30 sep. 2011

¿Te preguntaste alguna vez quién tradujo lo que estás leyendo?

30 de septiembre
¡Feliz día traductores!
San Jerónimo siglo XXI
¿Te preguntaste alguna vez quién tradujo lo que estás leyendo?

Me llevó treinta años traducir la Biblia. Me dicen que aún es muy popular, pero para ser honesto, jamás pensé que trascendería en el tiempo.

¿El secreto? Cuando leas algo y lo sientas como si fuera tu propia voz susurrándote al oído, preguntate quién lo tradujo. Los traductores, profesionales hoy en día, dedican el corazón y el conocimiento para que percibas la lectura naturalmente tuya.

¿Cómo lo hacemos? Pues bien, los tiempos cambiaron y existen herramientas muy diversas. ¡Me contaron que sustituyeron la pluma por un ratón! A pesar de los cambios, los traductores continuamos distinguiéndonos por la dedicación y el compromiso que asumimos con el proceso de la traducción y con el resultado que ponemos en tus manos.


Por cierto, me comentó un pajarito, Twitter, que ya no son tan solitarios, porque pueden reunirse en un lugar llamado Facebook. Creo que voy a aparecer por allí un momento para ver qué onda.

25 sep. 2011

The future for translators looks bright, but they will have to reinvent the profession first [:o)]

Tuesday, 13 September 2011 | Jaap van der Meer 

Seven predictions and a survey presented at the 19th FIT Conference, San Francisco, August 2011

Translators in the 21st century find themselves in a difficult position.On the one hand there is a steadily growing demand for translation as a result of increasing global trade and communication generally. On the other hand it becomes harder and harder for the professional translator to meet this demand. Delivery times grow shorter and prices go down.
Technology is often thought of as an answer to this kind of pressure. But along with the technology come many new challenges. It is simply impossible for a translator who is trained in the language arts to keep up with the technology. And if she tries, frustration grows when she finds out that translation tools do not really work together very well. (See report Individual translators and data exchange standards.)
Then there are the economics. As the owner of a small business, translators must weigh the return-on-investment on time and money very carefully. Tools do not come for free and every new tool takes time to be mastered. What if these same tools – or machine translation – one day take over the job of human translators, as many of our colleagues fear. You might prefer to live on another planet, or at least work in another profession.
For the 19th FIT Conference held in San Francisco, 1-4 August 2011, TAUS ran a survey among the translators attending the conference. This article references a summary of the survey, and then makes seven predictions as a follow up to the keynote I gave to close the FIT event. The conclusion: the future for translators looks bright, but they will have to reinvent the profession first.

Crisis. What crisis?
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, sixty-four (37%) of the survey respondents reported that translation rates continue to be under pressure. There seems to be a slight decline in translation volume, while the palette of languages seems to be broadening slightly. Thirty-seven respondents (21%) see business continuing as usual, while respectively 12% and 10% of them see opportunities for automation and innovation in the currently unstable market.
Which of the following technologies and/or innovations will translators apply in the coming two years? Sixty percent of the respondents say ‘no’ to machine translation, while 19% are already using it, and 21% expect they will use MT within the next two years. The main concerns about MT are the poor quality of MT output (76%) and the poor quality of source documents (54%). Those who look at MT on the bright side see cost reduction as the greatest benefit (39%) and the possibility of real-time delivery of translation as a secondary benefit (35%).
A majority of the respondents are interested in sharing translation memories and terminology: 35% already do so and 39% expect to be sharing language data within two years. However, another much larger poll by ProZ.com of 1,000 translators indicates that 49% would not consider sharing their translation memories. Translators are concerned about ownership of TMs and their relevance to the job at hand. But they do see the benefits of terminology searches of massive TM resources and the productivity gains these bring.

The future looks bright, but …
… change is the name of the game. And reinventing the profession is extremely hard if your days are spent just getting the jobs done and trying to make a modest living. Yet, for the first time in the history of the planet, translation is a really strategic activity. Thanks to Google Translate, Yahoo! Babelfish and Microsoft Bing, every soul on our planet now knows what translation means.
Hundreds of millions people press the translate button every day which makes them realize how difficult it is to get a good, accurate translation. As professionals we must realize that our community is far too small (just 250,000 or so professional translators in a world of 6,000 languages?) to serve the needs of seven billion citizens.
We are only scratching the surface. As professional translators – and as a global translation industry – our mission is to help the world communicate better. (That sounds better than being a lawyer or a banker, right?) For we now have the means to deliver on that mission. We simply need to find a way to do it properly. Here is how TAUS sees the future in seven predictions.

