28 Feb 2024

The use of translations by cultural institutions

A translation of intellectual property has status as a creative work and is protected by copyright.

As established by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Article 2, Section 3: “Translations, adaptations, arrangements of music and other alterations of a literary or artistic work shall be protected as original works without prejudice to the copyright in the original work.”

Navigating copyright can be a minefield, and sensitive and appropriate use of translations is not always intuitive; each case is unique. The International Federation of Translators (FIT) and The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) have put together some guidelines to help cultural institutions who may use translated texts understand, at a glance, the best way to approach the use of translations.

The first step? Contact the translator, as a courtesy. It’s always good to be sure the translator is aware and part of the discussion, even if they don’t hold the copyright. In the event they don’t hold the copyright themselves, they will be able to tell you who does.