Translations and copyright

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macandal
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Post by macandal » September 9th, 2009, 8:52 am

So the work is in the public domain, but how does that work with a translation? I mean, are we to assume that the translation is in the public domain too? For example, you want to make a recording of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in a language other than English, how would that work? I need an expert here. Thanks.

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Post by RuthieG » September 9th, 2009, 9:13 am

The translation must also be in the Public Domain in the USA. That is to say, it must, as a rule, have been published before 1923.

For those of us who record in countries where copyright extends for the life of the author or translator plus a number of years (in Europe, author's death + 70 years) we also need to observe the law of our own country. Readers in the USA only have to observe the pre-1923 rule. (There are some exceptions for works published in the USA, whose copyright has not been renewed, but there are not many of these, and even fewer translations into other languages.)

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Post by Leni » September 9th, 2009, 9:14 am

Quoting the Librivox wiki (which can be found by clicking the link on the top of every page in the forum):
Translations and adaptations

The fact that the original version of a work is in the public domain does not mean that all versions of that work will follow suit. Translations and adapted/edited versions will normally carry a brand new copyright.

For example: the original German version of Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka is in the public domain in the United States, since it was first published in 1916. However, the 2002 translation of the book into English by David Wyllie will remain copyrighted until 70 years after David Wyllie's death.

Similarly, William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet is in the public domain in the United States. But the script for the 1996 film William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, which was adapted from the original by Craig Pearce and Baz Luhrmann, will remain copyrighted in the US until 70 years following the death of the longer surviving of the two.
I hope this helps.
Leni
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macandal
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Post by macandal » September 9th, 2009, 11:35 am

I wanted to bring to LibriVox some books I enjoy. I am bilingual, Spanish/English, and I see that there is not much in the way of Spanish recordings. So, I started thinking about books in the PD I enjoy, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Pinocchio, or also books in Spanish that are not here and which may be in the PD. How does one go about figuring out whether or not one can record and post this books here on LibriVox? Again, I want to bring more Spanish recordings to this site. I know some of us would appreciate them. Thank you.

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Post by chocoholic » September 9th, 2009, 12:12 pm

It would be great to have more Spanish recordings! In general, if you can find a Spanish translation that was published before 1923, you may record it for Librivox. Here is the list of Spanish works on Project Gutenberg. Almost everything on that site is public domain in the USA, but it's always best to double-check the publication date.
http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/languages/es

Hope that helps!
Laurie Anne

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Post by Cori » September 9th, 2009, 12:54 pm

Oh dear, that's an unfortunate example in the wiki-explanation, as we actually DO HAVE a recording of Metamorphosis, as translated by David Wyllie. I think we recorded an earlier version of the translation, which WAS released into the public domain, but that's not going to be terribly clear on a first inspection. I might just go and change that to The Trial which has a copyright translation at Project Gutenberg, and so hasn't been / can't be recorded here.
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

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Post by Cori » September 9th, 2009, 12:58 pm

No, wait, The Trial was first published in 1925.

Someone help me out here - I can't think of another example! Or is it clear enough if we note that we recorded the 2001 edition, not 2002..? Or something..?
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

macandal
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Post by macandal » September 9th, 2009, 1:22 pm

Thanks all for your responses. Yes, books in Spanish are needed here in LibriVox. Off the top of my noggin', I would love to record Treasure Island (Stevenson), Count of Montecristo (Dumas), Around the World in 80 Days (Verne), and others. Now, these are all most certainly in the public domain, but their translations, that's where I have my doubts.

Choco, I've checked that link at Project Gutenberg and there's very little there as well. None of the above-mentioned titles (I think) are there. Others that I want to record, to the best of my knowledge, have never been translated into English. That poses another problem, how does one determine whether a work is in the PD or not in a language other than English? I mean, does one have to check the laws of the country where the work was initially published or what? My, my, this is so hard/confusing.

Cori, love your recordings.

I appreciate any suggestions you guys can provide. Thanks.

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Post by RuthieG » September 9th, 2009, 1:25 pm

Cori, I should think you could use the elusive Kierkegaard as an example of the originals all being PD, but nary a PD translation to be found.

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Cori
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Post by Cori » September 9th, 2009, 1:28 pm

The translation can go pretty much on publication date for US law ... pre-23 is okay for anything published anywhere in the world. After that date, it gets messy.

archive.org is another great source for texts, as they reproduce scans, so one can see the publication date actually printed!

Ah, Ruth, that's a great idea! I had a momentary flash of "hasn't someone just started ... " but then I realised that was Wittgenstein and it became clear, yet again, that I am not a natural-born student of philosophy.
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

macandal
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Post by macandal » September 9th, 2009, 1:30 pm

RuthieG wrote:Cori, I should think you could use the elusive Kierkegaard as an example of the originals all being PD, but nary a PD translation to be found.
G*dd#mned Kierkegaard.

Ruthie, that's pretty much the problem I'm encountering. All the recordings I want to make appear to be in the public domain, but I'm a little fuzzy about the translations. My fear is that they will not be in the PD.

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Post by macandal » September 9th, 2009, 1:33 pm

Cori wrote:The translation can go pretty much on publication date for US law ... pre-23 is okay for anything published anywhere in the world. After that date, it gets messy.

archive.org is another great source for texts, as they reproduce scans, so one can see the publication date actually printed!

Ah, Ruth, that's a great idea! I had a momentary flash of "hasn't someone just started ... " but then I realised that was Wittgenstein and it became clear, yet again, that I am not a natural-born student of philosophy.
Cori, the problem with Spanish is that almost nothing was translated pre 1923. Everything (except Classics) were translated post 1950s--quite recently. I'll check archive.org.

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Post by RuthieG » September 9th, 2009, 1:40 pm

Regarding the books originally written in Spanish - anything published before 1923 is in the Public Domain in the USA and so would be just fine for you to record.

I suspect that finding translations (published before 1923) of English/French works, is going to be rather more difficult. As I don't read Spanish, I am in difficulties even looking. The version of La Isla de Tesoro on Wikisource is not PD, I think. :(

Ruth
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Cori
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Post by Cori » September 9th, 2009, 2:01 pm

It's always the problem of finding the texts online, or in a local-ish library (probably a University library rather than town libraries, though sometimes they surprise you.) I'd recommend finding some online book sources IN Spanish, and then browse to see what's available within them. (Is this Cervantes exclusively, for instance?) It's possible to look up various titles - for example, there's definitely some public domain Jane Austen in Spanish and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has an 1891/1921 translation somewhere. There's also Veinte mil leguas de viaje submarino (1869). But none of that tells you how to track down actual copies (or reprints) of those texts.

There are some modern Verne translations here, and I s'pose it might be possible to contact the translator to see if any are in the public domain (the ones I clicked on claimed a copyright.)
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

macandal
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Post by macandal » September 9th, 2009, 2:03 pm

RuthieG wrote:Regarding the books originally written in Spanish - anything published before 1923 is in the Public Domain in the USA and so would be just fine for you to record.

I suspect that finding translations (published before 1923) of English/French works, is going to be rather more difficult. As I don't read Spanish, I am in difficulties even looking. The version of La Isla de Tesoro on Wikisource is not PD, I think. :(

Ruth
Duh! Ruthie, I forgot to check the WikiSource. Thanks. Treasure Island is there. Good. I also found Count of Montecristo, Around the World in 80 Days, etc. That's enough to keep me busy for a few days. I'll keep researching the other ones as I go along. Thanks.

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