1. MT is here to stay
Let’s face it: machine translation will never be perfect. Every speaker of a language has the right to introduce new words, give existing words new meanings and change the spelling and grammar of his language. The point is: that’s what people do every day – witness Twitter or online chat, popular songs or political revolutions.
Computers just cannot keep up with these evolving nuances and associations in hundreds of domains and linguaspheres created by speakers of just one language. Yet, MT for all its mechanical faults is here to stay. Why? For the simple reason that we humans just cannot deliver enough translations in real-time.
Two other factors will also influence the rapid growth of MT. First, MT is getting better and better as we keep feeding the engines with human translated sentences to improve their domain knowledge and we keep tweaking the rules to improve the word order and forms. Second, a new generation of users are growing up, they are more forgiving, and open to self-service. Users may even step in and offer better terminology and forms of expression as a way to help others and themselves.
MT is here to stay and will be called “translation”. It will be embedded on every website, mobile and car app. Translation will become a utility, just like electricity, water and Internet: a basic resource and a basic human right.

2. High-quality translation will gain recognition
As machine translation becomes so universally available, it is clear that there isn’t just one single translation of a text that fits all. To differentiate their product offerings and appeal to specific customer groups, buyers will recognize the need for high-quality translation - call it personalization, transcreation or hyper-localization. This means that, machines will not replace human translators.
On the contrary, non-perfect MT output will stimulate the need for high-quality translation in a broad range of communication situations. The challenge we face as an industry is to agree on the criteria and the measurements for the level of quality that is needed for each situation. Sometimes MT is simply not an option. Sometimes MT is the only option.

3. Post-editing will come and go
Information travels fast and loses its value quickly. This is especially true for news, entertainment, online shopping and customer support content, but increasingly also for business-to-business and government information.
There is a fundamental shift from static “cast in stone” content to dynamic “on the fly” content. Instead of one or two releases per year, companies are shipping product updates on a weekly if not daily basis. And consumers, citizens and patients are increasingly sharing their reviews, tips and tricks in user blogs and social media in almost real time. Any chunk of information may be relevant and interesting to someone somewhere.
The key attraction of MT in this new information age is that it can deliver real-time translation to meet these changes. Potential cost reduction is only a secondary benefit. And the widespread fear that all human translators will soon be downgraded to mere post-editors of MT output is ungrounded.
Why? Well, in the next few years post-editing will grow quickly, but then we will see it diminish. But if there is no time for translation, then there is time for post-editing either. Real-time is real-time, right? In any case, MT technology will get better, using machine intelligence to learn from its mistakes and not make them again.
Translators who choose to work with computers will customize and personalize MT engines to specific tasks, customers and domains, rather than do stupid, repetitive error fixing. They will be promoted to ‘language quality advisors’ if you like.

4. Translators win when supply chains get shorter
More so than most other industries, the translation industry consists of a complex cascade of suppliers. There may be three or four levels between the translator and the end-user: translation agency, global multi-language vendor, corporate translation department and often an external quality reviewer or subject matter expert.
All these functions add a cost to translation but are they adding any real value in proportion to that cost? Tasks are often replicated and functions overlap. Disintermediation (i.e., ‘cutting out the middleman’) hasn’t really bitten into the translation industry yet as it has in the travel and banking industries, for example. But change is on the way, under pressure from the overarching need to translate more words into more languages.
Corporate and government buyers will analyze their supply chains to reduce their costs, and functions such as project management, quality assurance, vendor selection and translation memory management, will probably be streamlined, simplified or shared. Yet there will be no question about the critical role of the translator at the end of the chain.
Even though MT will be used to translate content streams requiring real-time translation, there will always be a need for a professional translator to tell good from bad language in the communication process.

5. The list of languages keeps growing
As global business is shifting from an export mentality to a world of open trading on a flat playing field, the nature of publishing and communications is also changing fundamentally.
In the old 20th century model the global manufacturer and publisher used to push information out to the world. They would select their markets, pick their most important language communities and translate their own instructions for use, brochures and web pages.
They would probably start with four to six languages and gradually add more languages if the markets prove to be worthwhile. In the new 21st century model, companies are realizing that their customers are not sitting there waiting for the information to be pushed out by manufacturers and publishers.
They are browsing the Internet and pulling down information wherever they find it. And if they can’t find it, they write their own reviews and comments that yet others may then translate to help their local peers. In the old world, content was owned by publishers; in the new world content is shared and earned.
In this radically changing environment, the range of languages for content is constantly growing. Successful global companies need to facilitate communications in a hundred-or more languages instead of the old standard set of seven or at the most twenty.
Translators in many more countries will benefit from this “democratization” of globalization.

