Considerations for translating copyright-protected content


Every day millions of people get up to go to work. Some have more traditional jobs with more routine tasks, while other jobs are less conventional and require their workers to constantly innovate to create new products, works and services. All types of creative effort must be protected by rights and must be patented so that the author has full recognition of them and can decide what to do. Any content that forms part of these creations that is visible worldwide and has an international impact may be susceptible to change, alteration or modification if the person responsible does not follow the standards correctly. Today we are going to discuss the legal considerations that must be taken into account by the specialized translator who is responsible for translating copyright-protected content.


What is copyright?

Copyright has been in use for many years and is a term that is very often confused in Spain with "derechos de autor" (author's rights). Although the two concepts are very similar and protect the same thing, there is a small difference that distinguishes them.

Author's rights, as the name itself indicates, refers to the author's right to their work from the very moment they create it. Copyright is the same, but it is the proof in law that the work belongs to its author.


What type of works and rights does copyright protect?

Depending on the sector, you will find works that more artistic or more technical, but they are all protected to ensure their creator has full rights to them. Some of the most common are:

  • Novels, picture stories and poetry.
  • Movies, plays and musical compositions.
  • Models, illustrations, diagrams and maps.
  • Computer programmes, software and websites.

As we mentioned above, the authors of these works have the right to them as soon as they are created. However, to prevent misuse, it is necessary to copyright them to give the author the following rights:

  • The authorship or copyright of the work.
  • Exploitation rights.
  • Protection from plagiarism.
  • To decide whether the work can be reproduced or not.
  • To allow the work to be translated into other languages.


Considerations when translating a copyright-protected work

If we focus on the last right, when a translator receives a commission of this type, they must take into account a number of considerations in order to produce a perfect adaptation:

  • Right to transformation. this right is explained in Article 21. It states that transformation is the translation, adaptation and modification of the work, but not its content. The translator must be well aware of this right and must not only be specialized in the sector to which the work belongs (literature, audiovisual, science, etc.) but also in legal matters to ensure that they know the laws and the permissions they have to adapt the work from one language to another without altering the content.


  • Berne Convention: this is an international treaty on the copyright protection of literary and artistic work. One of the principles of this agreement is that it requires countries to recognize the copyrights held by citizens of all other parties to the convention. The translator must be familiar with this convention and know which countries belong to it, as, their rights will vary depending on the target language of the translation.


At AT we have over eight thousand native translators specializing in your sector to provide the maximum efficiency in content adaptation for your project. We personally choose the most suitable professional to guarantee you a successful translation. If you have a project that requires a specialized translator, contact us and we will help you find the right person.



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