In the event that the subject matter of the translation requires on-site verification by a professional who may make relevant modifications and/or integrations, the contract contains provisions guaranteeing cooperation between the translator and the technical examiner in question, in order to respect the role and rights of both parties. In general, the number of translation rights we obtain before and after the Frankfurt and London Book Fair has increased considerably when foreign publishers are more actively looking for new titles. Since there are still so many misunderstandings about translation rights and their acquisition, I would like to make a miniature sketch on how it all works. Translation rights may only be transferred (sold or donated free of charge) by the person or organization that owns the copyright to the original work. In many cases, it is not really the author. I have just released a book from the shelf: Bruno von Gerhard Falkner, a grandiose novel about a writer possessed by a wild bear who terrorizes cattle in the Alps, where he is writing. Take a look at the copyright page of the book (below), and you will see that the work was not protected in the author`s name, but by the publisher. This means that, in Falkner`s initial contract with his publishing house, the Berlin publishing house, he sold his copyright to the work, which means that it is no longer his sale or offer. Now, if you agree with Gerhard Falkner and convince him that you are the right one to translate his book, he can go to his publisher and ask him to assign the translation rights (usually for a supplement – it`s a matter of negotiation) to any publishing house that prints your translation. The rights cannot be sold or assigned to you, as translation rights can only be held by publishers (or magazines). But authors do not always fully understand that by selling their copyright, they have also waived the right to grant translation rights to their work, so that you may actually ask a foreign-language author for permission to translate their book and happily provide you with a corresponding document.
But unless they own the copyright to their work, this document has no legal significance, at least until the copyright owner makes a deal with the editor of your translation. Sometimes, of course, authors keep copyright on their work, and in those cases they are indeed able to grant translation rights – whereas the bureaucracy of rights negotiations is often managed by their publishers or agents and the rights can still only be formally acquired by the person who publishes your work. (Note that in each of these cases, you can and still should retain copyright for your own translation – there is no benefit to you of assigning it to your publisher, even though many publishers may still ask you to do so.) If several French-language publishers are considering the title in question, we will send them an email informing them that we have received an offer for this special book (without further details). We ask them if they also want to offer French rights and give them a deadline, usually from one week to ten days, to make a decision. The publisher must communicate to the translator all uses of the translator`s work through detailed, transparent and regular, at least annual, licensing statements, as stipulated in a verification clause in the contract.