6. Sharing data becomes the norm
Our concept of a ‘translation memory’ is about to change. Translation memories and translation memory tools have long been cultivated as our proprietary productivity weapon, perhaps offering a competitive edge in an environment where one fifth of professional translators (according to a recent ProZ.om poll) still don’t even use translation memories.
Yet, we have now reached the limits of potential productivity gains, and, let’s face it, translation memory technology itself – in its current and mostly used form – is no longer state-of-the-art. Most translation memory tools are stuck in a technology time warp and cannot leverage the power of corpus linguistics (see article The Future is Corpus Linguistics). A new generation of translation productivity tools will emerge that allow us to leverage any length of strings of text from very large corpora of translations.
These new tools will in many respects be using features and components that emerged from statistical MT technology, except for the fact that they leave the professional translator in full control of the processes. They will unleash the translational power hidden inside very large corpora of text. They will allow us to do semantic searches and clustering, synonym identification, automatic cleaning and correction of language data, sentiment analyses and predictive translations.
In anticipation of this next generation translation technology, many translators and companies have already started consolidating their translation memory data into large, searchable repositories. Some (more than you think) are even harvesting these language data from the Internet, meaning that they have computers crawling translated web sites, aligning the sentences from these web sites, and reconstructing translation memory files.
Call them pirates if you like. But as we have seen in other industries, they are the drivers of innovation. We at TAUS truly believe that it is this kind of innovation that is needed to unleash the power of the translation industry and enable it to prosper.
The TAUS Data Association was established in 2008 as a legal, not-for-profit member-driven organization aimed at hosting and sharing translation memories for all stakeholders in the global translation industry. The publicly accessible and searchable database already contains four billion words of high-quality translation data in 350-plus language pairs.

7. Translation becomes a business of choices
The future of translation either looks bright or gloomy: it depends on whether you want to change, reinvent yourself and adapt. Admittedly, this is not an easy choice. Nor is there a lot of time to consider all the options, but at least translators now have the luxury of choosing. In the past, you became a translator and you were in it for life. Unless of course you became a literary translator, in which case none of the above applies.
Today, you can choose to be a ‘boutique’ translator, specializing in a domain and providing hyper-localization or transcreation services. In this case, you will drift away from the original concept of a translator once you start specializing in your domain. You may be asked to create local content instead of translating text written for a different culture.
You may be asked to do brand checking for new product names. Your job title may change to ‘language consultant’ or ‘communications adviser’. If what you like is linguistics and computers, you may choose to become a specialist in training domain- and customer-specific MT engines, or in translation optimization, or in new functions such as language data cleaning, data selection on the basis of semantic search, search engine optimization, or sentiment and cultural analysis using customer feedback data.
The availability of language data in so many languages will open a much larger range of choices for specialization and innovation. And yes, you can also opt for post-editing machine translation output. Not so much fun if it is not your first choice, but in many ways this option is similar to the first wave of automation our profession experienced in the 1980s with the arrival of translation memory tools.
The good news now, is that the MT engines will soon learn from the corrections made by post-editors, so you will not have to make the same corrections again and again. And translators (or whatever their new title might be) will become much less solitary and grow closer to their colleagues and end customers.
Collaborative networks will bring language workers together. And buyers of translation and language-related services will eliminate one or two handovers in the supply chain and be able to connect directly with you.
Translation may, in many ways, become a commodity and a utility but that does not spell the end of the profession. On the contrary, it will stimulate the need for differentiation, specialization and value added services. It is up to the world’s translators to rise to the challenge, and open up to these changes, and reinvent their future.

Source: TAUS 

2 sep. 2011

Reseña de la charla para estudiantes sobre fijación de honorarios en el CTPCBA

Por Mayra Cavilla

La charla comenzó con una pregunta del panel: ¿Por qué, habiendo tantos traductores profesionales, el mercado laboral solicita estudiantes? La respuesta no tardó en llegar: la razón es la explotación. Aún sabiendo las carencias y las deficiencias que tenemos los estudiantes, muchas agencias nos buscan para aprovecharse.

