Thursday, 29 March 2012

Gili Bar-Hillel and the 800lb Gorilla

Five out of ten times when I tell people I translate literature, they ask me: "Oh, did you translate Harry Potter? I bet you're really rich."

No. I didn't translate Harry Potter. I translate from German to English. Joanne Rowling writes in English and is translated into other languages. Her translator into German is Klaus Fritz. No, I don't know him. No, I have no idea how much he got paid. No, you probably haven't heard of any of the books I've translated.

Rowling's Hebrew translator is Gili Bar-Hillel. She writes a blog in Hebrew that I'd never heard of and can't read. But she's written a post in English that you ought to look at. In it, she details her humiliating treatment by Warner Bros. since they started making films of the Harry Potter series. She's been forced to sign away her intellectual rights to all the terms she coined in her translations, is not credited in the Hebrew versions of the films - and wasn't even given a complimentary ticket to see them. This seems to be contrary to common practice in Israel and it also seems to have been the same for all Rowling's translators.

It's a shameful tale. As Bar-Hillel points out, the small figures Warner Bros. might have had to pay to the translators to use their intellectual property have probably been outweighed by all the lawyers' fees to keep them out of it. Her blog is the only recourse she has to express her anger and humiliation against the Hollywood behemoth. I don't know if she'll read this post – just as Bar-Hillel doesn't know if Joanne Rowling will read hers – but if she does: my heart goes out to you, Gili, and I hope you receive some more tangible support and get what ought to be yours. Well done for taking a stand!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. It's a shame how the big companies deal with all the really creative people. But anyway, keep on translating, reading, blogging...