How to avoid copyright infringement & plagiarism in translation

copyright infringement

The Internet has given us many opportunities, both in terms of access to knowledge and dissemination of information. A large number of friends who are familiar with multiple languages have gradually increased their interest in translating and publishing popular articles or blogs on their websites. However, if you do not pay attention to the use of copyright during this process, it may raise the issue of copyright infringement and plagiarism. You can see many popular sites translating the content to their language and using it in their websites. So, how can we avoid copyright infringement and plagiarism and safeguard the rights and interests of the original author while translating an article?

Obtain the translation copyright and use it reasonably

Translation is the act of converting information from one language to another accurately. It is also a process of transforming a relatively unfamiliar expression into a relatively familiar expression. The content of translation includes text, graphics, and symbols. We can also say that the source language is translated into the target language in transition. This means that the copyright issues in translation is a relatively complex thing and it can be divided into two parts:

The use of copyright of existing content

Translation is an act of reprocessing existing copyrighted works, and the original copyright owner has the right to translate its creation. Therefore, when using the existing copyrighted works, the copyright or authorization of the author should be obtained. Otherwise, it might be called a copyright infringement. As translation is a process of re-creating the original work, the act of just obtaining the right to translate is just a waste. The translation that produces a meaningful application is more meaningful than just the right to obtain the copyright.

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If you have noticed, the copyright and translation rights are quoted at the end of articles on websites and blogs. The translation right here is actually the right to republishing, disseminating, and converting. The actual meaning is created here. This is also an important part of protecting the legal rights of the author. Therefore, the translator should pay attention to these things.

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Copyright in translated content

The translation industry often uses “source language” and “target language” in translation. The “source language” refers to the original text, and the “target language” refers to the processed text. Therefore, when an article, a book, or work is translated from one language to another, it becomes a new product. The copyright owner of this new product enjoys the copyright alone, and the original author cannot claim its copyright on the translated content. Let us take an example; If Shakespeare “Hamlet” was translated into Spanish. The translator has the copyright in the translated version, but he/she should respect the personal rights of Shakespeare and should retain the originality in translation. At the same time, the new copyright authorization should also be limited to the scope of the original copyright and should not be misused.

Copyright consent from the original owner and the owner of the translated content

It is sometimes necessary to obtain authorization from both the original copyright owner and the translation copyright owner.  latter. Before a certain work is translated and published, there might be other publishers who have also taken permission to translate this content. If a publisher has already translated content, other publishers should ask for the right to translate to the author and the publisher.

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1. Reference the author & source properly.

No matter under what circumstances, the Copyright Law describes that you should not obtain the authorization of the original copyright owner if you indicate the source and quote the reference properly. A question may arise here regarding “quantity”. How much content can be used without copyright?  This is a difficult thing to judge, but this issue cannot be passed without judgment. For example, If an article of 100 words consists of 99 words from another article and the source has not been quoted, it will surely fall under copyright infringement. If there are only 10 words taken from another article, and the source and reference have been quoted, it should not fall under copyright infringement.

2. Infringement of translated works

Does translating someone else article into your language fall under copyright infringement? The “Copyright Law” prohibits plagiarism of other people’s art, but we don’t have a clear roadmap to judge such behaviors. It is generally believed that taking authorship of someone else’s work as own is definitely plagiarism. If the content is translated without the author’s authorization, without quoting the author, and by taking the authorship on somebody else article, will it be considered plagiarism? We can’t reach a universal conclusion here but the most important thing is that this act is not of respect. While translating such articles, the translator should at least quote the source and original author.

3. Infringement judgment of compiled works

We quote the name of authors and references while writing an article or thesis for exams. We use some of the excerpts or extract only a portion from it and add supplements and we will eventually write our own article. This type of article is called “compilation.” This kind of compilation, when not authorized by the author or without the source and references quote, might also be copyright infringement.

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The Berne Convention is an international copyright protection convention. The EU members and the United States have copyright protection for the author’s life and death for 70 years. Such regulations do not conflict with the Berne Convention, and the international community also follows it. So, a translator translating content should also follow this principle.

5. Copyright issues of content that have exceeded the term of protection

As mentioned above, copyright becomes a public copyrighted work after the protection period, which means that anyone can use it without any authorization. If this type of work is collated, translated, assembled, or compiled, the author of the work after compilation will have the corresponding copyright. If the article is translated, it will also require the authorization and consent of the new author.

6. Discussion on copyright issues of online works

The development of the Internet has made content spread much faster. People like to see the same content in different languages. And, translation comes in handy here. But, how to avoid copyright infringement & plagiarism in translation? It is suggested that you should contact the author himself or at least obtain the author’s consent or authorization before translating the content. If you can’t contact the author or the copyright owner, you should at least quote the author’s name and website.

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