Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Copyright and Contracts

Things have been hectic for me lately, so I didn’t get this posted as quickly as I was hoping to, but here finally is the video of the panel Translation Rights and Translation Wrongs that I moderated at the PEN World Voices Festival on May 1, 2011. The panel featured Erach Screwvala, who specializes in publishing law – copyrights and contracts in particular – and who appears to have a soft spot for translators, as one of his subspecialties is the translation contract,
that odd hybrid between original and derivative work. A translation is subject to copyright like any other creative work, but its copyright is linked to that of the original on which it is based. Things can quickly get confusing. But here Screwvala lays out the basic issues clearly and comprehensibly. He is joined by two writers who are also translators, Evan Fallenberg of Israel and Monika Zgustová of Spain, and I devote part of the panel to asking these two translator-authors about their double careers and the ways in which their writing and translating inform and nourish one another. The panel begins with me giving a two-minute summary of the role translation and translators play within PEN and ends with a Q&A session. If you want to skip directly to the section about translation contracts in the United States, it begins at minute 17:35.

And if you’d like to read more on the subject, check out the transcript of the intellectual property workshop for translators with Erach Screwvala that was hosted on Dec. 9, 2010 by the PEN Translation Committee at the PEN American Center.

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