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Translating song lyrics
Thread poster: Britaly

Chemazzo
United States
Local time: 06:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translating song lyrics for pleasure, but hoping they reach an audience May 28, 2013

I translate songs as a hobby, but in the hope that someone also interested in communication across cultures will at some point be interested in performing them.

While I am not interested in financial gain, since I plan to make them available to performers on a website, I would appreciate my work to be duly acknowledged.

I'm therefore concerned about two issues:

1. Copyright infringement I might be committing by creating this derivative work.

... See more
I translate songs as a hobby, but in the hope that someone also interested in communication across cultures will at some point be interested in performing them.

While I am not interested in financial gain, since I plan to make them available to performers on a website, I would appreciate my work to be duly acknowledged.

I'm therefore concerned about two issues:

1. Copyright infringement I might be committing by creating this derivative work.

2. Lack of acknowledgment of this work by performers.

Could a disclaimer be enough to take care of both issues, something like "While I am not profiting from this work, if you are, contact the copyright owners of the original work and request their permission to perform it, and please acknowledge my translation work by mentioning my name".

This may be too naive, but as you can see no money in the world would make me want to have to deal with the legal aspects of this task. I hear that you're even supposed to submit the copyrights holder a reverse translation for approval.

All this threatens to turn my hobby into a chore. Should I get a literary agent to take care of this? Is it unavoidable?

Thanks for your thoughts or comments.
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Robert Tucker (X)
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:51
German to English
+ ...
Lyrics sites May 29, 2013

It may depend on what you mean by "make them available to performers on a website".

I can scarcely believe that you don't realize that there are many lyrics sites on the Internet which set forth song lyrics often with links to videos and with translations produced by people generally with the sole desire of making cross-cultural links. Probably these translations tend to be more literal than "singable".

As I understand it a link to a video already freely available on th
... See more
It may depend on what you mean by "make them available to performers on a website".

I can scarcely believe that you don't realize that there are many lyrics sites on the Internet which set forth song lyrics often with links to videos and with translations produced by people generally with the sole desire of making cross-cultural links. Probably these translations tend to be more literal than "singable".

As I understand it a link to a video already freely available on the Internet is not considered infringement of copyright in the UK even if the video as published is an infringement of copyright – this may be different in other countries, in the US, for example.

The fact that the translations have been posted without payment involved and that they possess educational qualities is strongly in their favour, I believe, in copyright encroachment being legally acceptable.

Another point one might make is that it's handy to have copies of a songs lyrics on the Internet since any copy that comes with the CD might get destroyed and it would be nice to be able to check them out if one bought the CD at a garage sale without its original accompaniments, for example.

As for the copyright on the translation it seems to me that one has merely translated some words one has found on the Internet and submitted them to an Internet site which then, albeit probably automatically, publishes them. In this case, it would seem to me that the translator is not really the publisher. Further in the European Community, it is necessary that any product sold must have necessary instructions in the language of the country in which it is sold – while I'm not suggesting that this law is actually valid in relation to entertainment material, I do suggest it's a point worth considering.

Also, although I would not like to proceed too presumptuously along the path, I would have thought that the fact that there is a translation freely available for a particular work would mean that the original artist(s) has/have extended their/his/her audience/market without any effort on their/his/her part.

However, if you yourself publish on your own website...

This thread on the forum of Lyrics Translate might be of interest:

http://lyricstranslate.com/en/forum/illegal-commercial-use-our-contributions-lyricstranslate

[Edited at 2013-05-29 05:57 GMT]
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Chemazzo
United States
Local time: 06:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Better late... Mar 11, 2014

Thank you, Robert, for your response. I only read it today, can you believe it? My post was kind of a message in a bottle, and I never got a notification in my regular inbox to come check... Still at it (translating songs), have a look if you're curious, a few translations are in English... misberretines.blogspot.com Cheers!

 

Richard Huddleson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feel the rhythm May 31, 2016

Hi Britaly,

I would explain to the client that you are basically being asked to write a new song that fits with the music, rhythm, mood .etc. Therefore, you should ensure that you are entitled to author's rights. After all, a literal translation just wouldn't cut the mustard.

Here in Ireland, there's an amazing initiative called "TG Lurgan" which does Irish language covers of different chart toppers. The translations are rarely literal, but they are adapted to suit the
... See more
Hi Britaly,

I would explain to the client that you are basically being asked to write a new song that fits with the music, rhythm, mood .etc. Therefore, you should ensure that you are entitled to author's rights. After all, a literal translation just wouldn't cut the mustard.

Here in Ireland, there's an amazing initiative called "TG Lurgan" which does Irish language covers of different chart toppers. The translations are rarely literal, but they are adapted to suit the poetry and rhythm of Irish. If you fancy a listen, you can do so here: https://www.youtube.com/user/tglurgan

I also spotted this article recently in the Guardian, it may also be of interest:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/may/30/emmy-the-great-its-time-to-retire-english-as-pops-lingua-franca

- Just wanted to share those!

Best wishes and have a lovely week,

Richard
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