically stipulated in the contract.