Friday, 9 December 2011

Fair Play for Literary Translators

CEATL is the European Council of Literary Translators' Associations, and has just published a "hexalogue" of six simple demands. Here they are:

Hexalogue or Code of Good Practice

The Six Commandments of ‘fair-play’ in literary translation, adopted by CEATL’s General Assembly on 14 May, 2011. 
1. Licensing of rights
The licensing of rights for the use of the translation shall be limited in time to a maximum of five years. It shall be subject to the restrictions and duration of the licensed rights of the original work. Each licensed right shall be mentioned in the contract.
2. Fees
The fee for the commissioned work shall be equitable, enabling the translator to make a decent living and to produce a translation of good literary quality.
3. Payment terms
On signature of the contract, the translator shall receive an advance payment of at least one third of the fee. The remainder shall be paid on delivery of the translation at the latest.
4. Obligation to publish
The publisher shall publish the translation within the period stipulated in the contract, and no later than two years after the delivery of the manuscript.
5. Share in profit
The translator shall receive a fair share of the profits from the exploitation of his/her work, in whatsoever form it may take, starting from the first copy.
6. Translator’s name
As author of the translation, the translator shall be named wherever the original author is named.
In my modest experience, we are still some way from achieving point 5 in the UK, point 2 in Germany and point 6 pretty much anywhere in the world. 


X.Trapnel said...

I'm not sure I understand Point 1. The idea is that the publisher can only license rights to a given translation for a maximum of 5 years? Or is the idea to limit exclusivity of translation rights to 5 years? I guess I don't know enough about the context of translation rights to understand what this is aimed at.

kjd said...

As far as I understand, X., the idea is that the publisher of the translation only holds the right to publish it for 5 years, and this right then reverts to the translator. They can then draw up a new contract, probably involving a new payment for the use of the translation. Or the translator can offer their translation to another publisher. Rather than the publisher putting out reprint after reprint with the translator only ever getting paid once.

At least I think that's what it means.