Esas agencias también buscan fijar los honorarios que pagan a los traductores (y estudiantes) y dicen: “Nosotros pagamos X” cuando, en realidad, es el traductor quien debería decir “Yo cobro Y”. En cualquier rubro, es el profesional quien establece el valor de su trabajo, y no quien lo solicita. Por ejemplo: nadie va al médico y le dice “Yo tengo $20 para pagarle la consulta”, sino que es el profesional quien fija sus honorarios y dice “La consulta tiene X valor”.

Por otro lado, también se debatió la pregunta ¿qué es adquirir experiencia? y si realmente trabajar para una agencia explotadora es ganar experiencia. También se aclaró que para cada prueba de traducción corresponde una corrección y una devolución, que muchas agencias no hacen. En muchos casos, también, los traductores o estudiantes de traducción terminan realizando una traducción gratis disfrazada de prueba. Hay que tener en cuenta la cantidad de palabras que tiene la prueba de traducción.

Además, se planteó una situación típica que muchas agencias utilizan como excusa para pagar honorarios bajísimos: “Si yo al cliente le cobro X, ¿cómo te voy a pagar Y? Se aclaró que la agencia es un intermediario entre el cliente final y el traductor que realiza el encargo. Cliente y traductor no tienen contacto, por lo tanto, no tienen relación. Ergo, ya que el traductor no participa de los beneficios de esa relación, tampoco tiene por qué participar en las pérdidas. ¿Por qué tiene que correr el traductor con los riesgos y las pérdidas del intermediario? Por ejemplo: si el cliente no le paga a la agencia, es problema de la agencia, no del traductor. La agencia debe pagarle igual.

También se habló de que en nuestro país las profesiones liberales están desreguladas. La conclusión fue que, aunque hubiese un marco legal, siempre “hecha la ley, hecha la trampa”. Por eso, la mejor solución a los problemas de honorarios es crear conciencia. Además, se aclaró que la fijación de honorarios no es subjetiva. Un estudiante debe tener en cuenta que la fijación de honorarios no responde a la afirmación “Yo necesito X”, sino que hay que tener en cuenta que formamos parte de un colectivo de profesionales. Hoy podré estar bien cobrando $0.10 ctvs por palabra, pero hay que tener una proyección de futuro y no ser cortoplacista. Y tener en cuenta también que por cada traducción que hace un estudiante a una tarifa irrisoria para ganarse “unos mangos” para salir el fin de semana, del otro lado tal vez haya un profesional con una familia que tiene que pagar las cuentas. Para el estudiante, ¿trabajar es una necesidad real o lo hace sólo por el afán de “ganar experiencia”? Muchos se apuran a empezar a traducir cuando todavía están estudiando y terminan siendo explotados.

Se habló también sobre la globalización y sus efectos: si bien como beneficio trajo un aumento exponencial en el flujo de traducciones, también abrió el mercado local al internacional y benefició la aparición de agencias explotadoras, piratas y estafadoras. (Cabe aclarar que en todo momento se habló de agencias explotadoras y se dijo desde un primer momento que, aunque pocas, existen agencias que pagan bien).

En cuanto a las CAT tools, se habló de los descuentos por repetición. Para ejemplificar, se contaron dos anécdotas. La primera trataba sobre un cliente que no quería pagar la repetición de los artículos, a lo que la traductora respondió que entonces le entregaba esos espacios en blanco y que el cliente tendría que rellenarlos después. La segunda era similar y trataba de un cliente que no quería pagar por los caracteres en blanco (en Europa algunas veces se cotiza por carácter), a lo que la traductora respondió que lastraduccionesseentregaránsinespacios.

Hacia el final de la charla, se presentó una grilla muy sencilla realizada en Excel para ilustrar la pregunta: “Con estos honorarios, ¿cobro o pago para trabajar? Hay que tener en cuenta que lo que uno gana traduciendo no es el total que le cobra al cliente, sino que existen gastos fijos (y también variables) que el traductor debe afrontar y que el flujo de trabajo no siempre es parejo. Como gastos, se mencionó, por ejemplo: publicidad, monotributo, mantenimiento de cuenta, Internet, hosting, teléfono fijo y celular, viáticos, matrícula, capacitación, mantenimiento y compra de equipamiento (PC) y de insumos, gastos de librería, entre otros.

