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Subject: Legal Question Concerning Fair Use rss

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Brett David Spain
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If I own a game published in a foreign language -- one foreign to me, the owner -- would I or would I not have a right to obtain a translation of the rules/components/etc. for the game? I would not be reselling the material; I simply would be "reading" it in a language other than what was sent with the game I own.

If you are able to post photos of games under "fair use," why not translated material?

If the publisher is not being cooperative, what other recourse would I have, if any, to obtain a set of components I could more easily use?

 
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Chris Shaffer
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IANAL (I am not a lawyer).

I don't think fair use applies in this case at all.

Posting photos of games isn't fair use. A photograph is an original object and the photographer holds the copyright to it.

Copyright concerns the right to copy and distribute materials. If someone else posts a document that violates copyright and you use the document, the poster is liable, not you. You didn't copy or distribute the materials - you simply read them.

Fair use allows you to make copies even if the copyright holder doesn't authorize it. In order to qualify for fair use, you must meet the four factor test: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html
 
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Brett David Spain
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OK, let's assume this isn't an issue involving fair use at all. What is the legal reason why I, as the owner of content, cannot obtain the same content in a different language.

1. I agree that I should not be able to purchase the translated content from someone other than the publisher or copyright holder, otherwise, someone would be making money from another's material.

2. Would I be able to hand over my original document to someone who can translate it and receive back a translated document?

3. If I could translate the document myself, would I be able to "use" the translated document after I translated it?

In essence, is it a matter of who translates the document?

 
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George Kinney
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throwingmuse wrote:
If I own a game published in a foreign language -- one foreign to me, the owner -- would I or would I not have a right to obtain a translation of the rules/components/etc. for the game? I would not be reselling the material; I simply would be "reading" it in a language other than what was sent with the game I own.


Follow this link: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.html

Short answer, only the copyright holder can create, or give permission for the creation of the translation. So you would have such a right, assuming the copyright holder granted it to you.

Your purpose for obtaining such a derivation, and how you intend to use it is irrelevant.

Quote:
If you are able to post photos of games under "fair use," why not translated material?


Because translations are specifically categorized as 'derivative works' (see the link above), not as 'fair use' items as categorized elsewhere.

Quote:
If the publisher is not being cooperative, what other recourse would I have, if any, to obtain a set of components I could more easily use?


Recourse for what? You bought an item with language you can't read.

Caveat emptor.

No copyright holder is obligated to do anything with their property, including making it easily available to you or anyone else, or available at all for that matter.

So, in the end, the ball is completely in the publisher's court, and they get to decide who plays with it.

----

But don't get me wrong, I don't think most publishers are mounting a big offensive against those providing translations of their rules.

Some of them will willingly help a translator out, others prefer to keep control of the translations themselves. (Maybe you could spur them on by offering a first draft?) If in doubt, drop them an email and ask about it.

And if you don't get a response, don't just assume they are being defensive, your email may not have got to the right person, they might be very busy, or they may not understand it (being speakers of a different language and all). You can also try posting in the game's forums, and you might trip across the designer/publisher, or maybe a helpful bi-lingual individual who can help smooth out the communication problem.

And then again, maybe the publisher really is evil and really doesn't want to go along.

Ce la vie.

 
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Brett Myers
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What if I'm bilingual and when I read it in the original language, my brain processes it in English?

Do I have the right to do that or would my brain be liable for damages?

What if I'm toting my German to English dictionary around Dusseldorf, translating menus and signs and newspaper articles?

Can I be arrested for that?

Translating something or having something translated is fine, just don't publish it or post it on teh internets.

 
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Jeff Coon
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I bought a copy of Master Thieves that I didn't know was in German. After one email to the publisher asking for an English version of the rules I had it in PDF format a few days later.
 
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Leo Zappa
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The following is my layman's uninformed opinion...

Your original statement appeared to ask only about "obtaining" a translation. Later you mentioned "posting", as in making the translation available for others to use. If you are only obtaining a translation for your personal use, you might as well do it, the publisher will have no knowledge of your activity and you will have the only copy. Posting the translation in a public forum on the other hand, well, there might be a concern, but probably not - again, it would likely not be worth any publisher's time and effort to get the offending translation taken down, and for that matter, little reason to do so - it would be difficult to see how producing and posting such a translation would result in any harm to the publisher's interests. In summary, while legally there may be some question, practically, there is little to no risk.
 
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Mike zebrowski
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desertfox2004 wrote:
- it would be difficult to see how producing and posting such a translation would result in any harm to the publisher's interests.


Posting translations can and have hurt a product's ability to be published in different languages.

One example of this happening is in the US Manga market.

In the early 90's, Ah My Goddess was a pretty popular comic in Japan. Several fans took it upon themselves to translate the first 8 issues and posted them on the internet. After that occured, vendors at Anime conventions would pass out a printout of the translation when people purchased the imported manga (which was in Japanese).

In the mid-90's, Dark Horse Comics was approached to publish the comic in English. At the time, manga was virtually unknown to the American public and non-superhero/action comics were a rarity. In otherwords, for Dark Horse to publish a romance-comedy comicbook would be a big risk.

Dark Horse did decide to take this risk. However, they also decided to skip issues 2-8 as they felt that the translations on the Internet had ruined the market for those issues. They decided that the fans who had purchased the imported manga would wait until issue 9 to start picking up the comic in English. However, if the sales of the first 8 issues were not good, there wouldn't be an issue 9 to tap into the larger market.

As a result, the new fans of the comic were a bit confused when the story started refering to things that "didn't happen" and characters would drop in without introduction.

It wasn't until 7-8 years later, when the comic had proven itself and the sales of the graphic novels were strong that Dark Horse went back and translated issues 2-8.

In niche markets, the existance of fan translations can cause publishers to not take the risk of producing a licensed translation of a product.

Mike Z
 
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