Tag Archives: infringement

Some Legal Ponderings

If you look at the “Media” page, there hasn’t been much new material for 2013 and none so far for 2014. This is for one due to my university studies (graduating from my undergrad studies and starting work on an M.A.), but also because I had been working on and off on a partial translation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic novella Le Petit Prince into Ayeri for the past year, consisting of the first two chapters. I’ve long had an itch to try this, especially since Le Petit Prince has been translated into over two hundred languages already. However, it turns out that a publication of such a translation here raises some legal questions. Note: I am not a lawyer!

Saint-Exupéry went missing on a flight in July 1944, which is almost 70 years ago. Now, according to German copyright law at least,[1. I am German, living in Germany. However, since this website is hosted on an American server, the question is if German law applies at all, or possibly both American and German law.] an author’s work becomes Public Domain 70 years after an their death, calculated from the end of the year of their passing away (cf. Urheberrechtsgesetz, articles 64 and 69, in German). However, I’ve only recently learnt from Wikipedia that

[d]ue to Saint-Exupéry’s wartime death, his estate received the civil code designation Mort pour la France […]; thus most of Saint-Exupéry’s creative works will not fall out of copyright status in France for an extra 30 years. […] Note that although Saint-Exupéry’s regular French publisher, Gallimard, lists Le Petit Prince as being published in 1946, that is apparently a legalistic interpretation possibly designed to allow for an extra year of the novella’s copyright protection period […]. (Wikipedia, “The Little Prince”)

This means that contrary to my assumptions of when I started out translating with bold enthusiasm last May, Le Petit Prince is not strictly in the Public Domain yet, though the question is whether this only applies to France or in general. Furthermore, there is an estate administration to capitalize on Saint-Exupéry’s literary inheritance by licensing any derivative works. On their Twitter, they show off fan-created artwork, but as I see it, my translation of about six pages of the original text including the images from the book may well exceed the status of fanart and the bounds of Fair Use, in spite of scholarly annotation consisting of the interlinear glossing for everything and no expressed commercial interest.

Of course, I would like to avoid getting into legal trouble if I were to publish my efforts here, especially since I’d really like to include the illustrations from the book, which really are an intrinsic part of the text. However, at least as far as German law goes, I would only be able to put my translation online in January 2015 anyway, otherwise only in 2047.

I suppose that if I really want a definitive answer, I’ll have to write to Gallimard’s licensing department. For the time being, as much as I’m sorry about it, I will not make my Ayeri translation publically available out of caution about copyright issues.

Wait – isn’t it me who made that?

An internet friend of mine notified me today that a recording (of the “Babel Text”) and a picture (of the text of Conlang Relay 15) from this website was reposted on Youtube without any indication of source. And it’s been sitting there for about half a year already. Of course, I could have gone mad and reported it as a copyright violation immediately, since according to the terms of use of this site, all contents are copyrighted by me as far as not indicated otherwise, and reposting content you did not create yourself without consent is also against Youtube’s terms of trade. However, I find it silly to slap a watermark on anything I put up here. After all, I’m not making any money from this, it’s just a thing I do as a hobby. Still, I put work into things, and I’m grateful if people acknowledge this by stating who made it.

As far as content on the internet goes, I believe it’s an illusion to keep 100% control of how and by whom your content is used, since – as I see it – it is in the nature of the internet for content to get reposted elsewhere, even without your expressed consent, sooner or later. Viral campaigns essentially build on this behavior, as far as I know. This is by no means meant to be an invitation to ripping me off, however! My reply to said video:

Hi, I’m the creator of Ayeri and I was just notified by a friend you put this up here. While it’s nice to see that people like my stuff and while it’s clear to me that things one puts online are likely to end up elsewhere sooner or later, you could’ve easily dropped me a line, or at lease given credit. I’m not gonna have this removed, but please at least state your source.

I’m usually not against people using my things as long as they ask. I mean, if content you made gets reposted – that is, shared – by others, so that people who follow them are made aware of your work’s existence, that’s certainly nice, in and of itself. Everyone likes recommendations, and a large part of the internet builds on recommendations these days. And judging from other videos posted by the user, this is also what happened in my case: reposting what you appreciate or find interesting. However, what I’m allergic against is not giving credit. I don’t care too much about sharing the media I publish on Ayeri, however, I think it should still be a generally accepted habit to state the original source if you repost content for the purpose of sharing it with others. It’s egotist not to do so, and not very “Web 2.0” either in my opinion, as recommendations usually include giving the original source so that other people can find more interesting things there.

A positive surprise when reading the comments to the video was, however, that some people actually recognized this as Ayeri, that is, they did not mistake it as the poster’s creation. I’m curious how this will turn out.