Como una posible solución a los problemas de honorarios, se mencionó que un estudiante puede cotizar lo establecido por el Colegio y al mismo tiempo buscar un corrector. Así, el profesional puede trabajar, el estudiante SÍ gana experiencia porque recibe una devolución y no se deprime el mercado.
La pregunta final fue: ¿la situación actual es un círculo sin salida? Es un círculo sin salida si no tomamos conciencia. Hay que tener una ética colectiva. La agencia (intermediario) existe porque existe el traductor, no a la inversa. El traductor tiene derecho a vivir dignamente de su profesión y está en nosotros jerarquizarla.

Fuente: Mayra Cavilla - http://www.facebook.com/mayra.cavilla

Copyright and the translator. Who owns your translations?

Translators too often sign away their work without realising its financial worth.Corinne Blésius clarifies the legal position over ownership rights.

Thousands of pages of original work are produced by professional translators every day. But what happens to them?

Are you happy to simply part, without looking back, from every single bit of text you create in your own right, although you are actually working from an original?

Do you ever wonder what becomes of the work you are proud of and do you ever regret that this work remains anonymous? Would you really mind if someone chose to make changes to your creation without informing you?

Finally, what if the same piece of translation was to bring you much more financial reward than you originally were expecting? These are just a few compelling ideas and thought-provoking questions which were raised by James Ware, IP lawyer and partner at Davenport Lyons, in the course of his presentation on translation copyright – The ownership of translations, a perspective from the UK – at the ITI Annual Conference on Saturday, 13 September 2003.

Having attended the 8th Paris Bourse financial translation conference organised by Chris Durban last June, where James Ware explored similar fascinating concepts, I was pleased he was among the guest speakers at the ITI Conference, as I believe that the question of translation copyright is an imperative issue which we, as translators and authors, cannot afford to ignore. The following is a summary of James Ware's presentations. This article is intended to deal with general principles only, and to provide a general guide to the area. The principles will not always apply and expert advice will often be needed for individual cases and disputes.

What is copyright?
Copyright is an entirely legal concept. Under the Anglo-Saxon system, it is a property right, protected by statute, which subsists in literary works. In order to be recognised by law, it has to have a material expression and involves action. As an Anglo-Saxon concept it was originally developed by English judges and was then taken up in North America by the American courts. It generally equates with the Continental European concept of copyright but some of the subtler forms of enforcement and the documentation that is required are different.
The term 'copyright' is selfexplanatory. It is the right to copy. This means that if you own the copyright in a literary creation you can prevent other people copying your work, issuing copies to the public, lending, renting out your work, and performing it in public (but not in private). You can also stop them from broadcasting it, making an adaptation or a translation of it.
This last point is important because a translator can only translate or adapt a work (to the extent that an adaptation is involved) with the consent of the original copyright owner. However, if this consent is granted and the translation is then produced, the work of the translator – who essentially is an author, too – is itself protected by copyright.

Moral rights
The French, through the concept of 'droits d'auteur', introduced the idea of 'moral rights' from the earliest time that they started to protect the rights of authors when Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote his natural Rights of Man. An author has a personal interest in his creation and has the right to be identified as such. In this context, this right is distinct from the ownership of copyright.
This idea was completely alien to the Anglo-Saxons who had no concept of moral rights. Selling your copyright to a publisher meant that he could do what he liked with your work, tell anyone to do what he or she wanted to do with it and there was nothing you could do about it.
However, in France it was important to look after the interests of authors who were respected and had inalienable rights to protect their works and their honour from abuse. As a result of the UK becoming an EU member and the EU harmonising copyright, moral rights became integral to UK copyright law as well.

What are the basic moral rights?
You are entitled to be identified as the author of your work and thus as the author of your translation, unless you sign a waiver to someone in an Anglo-Saxon jurisdiction. It is unlikely that you can alienate this right in France. It may be that under French and/or other laws the principle would be accepted for certain kinds of translations should this kind of work not require identification.
But the basic principle is that you are entitled to be credited with your own work.
You are also entitled to prevent other people being credited with your own work, so there is a negative right. If someone tries to put his or her name to your translation, you can try to prevent him or her from doing so. This means there is a positive right to be identified and a positive right to stop other people claiming that they translated your creation, leaving the impression that your translation was done by the original author rather than by a professionally qualified translator like you. Moral rights are not to be ignored and continue to exist (regardless of whether or not you own the copyright).
Consequently, as an author, you have the right to equitable remuneration if your work is used.

How and where is copyright protected?
Copyright is protected everywhere throughout the world. It is protected by virtue of local laws.
If you make a translation into English of a French work in France, your translation will be protected in France under French law. If you do the same in England, it will be protected under English law; in America under American law.
Therefore there is no unified legal system governing the protection of your works around the world. You have to examine the law of each separate jurisdiction to find out what rights you have as an author/translator.

The Berne Convention, TRIPs and WIPO
The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was finalised in 1886 as the first instrument of international copyright law. The approach was to establish an international baseline standard, to which all member countries were supposed to adhere in their domestic legislation. The means by which individual countries chose to implement the standards under the Convention were left to their authorities. Like other instruments of public international law, the Berne Convention did not have specific measures of enforcement. Instead, the system was based largely on the aspiration towards international consensus in relation to copyright. These conventions form what is called reciprocal arrangements. There are few countries in the world that are not party to the Berne Convention, which means basically you have rights almost anywhere in the world.
However, important local differences are in place and local law will always be the law which applies.
International copyright standards have largely been developed through three distinct processes: the TRIPs/World Trade Organisation system, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and the Copyright Harmonisation Directives of the European Union, whose international influence far exceeds their regional effects. In all three processes, attempts have been made to include moral rights, but none of them has been able even to generate a proposal for an internationally viable standard. And there are various and holy alliances between patent owners, trademark owners and copyright owners who are keen to defend their interests.
The TRIPs Agreements resulted in a movement towards the extension of copyright on a uniformed basis throughout the world.
As far as the length of copyright is concerned, there are now longer and longer periods of copyright and companies such as Disney have been very instrumental in defending the extension of copyright because they wanted to protect image rights in their cartoons.

Does copyright subsist in a translation?
Even if you are infringing someone else's copyright or even if you are unlawfully translating someone else's work, your work will itself qualify for protection as an original copyright.
As a translator you have created something original. As long as you have not copied someone else's translation and providing you have not pledged your right to someone else, you still own the copyright.
Who owns the translation?
The author owns the translation. As a freelance translator, you as the author own the translation. However if you are an employee or a salaried worker, your employer is the owner of your translation. Authorship does not necessarily mean ownership in copyright terms. Under American law you can sign away your author's rights.

What happens if an agency commissions you?
Subject to contract and regardless of contract, you will be the first owner of copyright. You may then give that copyright away, but you are still the owner of the copyright in the translation.
Consequently, there is a layering of copyright. There is the copyright in the original language and there is then a copyright in the translation. The latter is often called a dependent copyright because it is dependent on another copyright for its existence.
As an example, Proust who died in 1922 is out of copyright in the UK (he may still be in copyright in France due to different rules) but the Scott Moncrieff translations of the works of Proust and their adaptations by later translators remain in copyright.
So, in terms of layered rights, there is a first copyright with the original work. There is then a second copyright, which is dependent on the original work. And the person who makes the revision of the works will also have a copyright.
There is another curious issue. If you are translating from Norwegian into English and then someone uses your translation to translate from English into French, you as the translator into English are entitled to charge a fee for the translation of your English translation into French. This is because – as long as you have not given that right away – somebody is layering another copyright on your copyright.

What if your translation has been partly computergenerated? Who owns the computer-generated work?
Broadly speaking, if you press the button, then you own the computergenerated work. The person who operates the program owns the copyright, and not the creator of the program.
However the substrata material in the computer is relevant. If the computer is simply borrowing large chunks of phrases that someone else has generated, then you may find that in creating the computergenerated work – although the final product may be yours – you may also be infringing other people's rights.
On this basis, how do you work out a relationship with the person who commissioned you? It is important to remember that it is hard to reverse a relationship once it has been established for a long time.
Several factors come into play: is the relationship properly governed by contract; what are the implicit rights granted on a translation; do you simply invoice for your services?
If you are commissioned to do a translation and this translation is used in a company report, there is no immediate problem. The translation is printed and goes out. There is what is called an implied license. If it is also contemplated that that company report will be placed on the internet, then there may be an implied licence included as part of a permanent installation on the internet. But it may not be implied that that company report or large extracts of it will be included in a book about the company written by someone else reviewing the affairs of the company five years later. In which case, you, as the author of the translation, may be able to request another fee for the translation. In the same way as a photographer, you may be entitled to repeat fees for the use of your translation.

How long is the translation protected for?
You are the author of a literary work, therefore you are entitled to exactly the same protection as any author of any literary work. Throughout most of the western world – but not all of it – you are protected for your life plus 70 years. This is the period of protection of copyright in literary works.

Can a translation float free from the original work?
If you translate a work that is in the public domain – like Shakespeare into French – you own all the copyright in your translation.
However, if you happen to translate a work that has never been published before, there is something called the archive right.
There are special rules governing works that have never been published before. In the UK – at least until 1989 – the original author of an unpublished work would have protection whenever they died for 50 years after first publication. There is a curious overlapping right, designed to encourage people to publish manuscripts from monasteries and strange unpublished works, that gives the archive right to the person who first publishes something that has never been published before.
Take the example of Proust again, who died more than 70 years ago. If we assume his translator Scott Moncrieff did not die, we could say that the copyright of Scott Moncrieff has floated free from the original copyright and that Moncrieff is now entitled to effectively 100% of the income from that translation.
So as a translator, you can have your copyright float free from the original author at some point. A translation can float free and it can float free in layers.

Database rights
As a European right, this is relatively recent. A database can be defined as a collection of independent works, data or other materials, which are arranged in a systematic or methodical way and are individually accessible by electronic means.
Databases are not literary works and have therefore no copyright attached to them. In order to have a literary work, the creation needs to have substance; it is not a list of words or sets of columns. Short phrases don't carry copyright. Long phrases, long words, which are unique, do.
Databases include materials such as telephone directories, lists of words and dictionaries, (although a dictionary has a compilation literary copyright attached to it). The duration of database rights is 15 years only.

Who owns the database rights?
The maker owns the rights – the person who takes the initiative in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of a database and assumes the risk of investing in, obtaining, verification or presentation shall be regarded as the maker of, and as having made, the database.
If you put together a database you own it as the maker and the owner of the database. The value of the database on its own for you is that you can sell it to someone else.
If you are using a commercial proprietary database you won't be infringing that database if you use it for the purpose for which it was licensed to you and for which you bought it, which, in the case of translations, is to make translations. Therefore nobody can claim a share of your translation. Because your translation becomes a literary work and is not itself a database, it carries copyright.
It is thus important to make a careful distinction between the use of the database and the software in which it is embodied in the making of a new work and the actual copying of the database as such and the copying of the literary work, which forms part of the database.
As an example, if you create a database using a proprietary one, adding your own words and then putting it in a text file and giving it to a friend as a translator, then you would be infringing the database right of the person who created the proprietary database.
And if your friend gives it to someone else without your permission, that friend will be also infringing your database right.
But that does not prevent them owning the product of the use of a database. As far as the issue of translation memory is concerned, in order to be protected by copyright your work needs to have some substance attached to it. Whole sentences will have a copyright. Words or short sentences do not qualify. You may assign your right by signing a contract. If nothing is signed, the copyright is not given away but a licence of some form will have been given away.

International aspects
It is essential to remember that copyright is a very international form of law. There are different standards depending on the country. Each country implements the basic provisions of the European law and the Berne Convention according to their customs and their underlying legal structure.

Practical issues
The contractual nexus is important. Whether you work for an agency, on a regular basis, or on a one off basis, you are within a contractual framework and your past conduct will affect what you are now entitled to. It is best to structure the correspondence in a way which makes it clear that the rights you are giving away in your translation are restricted and that the translation is for a particular purpose, possibly for a limited amount of time and for a limited kind of publication. This means that a second or subsequent payments may be available to you each time your translation is used.

Copyright: an empowering tool for the translator
Regardless of any mental block that we, as translators, may have regarding the impracticability of integrating copyright within our work and of the complexity of enforcing those rights, we cannot afford to be complacent in this respect.
Regardless of the financial aspect of what the concept means for our incomes, we can use copyright to strengthen our identities as professionals, to take a stand, and assume responsibility for what we create. There are a number of ways we can strengthen our profession and our credibility. When we sign our translations, draw up invoices or compile our translation files, we should incorporate a short description in the small print of our terms and conditions. And we should also make sure we monitor the use of our translations. And we should ensure that any piece of work is completed without giving away more than we are prepared to give away.
The reality is that most of us spend hours every week in front of a computer screen, trying to make sense, usually on our own, of highly complex documents requiring large amounts of mental energy. Do we really want to stay anonymous for the rest of our careers?

Source: Translator Corinne Blésius, United Kingdom.